The Straw that broke the Camel’s back

The Straw that broke the Camel’s back

A lot can be said about South Africa, her history and her people, some of it good, some of it bad, depending on how you want to view life.

But what can be said about her people is the amount of patience they have and ability to pull together when times are rough.

In a sense, one has to explain the backdrop of what I am speaking about, and one must stare the realities of the past in the face, confront it, work around it, as not to be haunted by it in the future.

For years South Africa has suffered the biggest failure of Imperialism, and that is to build your empire on top of the ashes of bones of a broken communities of people.

Imperialism, driven by the human “Greed Gene” has been the cause of great conflicts, but also great advancement, and one should already remember it in such a way.  The problem lies in the fact that someone need to do the work, and not all is really willing to work for it.

This Empire wanted the minerals in the soil of South Africa, and this also brought about a South African Genocide which few really remember these days, home and abroad.

This Empire also imparted the gift of Segregation Laws on us through a man called Sir Milner, and he and fellow imperialistic figures like Rhodes made sure that they would have “slave labour” to do their bidding.

This brought about the Apartheid State of South Africa which should also not be forgotten, because forgetting about your past is a sure way to repeat the mistakes you suffered in the past.

It brought great advancements in technology, healthcare, civil order and structure, but, it was broken.

Because all of these advancements were achieved on the backs of millions who didn’t benefit from these advancements or the money they generated.

These Segregation Laws revamped into the form we called Apartheid created the gap, a rift, which made terms like “middle class” and “lower class” acceptable.  It also created the situation where we are now sitting in, even after a Government change.

Now this is not the blame game, this is realty, and we need to confront it and move on.

There are two simple facts that one should face and that is

  • Government is dividing the people successfully by polarizing the groups in opposition with each other.  Fueling racial tension causing rifts with good policies which got badly implemented like AA and BEE. Creating strive between the different income groups, as well as racial groups.

    This in turn left  them up to their own devices and extra time to line their own pockets while we were busy fighting each other.

  • That even though everyone has said it a million times before, and even though most might be tired of hearing it, but that Apartheid had a massive role to play in this tragedy, because of the legacy of “Greed” it left behind in Corporate companies like Lonmin, and crafty State sponsored entrepreneurs in Government like Zuma who enriched themselves at the cost of the many.

The reason one must face this, it to understand how patient the people of South Africa really are.  After all of these years, nobody is really free.  We are all still slaves on a tax making machine for Government, but just divided along “class” lines more than racial lines.

Taxes which are supposed to be used to uplift the people, but are now siphoned off into the pockets of Corporate elite, dirty politicians who pay lip service and Government “Officials” (at some stage they manged to change the title from Public Servant” to Government Official without us even noticing)

These taxes do not only affect the middle income group, they also affect the low income group, and the unemployed.  Taxes like E-Tolls, which is one of but many such little surprise packages we found out about.  Who knows what we are yet to learn?

The problem is, that Government dealings are not transparent and nobody is accountable,  and the political parties who make up Government are also not really transparent, as they don’t reveal their party funding so that one can sniff out the rot of corruption even before it starts.

But now, the patience of the people of South Africa is wearing thin, and the emergence of a Civil Social Movement is on the grow, small communities are linking up and standing in solidarity with each other, united against a common threat to national security like the blatant corruption of Government “Officials” and asking questions about where all the money has gone.

Dodgy dealings which have surfaced in the last couple of years have created a platforms for people of all different groups in South African where they can pull together.  Pressing issues like unemployment, poverty, inflation, service delivery protests (Andries Tatane), wage related issues like Marikana (with Government ties),  Nkandla, WC2010, Armsgate and other scandals like GuptaGate and their kickbacks to Government and failures like Eskom has for once done something amazing, it has created an environment for Civil Movement Groups to grow, because people have seen that Politics is just about that, politicking and not really doing something about the problems.

Groups now have a chance to stand together, against a common enemy, The Corruption and Decay in Government.  People like Steve, Vavi and Rob can sit around the table and talk the same language, but first, for that to happen, we must start caring about each other again.  We must find our humanity and our empathy for each other and each others plight.

