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South African indignities of our time

South African indignities of our time

Dr Wallace Mgoqi

Johannesburg – Whereas from colonial times, down to the apartheid days, the indignities of discrimination, oppression and economic exploitation of the country’s resources and the people, were targeted at certain groups, on racial grounds, writes Dr Wallace Mgoqi.

We have now turned full circle, to a point where these indignities are suffered by all South Africans, regardless of race, class, gender or any other grounds. This is as a result of state capture, endemic corruption, loss of a vision, which have left the country and its people paralysed. Which reminds me of the saying: “When the wicked rule, the people groan in pain.”

The beauty, however, in all this, if we can still see beauty, is that we are all in it together, regardless of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, conscience, belief, culture, sexual orientation, age, class, disability, religion, language and birth, the usual grounds of discrimination. This alone should create a sense and spirit of solidarity among all South Africans, and help us to get together like never before, as we did when we fought against apartheid oppression.

In those days it mattered not what we were up against, as we saw the might of the state on display every day, what mattered most was that deep in our hearts we were yearning for freedom from the yoke of oppression, period.

We are suffering indignities together today, the high cost of living, facilities that are falling apart, as a result of state capture and widespread and endemic corruption, the collapse of towns and public amenities that used to be the pride of our places – for example, Grahamstown, and its schools that used to be the attraction of families near and far, who took pride in sending their children to receive quality education, in a safe environment conducive to learning.

We are now a people without hope, whereas up until the dawn of our democracy we were a country and a people oozing with hope of a better and a brighter future. However, from 2008 and 2009 our hope began to dwindle, until it was snuffed out, as one does in putting out a candle by covering or pinching the flame.

Quite frankly, our problems began between the third and fourth administration in our government, when the leader of the country was forcibly removed by his own party and replaced with another, who single-handedly handed over the reins of governance to a single corrupt foreign family, who drove the country to the wall, with impunity.

By the fifth and sixth administration the ruling party had lost all control, but were ruling in name only , without the power of good governance.

We have seen a collapse of everything our Constitution promised us the people; our local government structures are in ruins as municipalities have been drenched of whatever little life there was in them; our provincial government is also bleeding, worst of all the national government and all its structures have followed suit.

The centre does not hold anymore; state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that used to be the pride of this nation, in their heydays, Transnet, Denel, Sasol, PetroSA, SAA, RAF, Eskom and many others today exist only in name, as life was siphoned out of them, through state capture and endemic corruption.

All norms and standards of governance no longer exist, as if observed they would have militated against the goal and ethos of: “It is our time to eat.” Consequently, whatever system that had been in place, the efficiencies and competencies of past administrations, which were skillfully used even by oppressors to keep us down were all thrown overboard, as one throws out the baby with the bathwater, as it were.

It is interesting to see and study the efficient manner in which, for example, land was forcibly taken away from the indigenous people. The administrations of the time took such meticulous steps to record every detail concerning the people from whom they were to deprive of their land rights, and these records were safely kept at the archives, and have helped a great deal in the investigation of land restitution cases, as the records are there well preserved over decades and centuries.

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights as well as the Land Claims Court I served as both a Commissioner and acting Judge respectively, benefited immensely from these records in the resolution of land disputes.

Without such meticulous records kept, it would have been well-nigh impossible to resolve those cases. With everything down now, resulting in the country and its people groaning, as happens when the wicked rule, the question arises: What are we to do? Can we realistically continue to entrust those who have betrayed our trust in them, with the responsibility to rescue us out of this quagmire? Do we still have in us to believe that they could take us out of the muddy and miry clay? Do we believe that a leopard can change its spots and be something else?

The time has come for us as a nation to make serious decisions concerning our future, within a limited time at our disposal. We are going to have to consult experts on principles and precepts of decision-making, as whatever choices and decisions we make, will follow us all to our graves.

Those who know something about decision-making, say asking good questions leads to better decisions. Well placed and appropriately timed, thought-provoking questions result in better decisions and fewer regrets.

In his book, Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, Andy Stanley, provides us with a framework for decision-making, in five questions, thus:

  • The Integrity question – Am I being honest with myself … really?
  • The Legacy question: What story do I want to tell?
  • The Conscience question: Is there a tension that deserves my attention?
  • The Maturity question: What is the wise thing to do?
  • The Relationship question: What does love require of me?

He makes the important point that these five questions when asked consistently, will ensure your fingerprints on the future will be worth celebrating.

We have come to crunch time in South Africa, and we have to make choices that will help us make the right decisions; decisions with fewer regrets than we have done in the past. Surely, we are not bewitched to make silly decisions, that will take us nowhere.

The time for a major shake-up is upon us. In the government, in particular, there is a need to overhaul things in such a way that even officials who serve people through bribes, must be made to realise that those caught committing acts of corruption will pay dearly.

They must be made to know that a new era has now arrived that will not tolerate the slightest acts of malfeasance, only then will we as a nation go forward and say: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another” in the truest sense – Nelson Mandela.

Since we are now in this together, black and white, on one side, we should draw strength from this and fight together, side by side, against all man-made forms of all oppression, save natural disasters, until we see a new dawn of a new South Africa, we can bequeath to future generations, with pride – that which was in the heart, mind and spirit of the late Steve Biko: “We have set out on a quest for true humanity, and somewhere on the horizon, we can see the glittering prize. Let us march forth with courage and determination, drawing strength from our common plight and our brotherhood (sisterhood). In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift – a more human face.”

Dr Wallace Mgoqi is the chairman of AYO Technology Solutions. He writes in his personal capacity.

Sunday Independent

Original Article