We have a president-in-waiting who has bared his teeth for about 20% of his caretaker ship. For the rest, he set about sending a begging-bowl around the world asking, like Oliver, for “more”. He promises to clean out the corrupt even as many of the miscreants roam about freely. One or two strategic arrests here and there, with the cases filed for much later (read “after the election”) and the guilty strut their stuff unabashedly.
Now factor in a national moral indignation that collectively swoops on a lady who dared suggest that things were better in the past. We scream “racist” and vilify or imprison those who are sacrilegious enough to even suggest that we are enjoying some privileges from the colonial era.
Would I be jailed for reminding us that railway lines laid down all those years ago are still functional?
Or that concrete blocks that anchor the mighty pylons that stretch our electricity grid across the land are still standing? And the fateful twitter that was made on a cellular phone while the twit was tweeting from another country?
But we paid a great price for these advantages. The railways and roads were built on the backs of the poor, who were discarded into misery by low wages in the open and sweat-shops called factories.
The prices we pay for medication, fuel, schooling, housing are controlled now, as it was then, by the very whites who are so smugly silent. Very few of the workers became rich and compliantly silent.
We inherited a new race of rulers who weren’t prepared to put in the hard yards. Better to clean out the state coffers and join the elite whites as captains of industry and travellers of the world. No home-grown charity or upliftment for the man in the street whose honest day’s misery fuels the machine that grinds out the gold and the rands.
How can we reconcile these disparities? Supermarkets are flourishing, buildings are going up daily, we produce great fruit, meat and vegetables and the trucks trundle along our highways past the misery in the squatter camps.
The workers are crippled by high costs of travelling to work, which remain located in high income areas which can only be accessed by public transport. These workers, in order to rail (bad pun) against this inequity, are now buying into the hash tag that leads us all to the trash bag.
How do we make it better? We should take a moral audit in order to contrive home-bred solutions. Make workers shareholders, re-inspire teachers, re-empower parents, and drop the myth that only the ANC can lead us.
* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.