Dr. Pali Lehohla
JOHANNESBURG - Professor Sampie Terreblanche’s book Lost in Transformation makes for an appropriate and relevant read among many who are informing reflections on South Africa after 24 years.

Terreblanche talks specifically on what he refers to as the Mining Energy Complex and its pivotal role in perpetuating poverty, unemployment and inequality in South Africa.

He ends with major lamentations on what tragedy will spur South Africa to address those fundamentals that the politics and economy failed to address in their struggle for control, power and influence and the deliverance of a better life, especially for the poor.

His analysis suggests that the state, as a contested phenomena, has been a power play for control of unequals consisting largely of capital, labour and the government.

He argues that labour was significantly weakened in settler colonialism and the apartheid era.

He says the government was also weak and became even much more weakened in the post-apartheid period.

The historic fall of the Berlin Wall and the noisy triumphalism of capitalism over socialism created a perfect storm, he surmises, for compromises that had to be made.

Terreblanche says the post-apartheid state got so weakened that it inadvertently led to further impoverishment of black and coloured communities, and that he does not see an end in sight of the injustice impugned on society.

He is appalled by the impunity with which whites have unashamedly justified their increasingly accumulated wealth in post-apartheid South Africa.

He argues that the ugly ducklings of apartheid have, without the slightest performance of right to passage, now turned into the swans of post-apartheid South Africa.

He sees this as the biggest betrayal of transformation that has condemned millions into unforgivable poverty.

He argues that a few black South Africans, and the expanded bureaucracy, have served as conduits and conveyor belts of this injustice.

This is a book that South Africa and its leadership has to possibly read in addition to the many sources of information, because of the depth and richness it provides.

It covers Codesa and the pre-Codesa discussions.

It brings on to centre stage the role of capitalism globally and in the geopolitics of South Africa, and explicates how we ended with the settlement we had.

What is crucial is whether what South Africa entered into at the time of a negotiated settlement was not a justified temporary reconciliation of contradictions to create the space for peace, and set the platform for transformation.

I am reminded that Lenin had to enter the treaty of Brest-Litovsk - a painful peace - but it was a necessary respite for the Bolshevik socialists to regain strength and pursue their mission.

They suffered a loss and were humiliated as they surrendered territory, but gained more steps forward.

Dialectics as Lenin teaches us to go nay ye nay nay ye ye ye nay ye.

Do we have a choice and how can lost ground be regained to ensure that the lamentations of Sampie Terreblanche do not eventuate?

Nelson Mandela said we should not linger, and that it is in our hands.

They did what they had to do to secure a platform for fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality.

But it is for us to take the struggle forward.

Dr Pali Lehohla is the former statistician-general of South Africa and former head of Statistics South Africa.

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