The Struggle is far from over, it has only yet begun.  Because we need to struggle against our Greed gene, which would allow for situations like this to come about, we need to struggle against putting ourselves ahead of those around us, because if the community is prosperous, the individual is prosperous.

A luta continua

Xenophobia, Strikes, Protests and Oscar … what could happen if Eskom goes down

Not to sound like Siener van Rensburg, the South African version of Nostradamus, or a “Doomsday” Prepper in Hamerica,  but things are looking pretty bleak in South Africa at the moment.

The reasons?  Well, there is seemingly a plethora of reasons if you look at it from the outside, but if you take all of these things and you boil it down to the core it is about what the Have’s are getting out of the system, opposed to what the the Have Not’s are getting out of the system it is pretty easy to spot.  Opulence and wastage due to corruption and maladministration while millions suffer in squalor  is the problem.

Recently, one of South Africa’s brightest mistook his girlfriend for an intruder in the bathroom.  He fired a couple of shots and neutralized the threat behind the toilet door.

During the same time the whole Nkandla issue was in the news, people were asking questions about Marikna and the Gupta wedding guests at Waterkloof, Eksom was failing, service delivery strikes went mainstream, E-Tolls took it toll and Andries Tatane got killed for standing up against a Government for demanding that which they have promised, service and reform, and a couple of thousand people become the victims of violent crime

Over simplified statistics from 1994 – 2014 from CrimeStatsSA

Murders – 194 507Attempted Murders – 213 470
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm – 2 331 897
Unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition – 161 332

Let that sink in for a moment …

While all this was going on our political elite rallied to defend the choices they have made, rather than admit the faults they have made.

Now I am now someone who dwell on the past in general, if you make a mistake, well, then there is nothing you can do from it but learn.

Sadly, it does not seem to be the case in South Africa today.

Frustration on the ground in South Africa is boiling over.  The reason why fanatical groups such as the EFF can capitalize and gain momentum for their cause.  They know that “freedom” without economic freedom means nothing, and that one is still a slave to the system in such a scenario.  One of the very few points I can agree with them, but their approach, much like Steve Hofmeyer’s “threat” in from on Paul Kruger’s statute with a clearly military undertone with the commando detail with him at the statue is crude, one sided and ultimately disruptive in the sense that it is not building, but rather breaking down.

Cecil John Rhodes was no hero in the bigger picture of the South African story, but regardless, he was part of it, for better or for worse.  Even though I do not like the man or his legacy, I can appreciate what he has done for Africa, and I can also acknowledge the fact that he is part of my history.  Not because he was white like I am, but because his policies and action had such a huge impact on the landscape of what we call the Republic of South Africa today.

Yet, the statue itself if not the problem, it never was.  The problem is the ever increasing divide between the Have’s and the Have Not’s.  The inequity and the blatant difference between the lifestyles the Have’s enjoy in the stark contras with what the Have Not’s must endure is widening the gap, creating a us and them scenario.

A gap where one of the brightest gets away with a little slap on the wrist for taking a life, where a foreign national gets away with the murder of his wife and his South African accomplices end up paying on their own paying for his crimes.  A gap where a President allow the State to build him a mansion of R250 million and dine and drink on the best South Africa has to offer while millions go to bed hungry every night, a country where two siblings died of hunger in Soweto.

What does the Suicidal Dewani, Oscar and Zuma have in common? Money … and it seems that in South Africa your money determine how far you make it in life, and which bullets you can dodge, Matrix Style.

All this in a country where a normal man like Andries Tatane died for holding Government accountable on their election promises.

While millions suffer there are a good number of people living like there is no tomorrow without having any thoughts about the mother with the child on her back who is pulling a full trolly of garbage through the suburbs back to the recycling agent which can be as far as 15km’s away for a mere R1000 per month pittance.

A country with thousands refugees who fled their countries to come to South Africa in hope of stability and peace, are now again victims of violence in South Africa because of failed Government policies.

