After 23 years of democracy, can we say we have achieved a better life for all?

On 9 May 1994 Mr Mandela in his inauguration speech in Cape Town said, “Democracy is based on the majority principle. This is especially true in a country such as ours where the vast majority have been systematically denied their rights at the same time; democracy also requires that the rights of political and other minorities be safeguarded.”

In a country that was oppressed for over 300 years people are still scared of the oppressor and they really don’t know what democracy means. Everyone cheered when we had to vote as black South Africans for the first time in 1994 not knowing what tomorrow will bring. It has been 23 years since we have been a democratic country yet only a few things have changed. We find ourselves still answering to the same master.

The people of South Africa have been oppressed for a long time that they are willing to live in a country that only a minority enjoy democracy than fight for their rights. When our first black president gave his first speech as a president he promised people a “better life for all” and that the ruling government will try to close the gap between the poor and the rich by empowering people with skills and better paying jobs.

It has been 23 years since that speech and we still see a huge gap between the poor and the rich. We see people who have all the qualifications but no employment. The poor are still struggling to fit in the current economy while their children don’t have tertiary education because of financial reasons. In a country that is supposed to be a democratic country we still find ourselves being unequal where the white people still demand respect and the other races are seen as slaves and criminals.

How was the poor affected?

In 1994 the ruling government promised people free houses under the project Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) which was to cater for people who were homeless, unemployed or earning less than a minimum wage. We have seen this RDP process turn into business over night with people who are in power benefiting from the tender processes of building the houses and some selling those houses. There have been reports showing that most of the houses have poor planning structure and most of the house used the apartheid building plans, while there is a waiting list of people who have registered for RDP houses since 1996 and they are still waiting today.

 In January 2001 the government then opened an organisation that was supposed to help young people who were interested in business with start-up capital and create jobs. That organisation turned up to be a money scheme with the senior employees taking money into their own pockets with no accountability and leaving the vulnerable youth in the cold.

The government introduced the new passing percentage (30%) in all the national high schools which is low and does not allow the leaner to get into university. According to the government this percentage was to help leaners complete school at the right age and reduce the number of learners who are struggling academically and has been in the same grade for some time. This percentage affected the leaners that were mostly disadvantaged.

In the process of making things easy the government introduces easy ways to get grants for the SASSA beneficiaries which lead to them introducing the company called CPS on an illegal contract. CPS introduced loans to the SASSA beneficiaries without telling them about the danger of taking credit you can’t afford. CPS allows beneficiaries to take a loan every month which leads to growing interest for the initial loan.

Have we achieved a better life for all?

The truth is we are still on the road to recovery as a country after 300 years of oppression but that does not mean we too can’t be blamed. We had 23 years to try and fix things for our people and to show the world that we are capable of building a better life for everyone who is a citizen in South Africa yet we chose corruption. We have not only sold our souls to the oppressor but also given them permission to control us and convince investors not to invest in our country because of weak leadership.

One might argue that 23 years is a short period of time but looking at the money that has been wasted we can say in this 23 years we would have achieved a better life for all if we killed corruption and stuck to the goals that the first president had mentioned to us in 1994   at Cape Town.

Photo credit: SACR Gauteng Province

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