1. HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND PROCESSES……
South Africa is an integral part of the African continent; and like all African countries it is the result of colonial and imperialist conquest that led to the division and re-division of Africa among imperial powers following the Berlin Congress of 1884-85 and subsequent World Wars I and II. The end of World War I saw the re-division of Africa among the victorious powers; Germany losing German East Africa or Tanganyika (now Tanzani) to Britain and German West Africa or South West Africa (now Namibia) which was given over to South Africa to administer from the Mandate of League of Nations, now under the Trusteeship Council after the United Nations which succeeded the League of Nations.
At the end of the World War II a new world order was ushered in which heralded the end of colonialism in all its forms and elevated the right of colonised and dependent countries and peoples to independence and self-determination. This accelerated the process of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles that saw the colonized countries of Asia and those under the former Ottoman Empire attain political independence and the exercise of the right of self-determination. Africa followed suite as the wind of change blew over the entire continent uprooting colonialism, white minority rule and apartheid. Thus Africa entered the 21st Century rid of colonialism, white minority rule and apartheid.
Post apartheid South Africa is therefore the outcome of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles accelerated by the new world order following World War II that ended in 1945 and saw the birth of the United Nations which supported decolonisation. The struggles on the African continent were waged or fought under the banner of Pan Africanism – the quest for the total liberation and unification of Africa. The successes of these struggles were strengthened and accelerated by the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) founded on the 25th May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Africa has come a long way since the independence of Ghana on the 6th March 1957 and the founding of the OAU on the 25th May 1963. The total liberation of Africa was achieved when the last colony on the continent – apartheid South Africa attained national freedom after a long and arduous political and civil strife combined with armed struggle supported by economic sanctions, arms embargo, cultural and sports boycott imposed by the international community culminating in talks about talks that led to the release of political prisoners, the unbanning of the liberation movements, the return of exiles and the beginning of negotiations and the reaching of agreement on the drawing of a new constitution that opened the way for the democratic elections on the 27th April 1994.
The end of colonialism, white minority rule and apartheid marked the beginning of a long process towards the eventual unification of the continent and the struggle for economic emancipation. The process towards uniting Africa kicked off with the establishment of the Pan African Parliament in March 2002 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This was followed by the Inaugural Summit that launched the African Union (AU) from 28th June to 10th July 2002 in Durban, South Africa. To achieve economic development, the AU created the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This is the framework within which Africa is waging struggle for the unification and economic emancipation of the continent. But for Africa to develop, she must stop looking up to the industrialised and developed countries of North and Japan for development aid and investment. The African continent must embark on self-reliance development strategies to build basic infrastructure such as roads, rail networks, bridges, dams, irrigation schemes, hydro-electric power, clinics, hospitals and schools using the available resources on the continent.
2. POLITICAL LIBERATION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES………
South Africa like all other countries on the continent has achieved political freedom; however, this freedom has remained incomplete without economic liberation. In some countries on the continent, political independence was followed by instability and civil wars that caused a lot of mayhem and destroyed schools, clinic, hospitals, water and sanitation systems; disrupted economic growth and development; destroyed road, railway and telecommunication infrastructures; claimed the lives of innocent people with women, children and the elderly being the most affected and continue to suffer because of the failure of African leaders to establish functioning and acceptable political institutions accommodating all political and ideological persuasions in the post colonial era as well as developing capacity to meet the expectations of the masses of the poor who suffered during the colonial era and continue to do so even after national freedom has been attained.
In the case of South Africa, the transfer of power from white minority to the African majority and the achievement of national freedom had little hiccups. There was undoubtedly violence; state orchestrated violence, so-called Black-on-Black violence; assassination of certain key and popular leaders such as Jafta Masemola, Chris Hani and Sabelo Phama who it was perceived would disturb the arrangement between Mr. F.W. de Klerk of the National Party and Nelson Mandela of the ANC; there were also attempts to disrupt negotiations at Kempton Park by the right wing fringe; there were also elements of the liberation movement who did not believe in negotiations because they were not convinced that negotiations will achieve the goals of the national liberation struggle. They continued to carry out sporadic attacks on targets and symbols of the apartheid regime. They refused to lay down their weapons or gather at the specified camps.
