Saturday, 14 June 2008

South Africa: Is this the end of the dream?

South Africa began its miraculous transformation to democracy in 1994. Nelson Mandela - a sole example of leadership in our generation - was at the helm. People rallied to the call for unity and transformation. The process had begun. A declining economy was transformed into one of grow into one of growth. The nation united behind the new leadership.

Mandela was not a power seeker, and chose to withdraw from the race at the next election.

Thabo Mbeki became the new leader. His term in office has proven to be worse than dissapointing. Initially, he chose the side of the Aids denialists. He denied the link between HIV and AIDS. He asserted that poverty was the cause. He rejected the call for anti-retrovirals, citing the potentially harmful side-effects. The crime problem was swept under the carpet and office beared held office because if their struggle credentials. This approach was a disaster for those suffering from Aids. How many could have lived?

Zimbabwe is perhaps the bigger tragedy. In spice of ever increasing evidence that Robert Mugabe’s government was distroying the country and with it democracy, Thabo has remained a loyal friend. True, Mugabe and Zanu did provide shelter and assistance during the ’struggle’ years. But loyalty to Mugabe who had become nothing less than a dictator is not our style. Even now,with Mugabe the clear loser in the Zimbabwe election, Mr Mbeki continues to provide support. Even asMugabe’s forces inflict great terror against its own population, the support continues.

Huge emphasis has been placed on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). A policy that has seen a small minority of the ‘previously disadvantaged’ achieving great wealth while the majority endure great poverty with no sign of relief.

While there may be forces at work that exploit the fears and dissatisfaction of under-privileged South Africans, it is perhaps the poverty itself that can take a large portion of the blame for the recent xenophobic attacks against the huge immigrant community. Like Chamberlain, Mbeki will not take a stand against a dictator and human rights violations in the neighbouring country.

The world had great hopes for South Africa. South Africans were full of hope for a better future. But as the rigours of daily life for many continue to be tough questions of survival that hope has faded. The attacks on immigrant communities in Alex and other communities throughout the country have put a sever strain on the migrant community. They have shown South Africa to the world in a negative light.

Is the dream over?

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