For the oppressed people of South Africa to be freed from apartheid’s legacy bondage, the ANC must be indefatigable over placing the Freedom Charter central to general policy architecture for several decades to come.
SA remains a country with two countries in one. There is a wealthy avarice white-owned part – the First World which works well within the country’s First World constitutional architecture – and the other is poor and extremely poor, resembling Third World challenges in all aspects of life.
In 1998, responding to the DP and NNP (later DA) over black people’s socio-economic challenges, then deputy president Thabo Mbeki said in parliament during a debate over national reconciliation: “We are neither impressed nor moved by self-serving arguments which seek to suggest that four or five years are long enough to remove from our national life the inheritance of a country of two nations, which is as old as the arrival of European colonists in our country, almost 350 years ago.”
Naturally, the DA contested this by locating fault effects on, amongst others, the ANC’s “one China” policy, blaming this for lack of foreign direct investment from the western nations. The DA excoriated the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which introduced pro-poor policies, such as affirmative action, free housing and expanded social grants.
The DA, instead, preferred a system of coupons where only “deserving” individuals would qualify for a social safety net. Writing in ANC Today in 2003, Mbeki developed this into a thesis of “two economies”, saying: “… of central and strategic importance is the fact that they [Third World economy – mainly Africans and coloureds] are structurally disconnected from our country’s First World [white and exclusively DA-voting] economy’’.
In his 2016 Siyanqoba Rally speech, themed “Advancing People’s Power”, President Jacob Zuma ventured back to the Mbeki thesis, calling Cape Town “a tale of two cities”: “There is a Cape Town that caters for the needs of the rich and wealthy, who are prioritised, and another which leaves the poor subserviced and underdeveloped.”
Zuma went on to quote former president Nelson Mandela, who, in 2000, said the ANC was the only party which could deliver services to the oppressed majority. Zuma made a stern demand that “the poor in Cape Town must be treated with respect and dignity”.
SA’s story is similar to that of East and West Germany when the Berlin Wall came down. One economy was First, the other Third World – West Germany in 1991, transferred $586.5 billion of public funds to East Germany towards Germany’s project of national reconciliation.
White South Africans, save for the shortlived so-called FW De Klerk’s “solidarity PAYE tax” for only 1991, have largely refused to transform the country’s economy in this unificating manner.
Through the DA, the First World economy has successfully sought to expatriate its apartheid-gotten resources abroad instead.
South Africa’s “Third World” voters will tomorrow have to decide whether they vote against or for their own economic interest, not crumbs. Gandhi said: “The worst form of violence is poverty.” Oppressed masses must decide on who works to radically stop this violence.