A country on the very brink of social collapse …

Now take all of these factors and add one failing power utility company and let your mind wander for a moment on what would happen if you take all of these problems and add a month long power outage, which is a very real possibility with the electrical grid under so much strain already, sitting at Stage 3 Load Shedding.  How will we survive the coldest months if we are already at our peak now?

The impact on South Africa would be devastating.  The Have Not’s will come looking for resources, and they will take what they want, if you like it or not.

Wednesdays …

Strange how one can become used to something so quickly.  You wake up one morning, you decide that you are going to start the day with a coffee, and all to soon this becomes a habit, and you get used to it, so quickly that you don’t even notice that you have picked up a new “bad” habit.

Amazing though, that this phenomenon also occurs if you spread out the occurrence of the action even by a couple of days.  Stranger still the fact that you can become desensitized by seeing something once every week … specifically Wednesdays …

You see, Wednesdays is the day the City of Tshwane comes around to clear out the garbage bins which stood for a week, collecting all the refuse “normal” people get rid of on a weekly basis without giving it much thought of what is going into the trash, and eventually, where the trash will end up.

It’s been bugging me for a while now, and honestly, I have no idea how to tackle the problem on my own, and I think this might be one of the reasons why I got “used” to seeing what I’ve been seeing without actually doing something or saying something about it, and there in lies the problem I have with myself, with our ANC led Government, and the South African society as a whole.

Every Wednesday, after putting out the garbage bin for collection they come. In their masses, pulling their self made carts behind them in the hope that today brings in the loot they are hoping for, something to eat, something to re-use, something to sell …. scavengers, poorest of the poor, dirty, stinky, filthy and freezing as they walk down the street from bin to bin, pulling the carts behind them with the loot which they have already scavenged from the bins down the street.

Everyone sees theses scavengers.  Most don’t even notice them anymore, some still do though.  Like the old man who is on pension down the road from us, who diligently sits on his porch, keeping an eye out for these vagrant bin looters, to chase them away because they sometimes leave behind a mess after going through a bin, sorting out what is edible, what is re-usable and what is just nasty old junk.

Not all people are like this grumpy old man though … but the sad part is that most do not even notice them … these Raiders of the Trash who come in all shapes, sizes and colours.

A week ago it was pretty cold here in Pretoria, and as I rushed out of the house to go to the office I remembered it was garbage day.

I quickly ran inside, grabbed the black bag from the bin in the kitchen and promptly discarded it in the big black bin while I waited for the gate to open.

It was then that I saw her.  The young black woman standing out there in the cold with a summer dress, long socks pulled up to her knees and a thin blue jersey which has seen better days judging by all the holes in it and the strings of wool which pulled out of the pattern.

She was quiet, shy, but friendly, not really making eye contact, but none the less standing there, waiting for someone to bring out the bin so that she can start going through the trash in the hope of finding something useful.

I tried to greet her, but I was a bit surprised after looking down at the ground while I pushing the bin out, and suddenly seeing the old shoes and the socks and looking up into the face of desperation.

I finally managed to get a “Um, hello, good morning … ” out, but as the worlds left my lips I started thinking ” What are you saying?  Is this really a good morning for her? ” …

The feeling I had that morning won’t be going away soon, and it served as a harsh reminder of the reality of what we as a nation, and as a species are facing.

As we are closing of this week and getting ready to cast our vote next week Wednesday it must serve as a reminder for us all that everything is not “OK” or “Good” by any means, and that we have only ourselves to blame for allowing the “leaders” of our young democracy to abuse and plunder State resources by enriching themselves through monsters like Nkandla and the ArmsGate deal the cost of the people who put them in power, hoping for a better future.

Let this Wednesday serve as a reminder for those of you out there who are still supporting the current status quo of what we are really voting for come next week Wednesday.

Remembering Anene, Remembering Andries …

Last week Jacob Zuma delivered the State of the Nation address at Partliment’s opening and yet again he failed to address the real issues at hand in South Africa, but instead he spoke about TAX reforms which would just squeeze the already overburdened taxable population and the ultra poor just more.

