Yes, South Africa is failing us. No wait. Not South Africa. The ANC. The ANC is failing us. Our government is failing us. Us – the people of South Africa. And it has nothing to do with Apartheid.
Let’s get this straight – their failure has nothing to do with Apartheid. Apartheid was a despicable oppressive system. There was nothing good about it. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Okay, maybe for the white South Africans it was a holiday camp. But for the majority of South Africans it was an oppressive system who gave them no rights – a concentration camp. No political rights outside of a failed red-herring joke of a homelands system. Ha! 13% of the land for 80% of the population. No right to ownership. You want land? Go and eat dirt. In your homeland. No right to economic wealth. The best jobs were reserved for whites. Ever wondered how all the top jobs were occupied by white faces? Now you know. Reserved parking only. South Africa was covered by one single sign that we saw on the benches and doors and busses every single day under Apartheid – Whites Only.
Oh I can go on and on about how bad Apartheid was. But I won’t. You should know that. If you don’t – go read the TRC document or any decent and recent history book. Or pull the bigot stickers off your eyes. If you liked Apartheid stop reading now. You won’t like the rest of this piece either. But neither will the ANC.
Make no mistake, we can blame Apartheid for many of the problems we experience in South Africa today. The legacy of Apartheid lives on. And the chickens are still coming home to roost. Only problem is that these bloody chickens don’t know the farm is under new ownership. But here – have a few of these on the side.
The education system in South Africa sucks. No surprise there. Under Apartheid the per capita expenditure for white schoolkids were 5 times more than for black kids. Oh, and the ratio between white teacher and white kids were about half of the ratio for black schools. Yes, they had separate schools, separate authorities and a separate curriculum. No surprise there. And due to the lack of adequate financing and training, teachers in black schools were generally less qualified than white teachers who had some of the best universities in the world. So what the hell did you expect to happen when Apartheid ended? That everyone will all of a sudden get the same education as traditionally white schools? A system change was needed and that takes time. Make the per capita expenditure the same, but you still had to rebuild the infrastructure of the traditional black schools and retrain many of the teachers – white and black – to get up to speed to a non-racial curriculum. And merge all the different education departments in South Africa and those in the homelands. No easy task hey? Imagine the largest corporate merger in the world – and instead of two make it about ten or more companies merging into one. So stop bitching. The education system is much better than under Apartheid for the majority of South Africans.
How about policing? Yeah! Under Apartheid the primary function of the South African Police Service (SAPS) was the suppression of political dissent. Stopping criminal activity, beyond that which directly threatened the white minority, was a much lower priority, and there were almost no tradition or expertise in criminal investigation in South Africa. Between 80 and 90 percent of criminal convictions were gained on the basis of confessions, obtained by what was called the “choke and talk” technique of police intimidation. Oh yes, and in 1994 they had to consolidate eleven Apartheid-era policing agencies into one. So, reform was needed while at the same time show the public it can actually reduce crime as well. Or, as a senior SAPS officer once said, “Police reform is like rebuilding a ship while it is in full sail during a hurricane”. No problem, hey Sherlock?
Okay, let’s see where to go next – last one. Healthcare. On the one hand we had a system that provided first-world healthcare to a small minority – provided by a well-resourced tertiary system. I mean really, we had the first heart transplant done in South Africa. On a white South African. Because only they had access to this level of healthcare. The rest? Let’s just say that they had very little health to care about in the first place. There were no basic or essential services provided in any structured way. So come 1994 – what did you expect? To continue to live the life of luxury while the majority remain dying from bad water and weather?
