Ryland Fisher is an independent media professional. Picture: Facebook
Just over a week since we voted in our sixth democratic elections and South Africans once again demonstrated to the world the power of tolerance and patience, there are already signs that, in the minds of some people at least, it is going to be more of the same over the next few years.

An incident which has caused me some disturbance involved a Stellenbosch emeritus professor sexually assaulting a woman waiter and calling another woman the K-word, in Observatory last week.

Retired professor Leon de Kock has since been arrested and charged with crimen injuria.

An incident such as this is probably understandable in an environment where the Freedom Front Plus with its racist policies has increased its share of the national vote, emboldening many who long for the days of apartheid. 

Another incident that has provoked anger inside me is the complaint by “a single resident” over the call to prayer (athaan) at the Zeenatul Masjid in District Six - the Muir Street Mosque - an institution that has been standing for more than 100 years. The city will now investigate this complaint after the holy month of Ramadaan.

Why anyone would move into the area and then complain about one of Islam’s sacred traditions, is beyond me. I suppose this is one of the dangers of gentrification, when people of a particular hue and class move into previously black working-class areas and then try to change everything to suit their needs.

A few years ago, at the Cape Town Festival hosted in the Company’s Gardens, a young man came to me five minutes after we started performances, demanding to know when we were going to stop. It was just after 10am and we were going to continue until 6pm, was the bad news I had for him.

He then told me that he moved into the area recently and nobody told him that he was going to have to deal with noise from concerts in the gardens. Throughout that day, the police came about five times to check our noise exemption permit after they had received complaints from residents, probably the same resident.

I was so angry that a complaint by one person (or even a few) had the potential to spoil the day for everyone else who came out because of their belief in tolerance and wanting to learn from different cultures and religions.

One of the priorities for the new government should be to promote social cohesion and integration in an active way, not just through a few events every year.

But my biggest concern this week, as the president contemplates how he is going to deliver on a cleaner and leaner cabinet, was the release of the latest employment figures by Statistics South Africa. It is an indication that the so-called new dawn will not be as easy to implement, even after a vote of confidence by the electorate.

The small amount by which the unemployment figure went up to 27.6% shows that, despite the good work done by the president to attract investments into South Africa, he has still not been able to make a difference where it matters - providing jobs to the most vulnerable in our society.

The president seems to talk a good economic story and his previous involvement in business makes one want to believe him, but it is difficult when one has rising unemployment as well as rising inflation, built on the back of steep petrol and diesel prices.

To some it might seem that building tolerance and creating jobs are at opposite ends of the needs list, but they are not. They are both important if we want to take our country forward.

Jobs are important, but so is the need to understand the complexities of our vibrant and diverse country. One cannot be achieved without the other.

* Fisher is chief executive of Ikusasa Lethu Media. Follow him on Twitter: @rylandfisher

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.