One would have thought that more people would have something to say about SONA, hell, one would have thought everyone in South Africa would have had something to say about the State of the Nation with the 42c petrol hike, which is now going to be followed by a 87c hike, the partly State owned utility company, Eskom, who wants to increase it’s tariffs with 16%, the fact that Government lied to us about the E-Toll saga, of course there was little other things like the R250 million (and climbing) Nkandla and the R1.5 Billion spent on the Road to Nkandla  which Government upgraded under the National Key Point act of 1980.

I thought people would be fuming around the mouths about horror crimes like the violent rape and disembowelment of Anene Booysen, the rape of a 1 year old toddler in Limpopo, the rape of a 91 year old Gogo (grandmother) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the violent murders on farmers, on the elderly, on children … but no …

Sadly, these horrific crimes and injustices against the population of South Africa are not the main focus of our macabre society.

The reason for this is our collective morbid fascination with the Oscar Pistorius incident which transpired in the early morning of Valentine’s Day.

Before I explain why, let me firstly say this though.  I feel for the families involved, no matter which way you look at it, it is a terrible and traumatic event, and nobody who is closely involved will ever be the same, and I wish everyone the best and that justice will prevail.

Here, is where my interest in the incident ends.  The reason for this is that the media hype over this incident has overshadowed everything which in my opinion, carries more weight than a single death, accidental or not.

You see, Anene Booysen is a 17 year old colored girl from Bredasdorp in the Western Cape. She went out with her friends, and then she left with her ex-boyfriend and a couple of his friends.

She was brutally raped, disemboweled, her legs broken and left to die by her assailants.

Then there is the brutal death of Andries Tatane, who died in a service delivery protest by the hands of the South African Police Force in Ficksburg because Government had failed to deliver on the promises they made since the fall of Apartheid, they were stuck in the same economic wilderness as before the fall of Apartheid, some even worse.

Every single day, there about 18000 murders in South Africa apart from the murders we are almost top of the log when it comes to violent rapes.

Rape.co.za puts the amount of reported cases of rape between 2009/2010 at 68 332. Because not all cases get reported to authorities this number may actually be much higher.

That is about 50 murders and 187 reported cases of rape per day on a population which is estimated at 50 million.

India, on the other has, with a population of 1.2 billion reports about 72 cases of rape per day.

Clearly one can see that there is something very wrong with our society, and this is where my grief lies.

The populace in general is making a big scene about Oscar Pistorius case and totally forgetting the marginalized John Doe’s on the street who are also victims to these violent crimes.  Not only are they forgotten, but it seems that everyone is avoiding the cause of these symptoms of our corrupt and amoral society.

This brings me to the cause of these cancerous symptoms, the ANC led Government with Jacob Zuma at it’s head.  It has failed us, the people of South Africa.  They have neglected the upliftment of South Africa as a whole through their never ending internal “struggle” for the spoils of war after the fall of Apartheid and their lust for power.

Liberation songs like “Umshini wami” which translates into “Bring me my machine gun” were sung by our President Jacob Zuma, the same Zuma who has not yet answered for corruption charges brought against him before he took office,  and other well known former political allies like Julius Malema who once swore to start killing in the name of Zuma, and who has now fallen out of favor along with being investigated for abusing his political ties for financial gain.

No, sadly only those with some sort of political connection and the politicians themselves got uplifted while the rest of the country suffered the evils of corruption and failed administration of State resources.

Corruption and mediocre policies, and the implementation of these policies, lies at the the very core of our sick society and yet we decide to make a fuss about one person who has been killed,  but we can’t save a second or two to think about the hundreds who are effected every day through violent crime?

We can’t spare a thought about the State of our Nation and the fact that all the politicians from the various political parties walked down a red carpet in fancy evening wear for the opening of Parliament like famous Hollywood actors on their way to the Oscars? (I assure you, no pun intended)

Something is very very wrong in our society, and I urge you to start thinking critically, stop being negative towards each other and have a little more patience with one another.