Despite all these incidents, the negotiations continued and succeeded due to the compromises, assurances and guarantees made by the leaders of the majority parties whose leaders had bent too backward to accommodate, appease and alley the fears of the white minority who for over three hundred years had dispossessed, oppressed, exploited, suppressed and humiliated the African majority whom they regarded and treated as inferior beings.
3. RECONCILIATION AND THE APARTHEID ECONOMIC STATUS QUO………
Political compromise was made at the expense of economic liberation because of the protection of property rights which has been entrenched in the new constitution. This state of affairs is buttressed by the policy of reconciliation that has meant the maintenance and perpetuation of the apartheid economic status quo and hence the continued disparities in the possession of property and wealth and the consequent racial and social inequalities that continue to characterize the South African society. This neo-colonial set up is perpetuated and sustained by the new ruling elites in partnership with the apartheid elites.
In practical terms this means leaving the control of the country’s basic resources such as mineral resources, agricultural resources, marine resources and forest resources in the hands of those who controlled them before 1994. This leaves the indigenous African majority dispossessed while they continue to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for other national groups and foreign interests. They do not benefit from these resources and continue to live in abject poverty and destitution in the midst of wealth and plenty in the country of their ancestors and yet politically free.
In other sectors such as manufacturing, service sector and information sector, the majority Africans are still illiterate or semi-literate, unskilled and semi-skilled labourers and consumers who earn wages far below the poverty datum line. These sectors are still owned and controlled by others other than the indigenous Africans whose positions in management are still at lower levels in the corporate hierarchy and at best tokens. The biggest handicap and excuse is that Africans lack the required skills and experience to manage such organisations or sectors or occupy executive positions in these enterprises. Africans also still need equity as well as access to credit to enable them to venture into such sectors. They also need political support to ensure that they enter these institutions without undue hindrance. This calls for political will, courage and policies to break the monopoly in the control of wealth and skills so that these can be opened up to the majority.
4. THE HAVES AND THE HAVE-NOTS………
It is the continued existence of the above situation that has given rise to the phenomenon of the haves and have-nots, the very rich and very poor, with the latter living in the township ghettoes, shack dwellings or squatter camps and the rural poor who are huddled in overcrowded, barren and unproductive and underdeveloped parts of the country including the farm workers who are treated as of yore; working like slaves, refused burial on the farms on which they have lived and worked on for decades; evicted with impunity, mistreated, sometimes shot and killed, overrun with trucks or tractors, beaten, refused to exercise their right to vote, children walking long distances to schools, in some cases schools demolished or closed; in other cases children taken out of schools to work on the farms.
This is the colonial situation which is still prevalent on most white farms in this country. This is the result of the continued exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few as was observed by Sobukwe in 1959. Over 50 years later this situation has yet to change and yet we have the government of the majority since April 1994. In fact the gap between the rich and the poor is widening by the day and aggravated by the neo-liberal policies of the ruling ANC government. The leaders of this country are not ashamed to acknowledge the fact that South Africa is the most unequal society in the world. There is no political will or radical strategy and programme to end the legacies of apartheid because the new ruling elites are beneficiaries of the economic status quo and have vested interest in maintaining and perpetuating this system of neo-colonialism. To change this situation, the struggle for equality and justice must be intensified. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania must re-affirm its policy of the most equitable distribution of wealth in this country with emphasis on equality of income which will enable equal access including land redistribution or confiscation for redistribution.
5. THE RULING ELITES AND THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE MASSES OF THE POOR………
The situation as we see it in new South Africa calls for radical change so that national freedom becomes meaningful to the masses of the African majority in whose name the liberation struggle was fought. It is true that no one expected miracles from the ruling elites. The masses of the poorest of the poor and have-nots expect the ruling elites to fulfill the promises they made to them when they were elected in April 1994 and in subsequent elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009. The masses of the people also expect the ruling elites to pursue the agenda of the liberation movement to its logical conclusion – that is liberation from all forms of domination, especially from economic domination and the continued lopsidedness in skills.
