... but let us guard it and deepen it

CityPress - - Voices -

Yes, we have our po­lit­i­cal free­dom, but this can­not mask the re­al­ity of poverty, sky-high unem­ploy­ment and vast in­equal­ity. Too many peo­ple still live in de­hu­man­is­ing con­di­tions af­ter 23 years in a “free” South Africa.

With unem­ploy­ment lev­els of close to 40%, es­pe­cially among young peo­ple, so­cioe­co­nomic con­di­tions are es­pe­cially grim.

This is why the ground is fer­tile for dem­a­gogues and char­la­tans who prom­ise quick fix so­lu­tions – be they politi­cians, con men or fake pas­tors.

Eco­nomic in­equal­ity is fur­ther accentuated by its racial un­der­pin­nings as most white peo­ple are still much bet­ter off than black peo­ple, many of whom live in in­for­mal set­tle­ments and whose chil­dren do not have the op­por­tu­nity to go to good schools. The sick are also forced to put up with long queues and poor ser­vice at health fa­cil­i­ties. The bet­ter-off are able to opt for pri­vate care.

Our eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion is un­likely to im­prove in the fore­see­able fu­ture. The weak and cor­rupt lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has led to South Africa be­ing down­graded to junk sta­tus. The full ef­fect of this has yet to be felt, but the prospects of any sub­stan­tive eco­nomic growth have been dimmed and will fur­ther hurt the poor.

The cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion is the worst since the birth of our democ­racy. Not only has Zuma used the pub­lic purse for his own ben­e­fit, he has ac­tively helped a sin­gle fam­ily cap­ture and plun­der state re­sources. He is a one-man wreck­ing ball who has dam­aged the econ­omy and the fabric of our democ­racy.

On Zuma’s watch, our free­dom has been im­per­illed – the state has been in­creas­ingly se­cu­ri­tised; there has been a move to­wards se­crecy and the politi­ci­sa­tion of the se­cu­rity ser­vices; and mili­tias loyal to the pres­i­dent pub­licly threaten his op­po­nents.

As we mark Free­dom Day, let us be conscious of the road we still have to walk and be aware of those who want to squeeze into our demo­cratic space.

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