Wait – let’s do just a last few. Basic services like water, housing and electricity. Except for a few toilets build in the middle of nowhere, the Apartheid government did jack shit for black South Africans. Don’t tell me about the single line of electricity that ran into a selected township under Apartheid. One swallow doesn’t make a summer. It’s like saying that anyone can now sit on the bench in the park – but only whites are allowed in the park. Or that anyone can now swim in the sea – but only whites are allowed on the beaches. Sorry to disappoint you. The Apartheid system sucked. And nothing good came of it for the majority of South Africans. And we still live with the failure of that system. The sins of our fathers…
The end of Apartheid wasn’t just a change from one government to another. That would have been easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. No sweat. No problem. ‘n Boer maak mos ‘n plan. Geen probleem broe. Daasie kakkie want daasie kossie. It was a revolution. It made the fall of the wall in Berlin look like a walk in the park. And we had no money compared to them. The fall of the USSR – no problem. Here? Each and every law had to be rewritten (yes – we wrote more laws between 1994 and 2000 than any other country in the world). We had to merge ten to 15 departments into one for each group under Apartheid. We had to retrain people to serve and not kill. We had to reallocate budgets when South Africa was already an emerging market with extremely limited funds – comparable to Argentina and Egypt and India. Not the US or UK – that was the life of the whites in South Africa. We had to change from a limited healthcare system to one that provides primary healthcare to all South Africans. We had to change an economic system from inward looking to export-oriented. And all of that isn’t even half of it. We still had to get rid of institutional racism and go through the rebirth of a nation (thanks TRC – you got us closer). So don’t think it was a change in government. It wasn’t. It was changing from Nazi Germany (without any money or a world plan to finance rebuilding) to a free society overnight. Like that – “Snap!”. Now you see Apartheid – “Snap!” – now you don’t. Gone. Welcome to freedom – now let me turn your world upside down.
But still. I blame the ANC for failing us. Because they are. They are failing us. I don’t give a damn about how tough a job they had and have. I know the legacy of Apartheid. I know that it hasn’t been easy. I know what shit they inherited from the Apartheid regime. I don’t blame them for not building enough houses. I don’t blame them for not creating enough jobs. I don’t blame them for the violence and crime. I don’t blame them for the kids failing school. I don’t blame them for not building the clinics fast enough. Because all of those things are better than under Apartheid for most South Africans. But I do blame them for failing South Africa. And failing us – the people of South Africa.
I blame them for creating a false hope. I blame them for promising us a better government than what they have become. They are not a bad government. They are just a government. Making bad choices. And making good choices. A mix bag of some good stuff and some bad stuff. Like other governments.
The arms deal and corruption? Nothing special. Bloody hell, they actually dealt with it better than others. Finding Tony guilty and sending him to jail! The Chief Whip of the ruling party! Can you imagine the UK or US doing that? Here Dick and Halliburton was so closely linked but no one blinks an eye – never mind investigate. Or Blackwater and their backhanders. And the UK? The UK government refuses to investigate the bribery that took place in the arms deal with the Saudis. Why? Because it will “threaten national security”. So, sorry people, the ANC is no worse than other governments. They all fail foreign policy. You think Mbeki and Zimbabwe is bad? Have you heard anything from the US on the Saudis who have one of the worse human rights record in the world? No, sorry people, the ANC is no worse than other governments. They are just like them. And that is why they are failing us.
We believed naively that the end of Apartheid meant the start of a super-government. That our government is above other governments. More just than any other. They are better then the best. The most human of all humans. The fairest of them all. They lied to us – without saying a word. They made us believe in a world that is better than any other. We somehow believed that we are the chosen people. And our government who gave us our freedom will somehow give us the freedom of our souls.
And when we had Mandela we actually entrenched that belief. A South Africa where miracles happen when Madiba snaps his fingers. Our “Special One”. The one who brings hope, love and peace to all. We love him. We truly love him like no President or leader is loved. And that is right. Because he is like no other. He is our Madiba. But still they failed us.
They failed us because they made us believe that we are somehow better than others. That somehow they will be better than others. They failed us by being just another bloody typical government. Like all others. That is their failure. For being too normal. And we were the suckers for falling for it in the first place.
Sorry South Africa – welcome to the world. You are now just as normal as the rest of the world. With a government that sometimes fail and sometimes succeed. Nothing special. Not what the ANC promised us. But still – just a government like all governments. And just a country like all countries. We are not special. We are just people. Just a country. Just South Africa. Like anyone else. Just normal. Normal. Normal at last.
Free at last…
Note: We still have biltong, Simba chips, Stoney, boerewors, Liqui-Fruit, mopani worms, afval, Marina braaisalt, Marmite, putu, bobotie, sosaties, Top Deck, Cream Soda, Castle, koe(k)sisters, beskuit, vetkoek, pannekoek and Peck’s to name a few – okay, drop the afval and mopani worms. And I haven’t even started on the Rugby World Cup or Kaizer Chiefs (I am an Ajax CT supporter but acknowledge power). If we lose that we are stuffed. Then we won’t be able to even brag about the bloody food or sport anymore. And then we have nothing but a cute accent, good looking people, Table Mountain and crap music. Hey wait. Apart from the music the left-overs aren’t that bad either. I’ll just blame the music on Apartheid or the ANC. You pick boeremusiek or kwaito – blame it on the boogie… man.
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