Failure of the ruling elites to tackle these challenges will send a wrong signal to the masses of the poor who had put their trust in the ruling elites. This will also question the commitment of the ruling elites to the cause of the masses of the poor especially disadvantaged communities of this country who also happen to be the African majority whose material conditions have yet to change remarkably since 1994. Despite this situation, the poor and destitute still hope that change for the better will come. There is an appeal for patience and the masses of the poor are told that Rome was not built in one day.
It is only time that will tell how long it will take until Rome is built and hope and patience fulfilled. But for as long as the socio-economic inequalities and the poverty inherited from the apartheid racial stratification remain intact, the masses of the poor will eventually realize that they were misled and made to live under the illusion that change for the better will come. And this will be the turning-point and the point of no return for the poor. And once this happens, it will be too late for the ruling elites to defend the unfulfilled promises they have made to the poor.
Already in some municipalities it is clear the patience of the poor is exhausted. The masses of the poor and have-nots have become restless as shown by unrest that has turned into violent protests characterized by destruction of government property, burning tyres, closing or barricading of roads, attacking homes of councilors and demanding the removal of corrupt councilors and those who are not delivering the expected basic services. The phenomenon of violent protests has become a general rule all over the country as unrest is spreading to other municipalities or areas where there is lack of delivery or poor service delivery.
6. NEO-LIBERAL FRAMEWORK AND CHANGE………
Failure to effect desired changes flow from the framework the ruling elites adopted after they came to power. Initially the ruling elites adopted the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) as development policy or strategy. RDP was people oriented. But along the way the ruling elites scrapped or abandoned this programme and replaced it with a new programme or policy called Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR). This programme or policy is more inclined to big business and put more emphasis on the appeal for investments, especially Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The new policy or programme does not seem to be different from the Structural Adjustment Programme of the IMF and the World Bank which wrought lot of havoc on economies of some African states. The new policy is based on privatization of state assets and has resulted in hundred thousands of job losses due to companies effecting what is known as restructuring. The restructuring is embarked upon to answer to the imperatives of the neo-liberal paradigm and globalization, that is, making the companies lean and mean so that their products can be competitive on the world market. This has led to workers being laid off as companies become more capital intensive in order to reduce cost of production. This increases the army of the unemployed and thus aggravating poverty and misery of the already poor and have-nots.
Neo-liberalism does not favour the robust role of the state in the economy. It is against state intervention in any form or shape. Neo-liberalism for its champions stands for competition between nations, regions, firms and individuals. According to them, competition is necessary because it separates the sheep from the goats, the men from the boys and the fit from the unfit. Neo-liberalism is based on the survival of the fittest. It is supposed to allocate all resources whether physical, natural, human and financial with the greatest possible efficiency. It is against social spending because this does not produce profits.
This explains why neo-liberalism is against state intervention or the role of the state in the economy. It is monopoly capitalism at its highest level of development known as globalization or the domination of transnational corporations of industrialized and developed countries or economies of the North and Japan supported by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as well as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The neo-liberal paradigm or framework inhibits upliftment and development of the poor because it is based on the rich or middle class as its driving force hence the focus on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).
7. IDLE HUMAN CAPITAL OR RESOURCE………
There can be no end to the imbalances or socio-economic inequalities or the gap between the rich and the poor in this country or privileged and disadvantaged without the decisive intervention of the state in the economy. If this does not happen, transformation will remain on paper or an empty slogan. There can be no change without the effective involvement of the poor themselves in the process of transformation. This cannot be done for them without them and by them. The point of departure here is the recognition of the existence of a huge human resource or capital that is lying idle in his country. This human resource or capital must be put to use in the transformation and development of the economy of this country.
We have seen this approach in the Chinese experience. The building and development of the infrastructure such as: roads, railways, bridges, dams, canals, irrigation schemes, hydro-electric power, schools, clinics, hospitals were the result of self-reliance. This approach will also help in the skills development of the masses of the people through involvement and training on the job. This approach will also promote local exchange of goods and services or internal trade instead of dependence on foreign investment to kick start this processes.
