Sunday, December 08, 2013

Mandela's Promises Broken

While Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel cry crocodile tears for Mandela’s passing they will conveniently turn a deaf ear to many of his observations.

“Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times -- times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation -- that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.” -- Mandela during a 2005 speech on global poverty at London's Trafalgar Square

It is a pity that Mandela and the ANC failed to address the poverty problem and inequality remains South Africa’s greatest issue.

White South Africans, who account for 8.7 percent of the population of 53 million, on average earn six times more than their black counterparts and still have access to better education, medical care and housing. Just 8.3 per cent of blacks over the age of 20 had some post-secondary education in 2011, compared with 37 percent of whites.  The Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has risen to 0.63 in 2009 from 0.59 in 1993, making South Africa one of the world’s most unequal societies. Unemployment is around 26%. according to official figures  but is much higher.  Youth unemployment exceeds 50%. About 80% of unemployed young people never worked or had jobs longer than a year.

During the first decade of ANC rule, around two million South Africans lost homes. Another one million lost farms. Shack dwelling increased 50%.  One-fourth or more of South Africans have no running water or electricity. Around 40% of schools have no electricity.  About 50% of South Africans have inadequate sanitation. Around 40% have no telephones.

HIV/AIDS remains a major problem. South Africa has the world's largest number of affected people. Officially it's over five million. It's more than in North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia combined.

Post-apartheid, life expectancy declined by 13 years. In 2011, it was 58, according to the World Health Organization.

Mandela could have made a difference. He could have fought honestly for a genuine socialist society. He chose instead the policies of the IMF and neo-liberalism. He relegated millions of black South Africans to permanent destitution, unemployment, hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, lost futures and early deaths. Accommodation with capitalism trumped the 1955 ANC's Freedom Charterthat declared "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people." and that  "The people shall share in the country's wealth!"  and "The land shall be shared among those who work it!"

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