Look past the differences and focus on the things we have in common, and one thing we have in common, from rich down to the poor man on street is that we are “Gatvol”.  Gatvol of poor service delivery, gatvol of potholes, gatvol of the murders, the rapes, the spade of violent crimes.

We are gatvol because we have to pay premium prices to give our kids a decent education in a private school because the public education system has failed our children, the next generation to take over from us.

We are gatvol because we have to pay premium prices to be able to go to private hospital because public hospitals are death traps.

Now think about those who do not have the finances to afford these premiums?  They are just as gatvol, and everyone is yearning for change!  This is our common ground from which we can build.

The change we are yearning for will only come once we as a nation stick together and see past each other differences, it will only happen when we realise that we are all connected in the bigger scheme of things and that we are dependent on each other.

I beg you, the reader, to be positive, to start becoming involved in these pressing socio-economic and political issues and to voice your concerns.  Don’t be scared to enter into conversation and most of all, treat those around you the way you would want to be treated, then relationship build on mutual respect will prosper and we will be able to reach out to one another.

We can build a better South Africa, one in where there will be no more symptoms of poor governance like the rape on Anene, like the murder of Andries, the massacare at Marikana.

Let us all stand together against Government and keep these people like Anene and Andries and all the other countless of people who have been victims of violent crime in our hearts, lets draw strength from the sacrifices they and their families have made and lets fight for our country!

Be heard as one voice

Violent Strikes in the South African Agricultural Sector, why and what will be the outcome?

South Africa is a country with great potential and with a unique and diverse culture.  It is the only country in the World where the minority ruled over the majority with an Iron Fist until 1994, and although this was not something which was born in South Africa self, it was a policy which was thought out and implemented by the then colonizers of Africa, the British under Lord Milner, it did leave us with a unique situation.

A unique symbiotic relationship developed between the two major ethical groups in South Africa, to the point where neither group can function properly without the other group, and this is not to say that one group should preside in the Master role and the other in the Slave role, because we are all equal, despite what most right wing commentators would say.  The only difference between the “Masters” and the “Slaves” was, and is still the level of education.  This is not a matter of opinion, but rather a simple fact which everyone who is honest with himself would agree upon.

Lately though, South Africa has been plagued by violent protests throughout all the major sectors of the economy.

The transport, mining, agriculture industry and service delivery strikes were the most prominent and made it onto the headlines of News24 every single day, even while the top brass in the ANC were spending millions of taxpayer money on their party celebrations over December.

Because there are just too many strings to follow and to discuss, and because I want to keep this short and sweet I will only give my thoughts on the violent strikes and protests we observed within the agricultural sector, and I am not going to pussy foot around the subject.

The ANC led Government has had “control” over South Africa for the last 18 years and yet the majority of our countrymen are still living in absolute poverty.  The reason Malema was such a threat to the ANC “regime” was because he was speaking the truth when he said that Freedom doesn’t mean anything without economic emancipation, albeit it that he had a very poorly thought out plan of Nationalization to deal with the issue at hand.

He was a threat to the political scavenger elite who are currently running the country, and though everyone knows that nearly everyone in a Government position has his hand down the cookie jar in some form or another he was allowed this “benefit” until he turned on his Master whom he was willing to protect and give his life for, Jacob Zuma.  After this his political career was crushed and now SARS is picking clean the bones of his sorry carcass.

But let’s leave that for there now and focus on the violent strikes in the agricultural sector.

So the farm workers were complaining about earning R65 a day … to put that into perspective … 2L of milk costs R20, a bread costs R5, taxi fare, depending on how far you are from your place of work is R15 if you are within a 30km radius, and then somewhere in between you must still put a little away for a rainy day?

Of course these workers have reason to be pissed off, the cost of living is rising, they mostly have no running water nor electricity, no formal schooling, and yet everyone around them are pocketing it big time, from their perspective while they are struggling to put clothes on the backs of their children, while they suffer to make enough money to feed their children.

R65 a day is nothing in the bigger scheme of things, especially when your “Baas” quickly jumps in his luxury 4 x 4 Toyota bakkie and drives off to the Pick & Pay, grabs some braaivleis and 12 ice cold Black Labels for the rugby.