8. THE STRUGGLE AGAINST NEO-COLONIAL DOMINATION………
From the above analysis it is clear that South Africa like all African independent states achieved political freedom but did not achieve economic liberation. The ownership of the means of production, subsistence and distribution are still in the hands of the privileged white minority, local and foreign owners of capital. South Africa does not own and control the mineral resources; the energy sources; a huge portion of the land, forests and marine resources of this country. The bulk of the land is still in the hands of private owners and foreigners; the same applies to the manufacturing industries, service industries and the information industries or sectors.
We have a situation in this country where leaders have been elected by the dispossessed majority but do not represent the interests and concerns of this electorate; at best they represent their own stomachs and at worst neo-colonial and imperialist interests. The economy remains an appendage of the free market economies of the industrialized and developed countries of the North and Japan. These leaders are more concerned with the investors than with their own people and that is why their policies must be adjusted to the interests of these countries.
South Africa like most African independent states continue to be a supplier of primary goods to the developed and industrialized countries of the North and Japan; like all these countries South Africa is subject to the deterioration of the terms of exchange or trade due to the falling of prices of these primary goods affecting rates of exchange and the balance of payments and leading to chronic international debts that compromise the independence of these countries. Not surprising when there are political changes in the country you see these leaders running to London, Washington, Paris, Berlin etc, to go and explain to the leaders of these creditor countries not to panic or worry because there will not be any policy changes by the new leaders. They do not account to their own people or electorate, they account to their bosses in these capital cities of these developed and industrialized countries because that is where their bread comes from. We saw that after Polokwane when the President (Jacob Zuma) rushed to Washington D.C.and the then Minister of Finance rushed to London and the E.U. countries to explain the new situation that had arisen in the aftermath of the recall of Thabo Mbeki then President.
This is the situation in post-apartheid South Africa. We have a country that has not fundamentally changed since 1994 because it has carried forward the socio-economic inequalities and disparities that existed during the apartheid era into new South Africa. This means the material conditions of the majority have not changed remarkably; in fact, there is a view or perception that the life of the majority is worse than what it was during the apartheid era. It is not uncommon to hear people wanting to return to Egypt which is really sad for people to think of apartheid as having been better when so many people have suffered physical, mental and psychological pain and many others losing their lives and some still unaccounted for to this day.
The situation is made worse by the failure of the new elites to deliver simple services to the masses of the poor. This has led to some of these basic services such as water supplies being privatized to conform to the imperatives of the free market economy or the neo-liberal paradigm or being given to what has come to be known as ‘Tenderpreneurs’. In some cases privatization has been met with fierce resistance and violent protests from the masses of the poor. The case of Mothutlung is another where water, a basic necessity or need was deliberately cut in order to give tenders amounting to millions of Rands to water tankers who are relatives, friends and cronies of those in government.
The resistance and protests by the masses of the poor is a clear message from the poor that not all is well 20 years down the line since April 1994. They were made wonderful promises many of whom have remained unfulfilled especially jobs, houses and provision of basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity. They have been made to believe that all will just come down like Manna from heaven and this made the masses of the poor fold their arms and do nothing for themselves and this is the mindset which will be very difficult to reverse and in the meantime the ruling elites are amassing wealth, eating, wining and enjoying while the poor are wallowing in squalor and abject poverty. The ruling elites have in a very short space of time forgotten who they are, where they came from and how they came to be where they are today because they ‘eat good and dress good’ as Malcolm X (Malik Shabaaz) would say about the House Nigger.
This situation of poverty and misery has made others resort to crime to survive and some have yet to become political and realize that there is a need for an alternative to the ruling elites who are not going to change until they are booted out of office by the same vote that put them where they are today. But a lot of work will be needed to change the mindset of the masses of the poor who have been made to believe that there is no alternative to the current ruling elites except what they dread most – the return of the white minority and it is this that continue to blind the masses of the poor to the existence of other parties which are possible alternatives. But there is also a subtle manipulation of the race card which must be countered with a clear and consistent ideological and political education that will ensure that the masses of the poor do not confuse their interests with those of the ruling elites. Their interests must be a reflection of their material conditions and not to be confused with the flashy lifestyles of the ruling elites which are paraded and flaunted in expensive clothes, cars, big houses, birthday parties, weddings which are mirrored in the minds of the poor who are made to believe that they also will be like that one day. This is false consciousness which must be replaced by true consciousness.
