Nothing to celebrate in South Africa as freedom is a farce


spiked online media

in , , , ,
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready…

As the curtains close on South Africa’s Freedom Month, Vedhan Singh writes why freedom is a far-fetched dream.

In its classic and synonymous symphony of synchronist harmonics, thirty years on, South Africa’s ruling party continues to hum the hymn it held heralding democracy.

Three decades to bring about change, the same song sung has started to get stale.

Let’s hover over some of the latest hymns from the ruling party’s hymn sheet, its 2024 elections hymn sheet.

Priority 1 on the ruling party’s manifesto is to “put South Africa to work” – South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world under its leadership, with the biggest irony being one of the ruling party’s flagship national departments, the Department of Employment and Labour. This is a department that cannot even stop the hiring or exploitation of undocumented non-nationals at below minimum wage and sub-par working conditions over its nationals, how then does it expect to be the flagbearer for employment and the labour force in the country? Unemployment and underemployment, joblessness and hopelessness, rejection and dejection, are the day-to-day lived realities of the ruling party’s voters.

Priority 2 is to “build industries to achieve an inclusive economy” – the control of the majority of industries remains in lily-toned hands with an economy totally excluding Africans–the rightful owners of the means of production–in every possible way, shape and form. Notably, Blacks are left with the crumbs that fall from the gulp of white truffle. Ostensibly, therefore, Africans do enter into the economic playground, that is, as SMME players dribbling around a makeshift ball on a dusty sandy soccer ground with sticks erected and tied together as goalposts, using the halftime to break and wash down dirty E. coli infested water supplied generally by the ruling party’s municipalities.

Priority 3 talks about “tackling the high cost of living” – it is the ruling party’s proxies in the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) who purposely but short-sightedly draw from the Bank’s monetary toolkit the tool of the repo rate to control inflation, which tool fails dismally owing to the rising costs in fuel and electricity, amongst other factors.

Is there anything else to be expected from the ruling party on priorities 2 and 3, seeing that of the 18 members of the SARB executives and committees, only 7 people are African, and of the 7, only 4 are African female?

The ruling party doesn’t care about its voters’ bond instalments that are ballooning and unaffordable, or, that middle-class Black voters simply cannot afford a mortgage. Not even the voters who secure ordinary state employment are remunerated enough through their salary or housing allowance to qualify for a reasonable bond, or, have it made any difference to their home loan instalment. See, according to the ruling party, Blacks are not to own homes, only lighter skinned, lighter hair colour, and lighter coloured eyes persons are to own homes. African, for the ruling party, is a synonym for home-less, land-less and ownerlessness.

On priority 4, the ruling party will “invest in people” – Which people? The people under its leadership who were mercilessly massacred in Maricana; the people in Verulam whose taps are dry and don’t have a water supply for almost a year from the ruling party’s municipality in Durban; some of the people who unfortunately suffer from cancer where the Gauteng Department of Health has most recently unspent an allocated amount of R784 million on cancer care for the province; the millions of people who continue to live in inhospitable informal settlements in abject poverty living on unliveable grants or piecemeal jobs with some earning less than $1 a day, and generally finding themselves dumping and connected to electricity and water grids illegally owing to no other reason but for pure survival.

To “defend democracy and advance freedom” is the ruling party’s priority 5. What an embarrassment to democracy for the Electoral Court to rewrite the Constitutional Court’s ruling on President Zuma’s contempt of court ruling. Under this ruling party, to defend democracy is to sell off half of the country’s pride in the skies, its national airline, South African Airlines, for R51.00 after the favourite child prime minister in cabinet undervalued it by R7 billion. To advance freedom under the ruling party is to have Interpol name South Africa as the “Rape Capital of the World.” Under the ruling party, South Africa is a shock, a shame, a sham, and a scam!

Priority 6 on the ruling party’s manifesto is to “build a better Africa and world” – how, exactly, when South Africa is still widely known and regarded all over Africa as the most Afrophobic country on the continent. How will the ruling party build a better world when it leans towards the West and Stellenbosch as its puppet, dancing to the dictates of these powerful puppet master aristocratic landlords with such family names as Rothschild and Rupert?

Mindful of all of these realities, the difference in the drill in this third decade of the democratic dispensation is the beat of the song. Right now, the ruling party has pulled out every costume from its costume chest, blowing off the dust, and putting on the performance of its life. Perhaps it’s very last performance as a ruling party. Its beat is bemusing because it boasts of buffoonery bursting out of its bewildering bulge. Why such an upbeat urgent-sounding rhythm? Elections! It’s election season. The ruling party’s performance is a rigmarole. A scripted theatrical flop performance seeing it crisscross the country, going door-to-door. Fabricated storylines. Fake concern from its leadership crust. False promises. Fictitious feelings of concern for its voters finished off with food parcels.

The sentiment of South Africans, generally, after being associated with “freedom” for 30 years, is that the fun, fanfare and fizz created by the ruling party as it celebrates Freedom Month, is actually a forgery and fraud. Every day the majority of South Africans face fumbles and falls. Fumbles because the economy is fixed in the hands of certain pale-coloured, oppressive, neo-colonial persons; and falls because the ruling party trips and traps South Africans as they try to stumble and stroll, and then kicks them in the teeth when they attempt standing on their own.

Vedhan Singh is a commentator on South African politics, human rights and socio-economic issues.