This is not only true for the Agricultural sector, but everywhere.  The reason I know this is because I take the time to speak to those less fortunate than myself, those who were, and are still part of the “previously disadvantaged” of South Africa, the poorest of the poor.

Though, this might not always be fact, it remains the perception out there, and we have to work together to change the perception.

I know a couple of farmers personally, of whom I can only say good things, they provide for their workers, they build houses for them, they make sure they have running water, electricity, they give them food, and they even share their ice cold Black Labels with their workers, but this is certainly not what is happening as a rule of thumb, and this is where our problem really arises.

White South Africans  are too LAZY and they consider it beneath them to do manual labor  because that is a “kaffir’s” job.

Because of this, the South African system has always relied on cheap, unschooled laborers for these types of jobs, and although we share a unique symbiosis it does not mean that we have to enrich ourselves at the cost of our countrymen.

These laborers are trapped in a never ending struggle for survival where they work to survive, and survive to work, a never ending cycle with no hope of getting out of this closed loop system.

In no World is this fair towards anyone … I challenge those of you who are privileged enough to be reading this, not because I think this is a great opinion, but because you are privileged enough to be sitting down on your ass behind a computer, most likely in a air-conditioned office, with your fingertips on a keyboard, from where you can access any information you want to imagine yourself in the shoes of those laborers.

You would too do anything to provide for your families, to provide the very basics, which the South African Constitution “claims” your are entitled to as the very basic of human rights, the right to education, the right to a decent standard of living, the right to running water.  You would also burn the country if your perception is that you are suffering in the sun while the “Baas” can do what he wants, because he not only has freedom, but he is free from the financial constraints which is hampering you to better your existence, and to start designing a life.

The ANC led Government refuses to acknowledge the fact that Farm Murders, which are some of the most horrific murders in the history of South Africa are hate crimes, because if they do, then they will acknowledge their failure as a governing party. It is part and parcel of this perception which is out there and because of the deliberate “racial” divide which they keep on promoting from within governmental rallies and speeches, and this only compounds the dilemma we are sitting with, and this puts the whole country at risk of being destabilized.

They (the Government) are not forthcoming with ideas on how to address the problem, and I guess they are hoping that the flimsy stitches of this “Rainbow Nation” will stay in place for a bit longer while they loot the State coffers.  Not once have Government offered the farmers some sort of tax break if they up the daily wages of these laborers  because let’s face it, the farmers, are not all the filthy rich bastard “Boere” who do not care for the fellow countrymen, no, a lot of them are suffering under the economic pressures of our time with the operational costs of running the farm skyrocketing because of failed policies implemented by Government which causes havoc in our local economy.

In my heart I want to believe that, if they could, they would pay their laborers a decent daily wage, but I know that is idealistic, and there should be measures put in place to ensure those types of wages if it is possible from the farmer’s side.

There are so many factors which can change the ebb and flow of this situation, and I am just a spectator on the side, but one thing I know for certain is this.

If we don’t all try and work together and start looking out for Government, then we will all be chewed up and swallowed by the Monster which is governing our country, because if all the farmers leave, what will be left but barren earth … how will we feed our loved ones?

Coincidentally I saw a poster which read “If there is no more food the poor will be forced to eat the rich” … scary thought?  Well, just ask the Pygmies in the Congo is this is so far fetched or not.

If this continues we will be facing a real civil war, and although I know there are those of us who believe that this is the only solution to our problem, I put this to you, it’s easier to destroy then to build, and with the destruction we only put ourselves back 18 years at the very least … and we will be spitting on the graves of those who have died in the last 18 years, we will be robbing future generations of hope, we will leave behind a legacy which I would rather not be part of.

I implore you, the reader, to get actively involved, to put aside your personal feelings of hate and mistrust and to try and work together, if not for you, but for your children, and their children.

The whole World is waiting like vultures, for the spoils of war, so let’s not give them the satisfaction of failing, let’s work together and fix this.