The masses of the poor must be aware of their real material conditions which must be a reflection of their consciousness and interests. They must know that they are their own liberators. The struggle for liberation must start with the mind. Sobukwe said: ‘Once the mind is free the body will soon follow’. They must learn to do things for themselves, think for themselves and only accept help where and when necessary. They must shun the habit of handouts and develop the spirit of self-reliance. They must develop the habit and skills of working for themselves and not for others so that they must stop accusing others of taking their jobs whilst folding their arms and doing nothing for themselves and their children. Freedom must mean work or UHURU NA KAZI (freedom and work) as Tanzanians were exhorted under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Kambarange Nyerere.
9. ISSUES OF IMMEDIATE FOCUS………
There are fundamental issues that need to be addressed if there has to be change for the masses of the poor in South Africa. Some of these fundamentals constitute the elements of real power. They are essential for peace and stability. They constitute the priority of any new government that takes power from colonial rule, that is, classical, settler or apartheid colonialism. These fundamentals include inter alia: the state and administrative machinery, the economy, education and morality. These issues must be seen within the framework of the Africanist perspective driven and guided by the basic needs and interests of the African majority, that is, the poorest of the poor and have-nots; what Sobukwe describes as the illiterate and semi-literate masses of the African people.
(A) THE STATE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MACHINERY………
From the onset, changes must be effected in the state and administrative machinery. The army, police, the justice system, prisons and the civil service must be transformed drastically and radically to ensure that the leadership as well as management is in the hands of competent and capable leaders from the African majority and not just put in the hands of party cadres who do not have knowledge and skills. These changes must reflect the demographics of our society at leadership and management levels. This will need courage and political will to make the necessary decisions to effect these changes. There must be no equivocation as to what the intention of this process is – the indigenous Africans must be in the forefront of every aspect of life in this country. The cadres who are deployed must have the ability and capacity to provide leadership with competence and discipline.
(B) SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS OF THE DISADVANTAGED………
The economy of South Africa is still characterised by crying socio-economic inequalities and disparities in wealth possession. The white minority and foreign interests are still in control of the major instruments of production, subsistence and distribution buttressed by habit, experience, and monopoly of skills. The latter have been joined by the new African political, bureaucratic and business elites and together constitute the new ruling elites that maintain and perpetuate neo-colonialism. Together these elites share the spoils of the economic pie with very little trickling down to the masses of the poor who continue to live in abject poverty and squalor.
The masses of the poor and destitute comprise the majority of the urban toiling and unemployed masses, illiterate and semi-literate and live in the township ghettoes, shack dwellings or squatter camps adjacent to the opulence and wealth in the cities and suburbs of this country. Most survive on informal or small businesses comprising of the sale of a gamut of small articles, vegetables, fruits, beverages or soft drinks, cosmetics and the provision of a range of services including catering and hair dressing. Those who do not fall in this category of activities and have no other pre-occupation find themselves idling. We know that idle hands are Satan’s workshop. They become social misfits and resort to serious social evils in order to survive. They get involved in violent crime, prostitution, robberies of all types including car-hijacking, heists, bank robberies, bombing bank ATM’s with explosives, drug trafficking, rape, child and women abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, etc. Others do these things out of frustration but some choose these activities as a way of life and these must be dealt with ruthlessly.
In the rural areas the colonial law still reigns supreme. The master and slave relationship is still the order of the day. Unequal access to occupation and use of land has remained intact over 18 years down the line since 1994. The white farmers still occupy vast tracts of land comprising several farms for each farmer. Some of the land has even been turned into game farms which are of no benefit to the majority of this country except for tourists from Europe and Americas and some members of the new ruling class. The majority poor can no longer hunt and kill to enjoy the fauna/venison of their country and if they do so they are arrested or even killed for trespassing and pouching. Only those with money have the right to go hunting and shoot what is regarded as game. This is how alienated our people are from their land and its resources.
