Opinion / 26 August 2019, 09:00am / EBRAHIM HARVEY
Johannesburg - Not even the most pessimistic forecasts of a future ANC government in a post-apartheid South Africa, by its opponents and critics inside the broad liberation movement, such as the PAC and Azapo, could have foreseen the sheer depth of the degeneration, decay and corruption which is so rampant in it today.
There is no liberation movement on the African continent which won power in a country as industrialised and economically and technologically advanced as South Africa was in 1994.
We had enough wealth to probably feed not only our own people but those in other neighbouring countries in Southern Africa as well.
We were the wealthiest and most powerful country in Africa and blessed with a storehouse of strategic minerals which was the envy of the world.
As a result, when the ANC took power in 1994 there was huge potential for it to steer the country in a direction which at least met the basic needs of black people, who for centuries, in one form of another, suffered gruelling oppression, exploitation and violence at the hands of both the Afrikaner and British colonialism, racism and exploitation.
After so many years of hardship, most black people yearned for a new ANC government, in the fervent belief that they would genuinely care for and represent the interests of black people, especially the working-class majority, who the ANC regarded as the “motive force of the revolution”.
Instead, today poverty is as gruelling as it was under apartheid, unemployment is at its highest in many years and social inequalities are far worse than they were under apartheid, due to the fact that such inequalities have grown much more within the black population than between it and the white population.
The result is an explosive and still growing intra-black class divide.
The black working-class majority, whose labour produced the enormous wealth of this country and who therefore reasonably expected to be the biggest beneficiaries of the democratic changes after 1994, have very little to celebrate after 25 years under ANC rule.
Instead, it is from their ranks that the unstoppable township protests have been waged since June 2004, making us for several years the protest capital of the world.
Their well-known sophistry aside, who in the ANC leadership would today, therefore, dare try to deny that they have failed and betrayed the black working-class majority, who loyally stood by them through the darkest days of apartheid and when they were driven into exile?
Such failures and betrayals are indelibly etched into the fabric of post-apartheid history.
The killing of Andries Tatane and injuring of hundreds of other protesters, whose crime was to take a stand against the deplorable conditions in black townships, the Marikana massacre of black miners who were fighting for a living wage, and so much more are grim reminders of how terribly things have gone wrong in this country under ANC government - as are the wretched poverty, joblessness and many social miseries black workers, their families and the jobless daily suffer in townships across this country.
All this and much more will not and cannot be easily forgiven or forgotten; not while the ANC still has its jackboot on the necks of protesters and has failed to meet their most basic needs and rights in the townships.
With the trade unions in serious decline in many respects, it’s the fightback in the townships that has for more than a decade become the new locus of struggle, as we saw once again in the run-up to the May elections, which was resumed immediately afterwards across the country.
It’s the ordinary people in those combustible protests who are our biggest heroes and heroines, who against great odds have fought valiantly against the poverty, degradation and squalor of their daily lives.
Yet all they wanted was for their most basic needs as human beings to be adequately met.
But the betrayal is even more tragic when faced with the bitter truth that much of the funding meant to improve black lives in townships corruptly ended up in the pockets of ANC officials in all areas and levels of the state.
Nowhere and in nothing else the ANC has done since 1994 is the essence of this tragic betrayal spelt out more graphically than in this deplorable fact.
* Harvey is an independent political writer and commentator.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.