Statistics SA reports that the number of South Africans living below the poverty line in 2014 was 21.4% . By February 2016, there were 11.9 million recipients of child social grants and of the beneficiaries, 96% are women.
Among other things that are further crippling our ailing economy is the imminent petrol price hike set to hit all of us where it matters this week. Lest we forget, the poignant #FeesMustFall movement that gained momentum in the latter part of 2015 to highlight the impact of exorbitant tertiary education tuition, especially on previously disadvantaged individuals.
Ours is a country in a critical condition. We are at a point where we are contending with the denials of the governing party on key issues; undermining the quality of our democracy while the situation on the ground deteriorates at an alarming rate. The need for sensitivity is more pertinent than ever, especially in addressing the top-down moral decay.
For this reason, recent comments by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on the need for the native (Black) population of South Africa to “reproduce for their legacy to continue and for black people to remain dominant” were rather perturbing. Given his recent graduation from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor’s degree, one would have expected emphasis on the importance of education to be at the forefront of Malema’s stance on socio-economic freedom.
Malema’s uninformed and reckless statements only served to expose his narrow-mindedness and perhaps a lack of in-depth cognizance of domination dynamics. What could have worked in the days of Shaka Zulu isn’t necessarily applicable in this modern era. It appears that in a rare flashing moment, the EFF Commander-in-Chief forgot that the very unequal society that is South Africa has the majority of its economy in the hands of a minority. It is also ironic that challenging this is a central founding theme of the EFF. Yet one has to wonder whether asserting domination could be as simple as a matter of procreation?
When our legacy is riddled with years of disadvantage, how do we consciously continue to place ourselves and future generations at a further disadvantage? According to UNICEF, there are approximately 3.7 million orphans in South Africa. Only a small fraction of these children – the majority of whom are Black- get to be adopted or put in foster homes. Most significantly, the negligible number of Black people actually adopting orphaned and abandoned children tells all.
Malema’s comments have opened up a plethora of issues regarding the concept of legacy and how we each interpret it. It is difficult to fathom how our desperation to level inequities inherent in our society for centuries can lead us to seek to apply two minute solutions that will contribute to our own detriment in the long run. It appears the need to eliminate at all costs what we deem to be foreign and malignant domination continues to divert attention from the internal development work that should serve as preparation for meaningful and sustainable change.
We cannot begin to speak about increasing an entire population for the mere sake of "domination" when we aren't even capable of taking care of the generation that exists already. This so-called domination depends on the systematic address of pertinent social ills. Until we secure a solid legacy both on the social and economic fronts for future generations, our impassioned speeches and romanticized notion of an empowered Black peoples will remain a pipe dream.
Image credit: economicfreedonfighters.org