Currently, South Africa is burning. It needs to be saved from itself. Those who are supposed to build it are destroying it after it refused to attend to their needs as independence promised them. The smell and smoke of apartheid that it hid is now coming to the fore. What the post-apartheid government pushed under the rag is coming back to scarily haunt the country. Over 100 people have already died and hundreds detained. Overall, the country is in a bad shape in all aspects.
Like countries with massive inequities and systemic injustices, South Africa is a time bomb and cancer. South Africa sits on oodles of problems economically, politically and socially. Discrimination and segregation are alive and well. The majority of South Africans are still hallucinating about the beauties and goodies that independence promised them to no avail. Penury, corruption and bad governance are rife in South Africa.
Since its independence, South Africa has had four presidents, namely the iconic Nelson Mandela, the bureaucratic Thabo Mbeki, the most corrupt Jacob Zuma and tactful Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa. Of the four, Zuma is the one whose presidency ruined the country. Although the rioters in the streets purportedly claimed they decided to be in the streets to oppose the incarceration of Zuma, it is a big lie. There is no way any sane person can agitate for the release of a person who disrespected the court of law and robbed his country. Using Zuma as a front, the real cause of riots and lootings revolves around inequality, corruption and South Africa’s failure to decolonise itself.
If rioters and other South Africans won’t address the real problem, they will soon reciprocate what is ongoing in the CAR and Somalia. Refer to how the riots are damaging the economy. Apart from massive lootings, properties were set alight, malls ransacked, transportation halted and supply adversely affected. How can South Africa become prosperous and peaceable amidst stinking poverty, unemployment, landlessness, corruption and myopic rulers? Remember state capture and the Zupta scandal? The BBC (July 15, 2019) reveals that the relationship between two families Zuma and the Guptas, three Indian-born brothers who moved to South Africa after the fall of apartheid forms a major part of the inquiry.
The solution to this imbroglio is to free South Africa from the hands of a few privileged whites and their African pawns in power, embark on policies that ensure equity and make the government answerable to the people.
People need land as the capital for their livelihood. Who owns the land? According to the Land Report (2017), Whites own 26 663 144 ha or 72% of the total 37 031 283 ha farms and agricultural holdings by individual landowners who are just 9% of the population; followed by Coloured at 5 371 383 ha or 15%, Indians at 2 031 790 ha or 5%, Africans at 1 314 873 ha or 4%, other at 1 271 562 ha or 3%, and co-owners at 425 537 ha or 1%. The government must harmonise land ownership by, at least, using quota system based on the composition of the population without forgetting the history of the country.
Apart from land, whites in South Africa own almost everything. Economic empowerment where the majority are enabled to have access to the means of production such as land so that they can contribute to the betterment of their lives and the economy of the country is necessary. Economic tweaking should learn from the chicanery known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) which became a cropper after making a fewer connected leeches billionaires while the majority became poorer and poorer.
South Africa needs to embark on purposeful deconstruction, decolonisation and reconstruction by buying into the ideals of independence and avoid turning a blind eye on the injustices and inequalities. The economy of the country must equally and judiciously serve all citizens.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL) and author of over 20 books among which are Africa Reunite or Perish, 'Is It Global War on Terrorism' or Global War over Terra Africana? How Africa Developed Europe and contributed many chapters in scholarly works.