What kind of country makes its citizens queue like beggars for a measly R350?
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With signs of some decisive leadership decisions taken by the government in the past week around airlines and energy, and with the South African economy growing by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2021, one is not quite sure whether the glass is half full or half empty in South Africa on this June Monday morning.
While Statistics SA informs us that eight out of 10 major industries made positive gains in the same period, it must be understood that any growth is currently off an extremely low base. South African economic activity shrank by 7% in 2020, compared with 2019.
StatsSA further reports that this is the biggest annual fall in economic activity the country has seen since at least 1946.
With June 16, our national Youth Day, being celebrated this week, it is important to understand that, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) of the first quarter of 2021, young people in South Africa aged 15 to 34 are suffering under an unemployment rate of 46.3%.
They report that nearly one in every two young people in the labour force did not have a job in the first quarter of 2021. In a country of 58 million people, 7.2 million individuals are unemployed.
The Zondo Commission heard evidence that the Gupta clan was responsible for the theft of about R46 billion.
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounts to several billions annually and the auditor-general reported that in the education and health sectors in 2020 there was R116 million in contracts awarded to companies in which government officials had a stake.
All this data points to the inadequate capabilities of our politicians, legislators and public servants.
At several levels of government, we run the risk of catastrophic service delivery failure which will invariably point to some titanic corruption.
All this corruption and incompetence take place while citizens had to endure the painful experience of queueing in the glaring sun and pouring rain (and water cannon hosing for R350 grants over the last 12 months).
What kind of country makes its citizens queue like beggars for a measly R350 while its governors are either incapable of stopping the theft of billions of rand or at worst, are complicit in that theft?
Every fiery revolution or orderly change begins with one thing – the awareness that things don’t have to be like this.
Our first awareness must be that we do not need to keep voting for romanticised liberators.
We need respectable, adequately qualified legislators and we need resilient public servants who have the necessary qualifications and competencies to lead the nation-building project.
We have reached the end of our tolerance with cadres who, over the past 27 years, have increased our unemployment rate, worsened our poverty, corrupted our state-owned enterprises and brought our infrastructure in virtually every city, town and dorpie to its knees.
They drive around in luxury vehicles and we are entertained on social media with their lifestyle escapades while we cannot get toilets built at schools.
As a nation we should have no interest in the Minister of Transport’s Twitter quizzes, asking citizens to recognise pictures of towns and bridges while thousands of citizens are killed each year on our roads and taxi wars are continuing unabated across South Africa.
We should not be returning people to office who have neglected our sewerage and sanitation systems and who hound our 12.5 million homeless people when they try to erect a shelter of protection for themselves and their loved ones.
How do we fix this country? We fix it by making several important decisions.
One of those important decisions is who you – the voter – choose to return to office in October 2021.
Look for those who can do two things at the same time: fix the broken things in our country and build a just, safe, inclusive, equitable and prosperous country for all.
* Lorenzo A Davids.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.