This other day I got into a taxi with Zimbabwean nationals. They were talking about my country SA, its politics, economy and society. I love talking but that day I just sat there and listened to what they had to say.
They spoke about how much we are fixated on race and this they also admitted is the same in Zimbabwe. That in SA it is hard to talk freely about other races, it’s hard to talk about this country’s apartheid past. Once you do that you’re label a racist, someone who is stuck in the past and who should move on. We often forget that our past shapes us and for us to move on we should talk openly about it.
They made me realise things I never thought of before. We South Africans have become spoiled brats. We complain about everything, it’s always government this and the government that. We always talk about what the government is not doing and little about what the government is doing. As compared to other African governments, they said we have the best. Yet the noise we are making will never allow us to realize that.
We have focused more on rights and paid little attention to the responsibilities they come with. We often make noise about how our education system is failing the youth and demand improvement from government. Yet we never visited a single school and helped out, we never donated books or uniform. When Matric pass rates improve, we water down those statistics simply because we are focused on the negative.
We talk as if our country is the worst in the world and choose to ignore facts. According to the World’s Competitive Report 2012/13 we are ranked 52nd out of 144 world’s economies. Making us the highest ranked country in Sub-Saharan Africa and third amongst the BRICS economies. A reason why Africans think South Africa is a land of possibilities yet we, its citizens see nothing good about it.
When comparing our living standards, they say we have everything. We have a government that provides housing and electricity to its people freely. Since 1994, the SA government through its constitution has delivered a lot. Expanding access education with millions of South African learners in no free schools and financial assistance when they get to varsity. They praised our health system, anyone can go to clinic or hospital and get free medical assistance. But we often debate about how the government has failed us.
They also noted how this country went from being a “Beetroot HIV fighting” nation to a country now hailed the best in the world for its HIV&Aids treatment which has raised our life expectancy from 48 to 60years in just 7 years.
They also talked about our Media, saying most journalists in the world hailed South Africa for its constitution that protects the Media. However, the Media has also lost its compass. It’s hard in these days to read a good story. The Media has now doesn’t report but it advocates.
One said it has become a Newsletter for the opposition. That the few positive reports we see about the government are often watered down with few paragraphs with the message ending up as negative. Very often South African leaders are mistranslated just to sell the newspapers.
We have become an insulting and attacking nation simply because we say we have “freedom of expression”. We often use this right to defend ourselves when those we attack speak out.
We’re a nation with hailed labour laws that protect citizens from being exploited. Yet we use the same laws to scare away those who give us jobs. When we use our right to strike, we go to war with the employer and the state. We go to strike and put the economy set to create the much needed jobs on hold. We go to strike and leave learners stranded in classrooms with no teachers.
We talk about unemployment yet we do anything about it. In the townships we chase away who create jobs for themselves accusing them of stealing them from us.
We simply do all of these things because we know we can get away with them. We are free, we have rights, we live in a democracy. We talk too much about our challenges and do nothing to change them.
When I finally interjected with “but guys, don’t you think we South Africans are tired with all this corruption going on, poor service delivery, poor implementation of policies and poor creation of jobs”.
They said I must look around me, that our country is a refuge centre for people coming from other African countries and the rest of the world. That the challenges we face are not uniquely South African, they did not come with the ANC and they will not be fought and won by the DA.
That the kind of corruption we have in our country cuts across all countries. That the good thing about our country is the fact that we have independent institutions that are mandated to protect us. That our judiciary is still independent and still protects us citizens and other countries don’t have that.
They said when national challenges come, we take sides and point fingers. When we disagree with someone,we attack, insult and undermine that person’s intelligence.
One of them said our fixed opinions about the state and its government will be “the death of us”.
It was good to just listen to other people talking about my country and I wish we could change if we really are like that.
On twitter its: @comradeEsethu lets lead