Dr Lehohla is the former statistician general of South Africa and the former head of Statistics SA. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi
Dr Lehohla is the former statistician general of South Africa and the former head of Statistics SA. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

The real numbers: Undoing the stubborn design of apartheid

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 4, 2020

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By Pali Lehohla

JOHANNESBURG - Apartheid was a compre– hensive design. It was a well thought through economic, social, biological, political and physical design.

It used race to determine and direct its pernicious mandate with precision. Undoing it is proving intractable and the gains made shortly after 1994 prove to be a distant mirage as we muddle through a deluge of corruption.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has named the ANC accused Number 1 in corruption.

Like earth falling from the river bank of an angry river, flotsams of this deluge are now free falling into the ocean of orange garments.

Last weekend, I made my first and farthest trip in seven months to Winterveldt, north of Pretoria.

I met an old man from the Eastern Cape who settled in Winterveldt in 2000. In 2011, he bought a hectare on which he erected his house.

I curiously noted that it was distinct in its bright light blue – perhaps in nostalgia of the brightly painted massive rondavels found on both sides of the Kei River.

He says South Africa has a bright future. Look at this land.

The potential to raise the recipients of old-age pension and their children out of this misery rests in this land. However, he shakes his head in disgust at the massive corruption. Not far from him is another local oldie, who has held the lantern of success for agriculture.

His story is also similar and his disdain for corruption the same. What then was the Estina Dairy Farm for when a century of practice abounds in the likes of the elders of Winterveldt?

As I drove back, my thoughts played out on the matters raised by the old men and their imbued hope of the change they wanted. I circled in the historically white urban areas where I stay.

Like the townships where there is only one street in and out, these suburban areas have assumed the same character. Apartheid design is hard to cure. It generates crime and fear creates conditions for transforming suburban multiple entry and exit streets into only one entry and exit point. How stubborn apartheid design can be?

Perhaps it is the liberating effect of free thought, its articulation and the hope in the eyes of Winterveldt that encourages us. It is perhaps the roar of the buffalo that caused the free fall of the earth into the waters of the angry river towards the ocean of orange attire.

As we lift our heads out of Covid-19, we shall see the new beginning that the juvenile minds and hearts of the Winterveldt elderly embellished.

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

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