The struggle continues for the hungry in South Africa

URBAN SPRAWL NEGATIVES: The gap between the rich and poor in South Africa is growing. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency/ANA

Once again the election season is upon us. Voting for the government of their choice is what the majority of South Africans were denied for centuries by foreign forces which came, conquered and colonised this part of the continent. Since the arrival of the first group of the so-called explorers from the West in the 15th century, the indigenous people of this land were involved in battles with those who had come to this country to deprive them of it and its riches.

Early in the 20th century the disenfranchised decided to embark on an organized way of demanding equal rights for all who live in this land by, among other things, forming the African Native Congress and other organisations. Yet, all their pleas fell on deaf ears until some decided to engage in armed struggle and others just disappeared from the face of the earth.

In the quest for political freedom hundreds of disenfranchised South Africans were murdered and thousands displaced by the marauding gangs of land grabbers who came all the way from Europe and took the land through the barrel of a gun. Fast forward, in the sixties, many leaders who were in the forefront of fighting for people to have rights in their own motherland were incarcerated, some banished and others exiled.

When 1994 came, the majority of South Africans rejoiced now that the right to vote for the government of one’s choice was finally extended to all citizens of the Republic of South Africa. Little did we know what this meant in broader terms. South Africans overwhelmingly elected the African National Congress into power. People had the trust that the ANC would deliver them from bondage and indeed, the ANC has made strides not only in improving the lives of the poor but also the lives of the rich.

That being said, there is always room for the ANC to do more and by nature, the more one gives, the more the beneficiary demands; hence the daily service delivery protests. However, the route being taken by the Peoples’ Organization needs to be put under a microscope. The revelations that are coming up from the various commissions are shocking, to say the least. How come do some of our leaders get implicated in such activities whose main aim is to defraud the state that is supposed to look after the poor?

How come do some of our leaders get implicated in looting banks that are an attempt by the poor to uplift their economic status? How come do the state owned enterprises crumble the way Eskom is falling apart? SAA, DENEL – you name them. Looting, looting and looting right through. Executives who are alleged to be corrupt and giving themselves are removed only to be replaced by others who continue with the exorbitant salaries or even increased ones. As salaries of these “clean” Executives grow by the day, so are the numbers of people who get retrenched from these parastatals solely to save money to pay the Executives higher and higher.

Some of these Executives are earning almost double the Head of State earns. If it is said that the CEO of SAA or Eskom, for example is earning what he or she is earning because the entity is making profit, what profit do our parastatals make?

Even if they make profit, is that profit not meant to benefit the people? It is now clear that the reason our parliamentarians regard the call for the abolition of labour brokers as nonsense is because they benefit heavily from the system.

Some have their homes fortified with all sorts of security detail ranging from surveillance cameras to electric fencing by these companies that tender for the outsourcing of services by the government. It still rings vividly when one of our leaders said, “I did not struggle to be poor.” The other one instead of addressing genuine concerns of the people said, “the ANC does not care about the dirty votes.” The other one was once said to have bought a R4m house in order to demolish it and build a R16m one instead. Whither South Africa?

This is a clarion call for our beloved political leaders to take a conscious decision to rid themselves of all negative elements that are doing a great damage to the country’s reputation. The people love the ANC, but the ANC must stop taking for granted the people’s love for it. The decision by the ANC government to impose the IPPs on Eskom is going to cost the ANC dearly. If the issue of IPPs was really about clean energy, Eskom must be allowed to produce such energy for the people of South Africa cheaper than these Independent Power Producers.

South Africans, be warned, in less than a decade from the full implementation of this IPP thing, access to electricity will be for the chosen few – those who have bigger pockets – hence the haste to accumulate wealth by some. Make no mistake-this is not fear for industrial revolution.

This is a call for the ANC to take the electorate along as they move the country forward. The so-called unbundling of Eskom, especially without taking all stakeholders along, is going to cost the ANC dearly.  The unemployed are growing by millions and the majority thereof are fast becoming the young people. This is a recipe for disaster. “An empty stomach knows no law.” In the quote above, Lenin implores that governments must create jobs, create jobs and create more jobs as the population grows. The only time this is when there is no population growth – which is almost impossible. 

The struggle continues – “No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses.” – Vladimir Lenin

David Sipunzi is the General Secretary of The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).