Farm workers on these colonial farms are still treated as of yore. They work like slaves and their rights are not respected or recognized by the farmer who is the employer. They are evicted from these farms at the pleasure of the farmer with no recourse to any judicial process and if any the case is lost in advance because of lack of evidence, insufficient evidence, no witnesses or simply because people are afraid to give evidence or the farmer get away with murder because some twisted or funny technicality as was seen with the killing of Chisale who was thrown in the lions enclosure. We know what happened and it is now history because the main perpetrator has walked away a free man whilst the Chisale family has lost a loved one and a breadwinner.
It is not uncommon that the farm workers and their family members are refused burial on these farms on which they have lived and worked for generations and no one does anything about this because these farms belong to the white farmers; it is their property -we are told. Farm workers are ill-treated, even killed and maimed and no one does anything about it. Sometimes their stock is taken or killed and no one does anything about it. Their children’s schools are sometimes demolished or closed by the white farmer and no one does anything about this and yet we respect the rule of law or human rights. All this is happening because these people have been alienated from the land which they one time owned but taken from them and occupied by force.
When people claim this land they are told that it must be bought on a willing seller/willing buyer basis and at current market prices. The properties our fathers lost in the townships under forced removals were compensated on a flat rate basis and the loss of income from these properties of about 50 years was disregarded because the poor were not important and did not need to be appeased. For instance my family was removed at Riverside (Storm near Eersterus) to Mamelodi (then Vlakfontein) in 1955 and we were given R60 000 as compensation in 2006 and at the time our parents had passed away and 8 of us had to share this money. This is what happened to other families in the same situation.
There are also the rural communities that live adjacent to the white farms and some under traditional authorities. Most of these communities live on barren and unproductive land. There are no good farming and grazing land on which they can engage in agricultural activities and stock farming except subsistence farming. All the able-bodied men and women have left for the cities in search of employment and only old men, old women and children have been left behind. Not much is being done to transform and develop these communities. No inputs such as training, equipments, fertilizers, etc have been forthcoming from the government, that is, local, provincial and national and yet we hear outrageous and irresponsible statements such as “use it or lose it” from a Minister of Land and Agricultural Affairs when there is nothing to show that the Department had done anything to help the land owners to effectively use the land.
It is clear that once people start ‘eating good and dressing good’ they forget who they are, where they come from and how they came to be where they are today. This is what is happening to the fat cats. Uppermost in their minds is food security. For them this can be only be provided by white commercial farmers, hence the neglect of the development of African farmers and rural communities. They forgot that the masses of the poor of this country were dispossessed and made only to work for others other than themselves. The only farmers the people know in this country are white farmers (Boere). Africans cannot be farmers. They must be farm-workers and nothing else. This mindset must be changed and the people must be freed mentally and psychologically so that they accept self-reliance as the basis for development. Who does not know that the Native Land Act of 1913 was introduced to stop African farmers and communities from competing with white commercial farmers?
Education is still characterized by inequalities and domination by the white minority elites. They have the monopoly of critical careers, skills or know-how, knowledge, experience, information and habit. There is an urgent need to change this lopsidedness so that the children of the disadvantaged and poor catch up in these critical careers and skills. This demands courage and political will from the ruling elites if they are serious about ending the imbalances inherited from slavery, colonialism, settler colonialism and apartheid.
More resources must be pumped into the education and training of the children of the disadvantaged and poor. These resources should be used to transform the material conditions of the schools including equipping these schools with relevant material and paraphernalia for learning and teaching such as libraries, laboratories, computers; ensure that these schools have properly qualified teachers; competent school managers with the authority to impose discipline and create conducive climate for teaching and learning; build more schools to solve the backlog of classrooms; solve over crowdedness and teacher-pupil ratio.
It is for this reason that free education becomes a necessity or logical proposition for the children of the disadvantaged and poor. This will enable these children to continue to tertiary education and training without interruption. This is the only way the disadvantaged and poor communities will be uplifted and participate and contribute in the economic and social development of this country. This is how the imbalances inherited from the apartheid system will be eliminated and a truly democratic and egalitarian society developed based on equal access and equitable distribution of resources.
