SA is falling apart and, yes, it is your fault

Ideas

SA is falling apart and, yes, it is your fault

We're all playing the blame game. We'd be better advised to take an unflinching look in the mirror

Columnist

So this is where we are now: the political noise is at full blast, the whites say the blacks are revolting and incapable while the blacks say the whites are revolting and selfish. If you were to listen to many so-called South African leaders, on social media and other public platforms, that is where our country is today. A country divided, our backs to each other.
A mere 24 years after we seemed to cohere under the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, we are swiftly disintegrating into a country of us and them, of camps and villages where we are defined by the colours of our skin. We are pointing fingers, we are shouting, we are angry. We cannot hear each other. We cannot bear each other.
Meanwhile, the ideological glue that has held it, largely, all together is coming undone. The ANC, the self-styled “leader of society”, is a party whose every regional or provincial meeting is characterised by the throwing of chairs, the intimidation of members, the paying of bribes and the shouting-down of leaders. There is no thinking, no reflection, at ANC conferences. There is merely the warring for positions. The ANC cannot hold itself together. It cannot, therefore, hold the rest of our society together.We are all to blame for this sad state of affairs. After 46 years of apartheid and 300 years of colonialism, one would think there is no need to educate my fellow white compatriots about the devastating effects of apartheid on the psyche, the material conditions, the dignity, the wealth of black people. Yet, sadly, many times I listen to “perfectly ordinary” white South Africans in wonder as they seem to be totally ignorant of (or deny to acknowledge) the devastation wrought by the system of apartheid and the privilege it has given them.
I am amazed at how they quote the words of AfriForum leaders such as Ernst Roets back at me. Really? Is this your leader?
The chance to open up opportunities for their fellow compatriots passes them by daily as they refuse to see that they have power to hire just one more young black person, help send one more kid, promote just one employee, in their businesses – or find some other way to change this country in their own little corner. Instead they complain incessantly about “them”.
Everybody else's fault
Meanwhile, after 24 years in power, with the ability to legislate and the opportunity to make change, black leaders spend most of their speeches moaning about how “they” (whites) refuse to change and how they have their hands firmly on the levers of power. Our “leaders” love analysis so much they are keeping it stoked and roaring like a winter fire.
Perhaps we should remind our leaders that they were not elected to appear at rallies, commemorations, dinners and other functions to constantly bemoan the power of white business, white corporates and white SA society. They are called “the executive” precisely because their job is to implement the many promises they have made on and off the campaign trail about change.
Instead, take a look at many of the speeches of our so-called leaders. The EFF’s Julius Malema says “the majority of Indians are racist”, for example. On what evidence? Meanwhile, former president Jacob Zuma has accused “powerful” white business owners of using black people to mastermind his departure from office. Hello? Was Zuma following white people’s instructions when he removed Thabo Mbeki from office in similar fashion?This is where we are now: the problem is the whites, or the blacks, or the Indians or the coloureds. None of us seem to look around and say: “Surely I have the ability to change this; surely I have the power in my hands to change this.”
It is time to change the narrative. On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa told a gathering of thought leaders: “If we are to liberate ourselves from the shackles of the past as well as the troubles of the present – and there are many troubles that our country is going through right now – we must be prepared to dream about a shared future for all our people.”
He, too, must stop the jaw-jaw and start exercising the power we have given him.

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.