In what turned out to be an inspirational day, I had the chance recently to hear Dr Mamphela Ramphele talk on South Africa’s turning point, post-Marikana.
Dr Ramphele pointed out that in the Marikana massacre we have come face to face with our Tunisia moment. There is an urgent need for a social compact going forward. Citizens are now awaking to the irresponsibility they display by not getting involved.
Our democracy was as the result of a negotiated settlement, but not all the voices were heard around that negotiating table. She contends that an elite pack of people in the private sector got away with murder. The mineral wealth of the country is the foundation of the commercial environment. Those who were at the table have benefited but in general the poor and previously disenfranchised are no better off than they were under apartheid. Some believe they are worse off now and this is a very dangerous place for us as a country. This creates an alignment between the old wealthy white and a few new elite black people.
The Reconstruction and Development Plan (RDP) spawned a destructive pattern of tender entrepreneurship. BEE and Social grants have not helped our people.
According to Dr Mamphele, if we truly evaluate our mining sector it is an inhuman model. The apartheid system of black and white is still in place. Very little attention is and has been paid to the workers. This virus is spreading to other sectors too like agriculture in the Western Cape.
We may be in a crisis, but all crises should be seen as opportunities not to be wasted.
We need to acknowledge that we have unfinished business. The reconciliation commission only touched the tip of the iceberg. Inequality hurts everybody. South Africa needs to reinvent itself with a new social compact between citizens, government, unions, civil society, religious bodies, business, capital and the general public. Mining and agriculture need to be transformed into high skill and high tech industries. They need to be modernising for greater growth.
Radical human settlement development needs to happen. All you have to do is look out of the window when arriving in Cape Town to see the massive inequality in human settlements that still exists even after so many years of ANC rule and democracy.
There needs to be massive skills training. ICT must be in every school and public area where citizens meet. We should institutionalise national service for all graduates for two years to give back to those who have funded their education. Education needs to be freer as a result so young people are not so indebted because of their education. We need civic education. There is no reason for any of our citizen to be illiterate.
Her closing words rang true: Remember that violence is the weapon of the powerless.
So, what is your opinion? What should we be doing from our position of privilege?