We are all aware of the disintegration and decay of the moral fabric of the African society in this country due to many factors including migration, urbanization and industrialization. To counter these disruptive and destructive processes there is a need to restore Ubuntu Morality in order to regulate behaviour, human relations, attitudes and perceptions. There is a need to restore the dignity of the African family threatened with collapse due to the above mentioned factors but also because of the creeping in of new ideas and concepts affecting the relationship between males and females in our society. The family unit in South Africa has collapsed and is further disintegrating as most children are today without a father figure who is traditionally the head of the family and provider. If he is there he has lost authority or his authority has been rendered ineffective due to the shift in economic power in favour of the female or wife. This has resulted in many men or husbands deserting their families/homes to avoid humiliation and stress in order to find sanity where their position/status remains intact. But we also know that there are men or husbands who do not want responsibility or who are simply irresponsible and are afraid to raise a family or take care of children they have fathered. This also applies to women.
As a result of this situation, many single parent households are headed by women who have now become providers. This situation undoubtedly affects the family unit that has no father figure. This has led to children going out of control and misbehaving and some ending up in the streets indulging in alcohol abuse, using drugs and involved in all sorts crimes and some ending up in prison. This may sound like what feminists call male chauvinism. But this is just the reality in many African families today. This situation also leads to another phenomenon in which women end up having children from different males or fathers. To restore the African family unit and Ubuntu Morality there is a need to find reconciliation between tradition and culture on the one hand; and on the other hand the new ideas and forces unleashed by the new social and economic situation we are living in today. There is need for dialogue on the question of gender equality which was suddenly thrown in the African society without thorough dialogue and discussion. The concept has caused confusion and bitterness in many men who blame Nelson Mandela and the new ultra-liberal constitution seen by others as permissive for introducing gender equality and also the rights of children who can no longer be controlled or disciplined by their parents.
We are aware that women in the old democracies compete for comparable positions and jobs on the basis of merit and not appointed or pushed into these positions just because they are women irrespective of competence or necessary credentials. Even where the Proportional Representation electoral system is practiced women compete for comparable positions without favour from their male counterparts or government. It is real men and women with the same human rights and democratic freedoms who have access to these positions or opportunities. This eliminates tokenism, corruption and nepotism because the right men and women are there for the right positions.
Ubuntu Morality is inimical to moral degeneration in all its forms that include violent crime, abuse and violence against women and children; it is against drug abuse; alcohol abuse; raping of women and children. Ubuntu Morality does not accept abject poverty, squalor and deprivation living side by side with scandalous wealth and comfort. Ubuntu Morality is against individualism, selfishness, greed that has led to insensitivity and corruption that have become the order of the day and way of life in this country. The older generation and elders of our society have lost the respect they enjoyed in our society in the past. This was a means of social control which is no longer there because of the narrowing gap between generations, the result of exposure but also because of the nature of upbringing, nurturing or parenting.
Ubuntu Morality is against promiscuity and prostitution; it is for good sexual behavior; it is for one sexual partner so that we can combat the spread of this new germ warfare or alien disease known as HIV/AIDS that is ravaging and decimating the young, adults and old in our communities. Abstaining for the teenagers should be the first weapon in the line of defense. To wage war against this germ warfare, teenagers must know who they are as a people, where they come from as a people and how they came to be where they are today so that they can have direction and purpose as future leaders of this country. The African people of this country and continent will survive if we take ourselves very seriously, not taking others for granted and knowing our interests in relation to the interests of others and ensuring that we defend and promote our interests and thus prepare the future of our children and their children’s. Let us stop being agents of others; let us be our own agents and stop being dictated to and told what to do and not what to do by others who do not have the interests of the poorest of poor, the have-nots and the dispossessed of our country and continent at heart except those of their peoples and countries.
Izwe Lethu! I-Afrika!
By Molefe Ike Mafole
The writer is a Member of Azanian People’s Liberation Army Military Veterans Association (APLA-MVA) and Member of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) of Azania. He can be contacted on 072 630 2206.