Regular readers of this column, and more particularly the comments that follow the column, cannot have failed to notice the recurring leitmotiv of colonial oppression offered by some of my critics as an excuse for the perpetual non performance of South Africa, both as a democracy and as an economic powerhouse. Blaming the legacy of apartheid/colonialism is also a favourite ploy of politicians who, after stuffing their pockets with tax payer's money and buying a couple of luxury cars, have to think up some explanation to deliver to their constituents for being so damn useless at their jobs.
I realise that this week's column may come across as hugely insensitive to some readers but think of it as tough love. Somebody needs to man up and acknowledge the truth. To listen to some black South Africans and white lefties drone on you would think that this country was the first in the history of the world ever to experience subjugation by another race. And therein lies the major obstacle to South Africa's progress.
Every failure of the ANC is blamed on our dreadful apartheid past. That may have rung true in 1996 but in 2012 it's beginning to sound a bit lame. While there are many black South Africans who remember the injustices and indignities of the apartheid era there are an increasing number who haven't a clue what life was like under the Nats. And yet the same tired old excuse for non performance is trotted out with monotonous regularity, partly to make whiteys feel guilty but mostly to cover up the scandalous lack of delivery on the part of the ANC.
Thanks to the ruling party the country has developed a national inferiority complex which dooms us to a future of mediocrity. Instead of weighing up the account in 1994 and telling the electorate that the new democratic South Africa had survived apartheid and come out with a vigorous free press, an independent judiciary and a clutch of parastatals which did what they supposed to do pretty well, the ANC played down the more positive legacies of apartheid because they knew they would need someone or something to blame should things go wrong. And boy, do they milk it for all it's worth.
The current disastrous education system, for example, is blamed on the legacy of apartheid. A convenient excuse but utter baloney. The reason our education system is a global joke is that the ANC tinkered around with all sorts of social engineering designed to give kids the impression they were doing well at school, even when they weren't.
The harsh reality is that the majority of kids in the state school system end their schooldays ill equipped for either university or for the workplace. They will only find that out though when they have been screwed over by the system and finished their schooling. The 85% matric pass rate that the government may brag about will not translate into a job. But, of course, that's not the fault of the ANC....it's the fault of the legacy of apartheid.
So how come other oppressed people manage to get over life's obstacles and we don't? For example, the Asians that were kicked out of Uganda by that madman Idi Amin back in the 1970's. My late mother was one of many volunteers to go to RAF Stradishall in Suffolk where the refugees landed and help them settle into a new life. They had only the clothes they wore and had not been allowed to take any personal possessions and yet they saw their expulsion from Uganda as an opportunity to begin again. I clearly remember my mother's amazement at their lack of self pity. The majority of those expelled Asians, many of them highly educated professionals, went on to do very well in their new adopted country.
The answer to the question of why we just can't move on is that blaming our past has turned into a lucrative industry in itself. It has spawned the obscene BBBEE system which guarantees economic inefficiencies and corruption while pretending to redress the wrongs of the past. The plan to lay a heavy guilt trip on those who were deemed to have befitted from apartheid has meant that the goose that lays the golden egg continues laying.
By keeping guilt ridden whites in harness the government achieves several objectives. Firstly, nobody dares speak out against the absurdities of the system for fear of being labelled racist. Secondly, successful companies can only get their BBBEE ratings by creating completely superfluous positions based on demographic requirements while ignoring economies of scale. This gives the impression that the government has created jobs for people when all it has done is to flout economic good sense. Thirdly, the tax system benefits because more taxpayers and consumers are artificially created. This may sound like a smart idea but the creation of so many non-jobs just to please a commie dominated government is bound to make us less efficient than our global competitors. All we are doing is fooling ourselves that we are productive and impoverishing ourselves in the long term.
The vast majority of the population have been indoctrinated and believe that everything that goes wrong is the fault of our apartheid past, because that's what they've been told. As a result, very few ANC supporters can see any reason to take responsibility for their own lives and strive for success.
The reality is that that the majority of people don't excel in life but simply trundle along. But what about those who really could become shining examples to others and important community leaders? Does our current system encourage them to reach their full potential or does is constantly drive home the message that they're bound to fail? But that's OK because it's not their fault. It's the fault of apartheid.
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