The Star Late Edition
Ask Zim people what they’d prefer
YOUR correspondent Luther Lebelo made many valid points concerning the lack of societal transformation and the general lack of improvement in the lives of black South Africans (The Star Letters, December 23).
It’s clear to most perceptive South Africans that although the face of African townships has changed dramatically for the better since 1994, the disparities are still enormous, and if sufficient effort is not employed to radically upgrade the lives of the struggling masses, we are heading for a calamitous and explosive future.
Mr Lebelo ascribed most of the problem to our world-class constitution, and in a similar vein, in the same issue of The Star, Mfundui Vundla (The Star Opinion and Analysis, December 23) made some equally strong points, pointing at many failings of our negotiated political settlement for the ongoing malaise.
I found Mr Vundla’s article to be the more balanced of the two though, as he was generous enough to also concede the many failings of the African intelligentsia in the problems confronting us today.
He mentioned the lunacy of the post-1994 administrations which deprived our people of skills training by foolishly closing teacher, artisan and nursing training colleges.
Mr Vundla’s article was by no means the typical all-negative refrain that we see so often in the media. He ended his piece with some plausible suggestions on how inequality in the workplace could be addressed by offering companies incentives to transform and retain valuable African graduates in their employ.
This is the spirit that will make our country truly world class. We need inspirational solutions in the national dis- course and not negative diatribes heavily tainted with unsubstantiated accusations.
There is a dangerous trend in the townships to point fingers at our constitution and the SA judiciary as the root cause of all our current ills.
In a recent radio interview former chief justice Arthur Chaskalson expertly dismissed the bunkum that our constitution is friendlier to criminals than to law-abiding citizens.
He pointed out that the people hostile to tenets of the constitution never actually say what it is that favours criminality. In fact nothing in the constitution is beneficial to criminals. If they are guilty of a crime, and they are caught, they are sent to prison.
What this precious document does is protect individual rights, so if in the event you or a member of your family are detained by police officers, perhaps without justification, an innocent person’s rights will be protected by those constitutional safeguards.
In like-minded vein, there is nothing in the constitution that says land cannot be acquired for redistribution, but only a fool would want to collapse the country’s infrastructure with mass land grabs.
Cool heads and intelligent planning are needed to redress past injustices.
I get just as furious as Mr Luther Lebelo when I see that only 4 percent of land has been transferred back to indigenous South Africans, and when parties like the DA and Afriforum bleat at every attempt to restore African place names in an African country.
There are many holes in his assertions, though, and a blinkered approach will not take us forward. The political settlement was forged to halt many more years of needless deaths, and heaven forbid, an eventual Rwandan-type racial genocide.
The constitution was not edited solely by white colonialists, but equally in association with all the major black political parties who fought long and hard to wring many demo- cratic concessions from the former regime and other white political entities.
Those protections that were multilaterally agreed to were to ensure that never again would South Africans have to endure the state brutality of police repression, and to dismantle the gallows at Pretoria Central Prison “legally”.
Even President Jacob Zuma has unwisely made veiled accusations at the judiciary, accusing them of usurping the powers of elected political leaders.
Such commentary smacks of political immaturity.
In our wonderful constitutional democracy, even the president is not above the lofty ideals of the constitution.
South Africans who disagree with having a constitution that protects the greater good instead of sectional rights should ask Zimbabweans what they think, and if they would want to swop systems.