The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma said the country is better than ever before. He quoted the progress made over the last 20 years since the first democratic election in 1994. There is national pride, respect and tolerance among the people of the country. He quoted people referring to the ‘good old days’ under apartheid as better than now and strongly disagreed with this sentiment.
Proudly he told his audience that South Africa had the largest social welfare net in the world and said there was a significant increase from 2.4 million people receiving grants to 16 million. Zuma said the registered taxpayers in the country increased by 12 million, which essentially means the collection of taxes is a boost for government structure.
Zuma stressed on the improvement of education and the potential for young people to attend university, and the vast number of children registered to partake in the education process. The matric result increase over the years was highlighted. Staying on the education system, he referred to the failing situation that created more unemployment due to skilled training lagging behind and the system failing the young people.
Zuma said that as the African National Congress (ANC) was the ruling party during these transformation years, the credit for the vast improvement goes to his party.
He said the party accepts the responsibility for the failing sectors and referred to the health system, which failed the poor people around the country. Zuma said the corruption is the most significant barrier to the growth of the country. Crime according to Zuma remained unacceptably high.
Tackling the crime, corruption, health and education problems is a serious matter for the present government and although Zuma said the ANC is responsible for the lack of control, how would the ANC change this? The ANC lost control of these pressing problems years ago and the fact that the escalation of crime, corruption and failure of service deliveries shows no path for improvement is a worrying factor.
In most democratic countries, power changes in government happen occasionally, and this has not been so in South Africa. With the general elections drawing closer and the political parties scrumming for votes, there might well be the much-needed change for the country. The citizens of the country cannot ignore the facts of the current failing issues and will have the right to elect a positive or negative change by voting.
The people must consider the problems not solved by the current government and the power of opposition parties to fix the problems. Their vote is powerful, and it is all in the hands of the citizens to choose a future plan for South Africa.
The 1994 elections were a time for all South Africans to vote for equal opportunities, democracy and freedom from oppression. Hammering on apartheid is a favorite theme for the ANC when their governance fails. This is a weakness and the ANC look upon the last 20 years of governance as the first steps to correcting the wrongs of more than 300 years of damage caused by the white governments and apartheid.
The road to transformation is a difficult path and overcoming all the past injustices will remain a challenge for the ANC or any other party if they are elected into power. The ANC is aware of the past mistakes and their failures during the first 20 years of democracy.
Overcoming the past mistakes and failures of the last 20 years will be the greatest challenge for any new government control and not the apartheid problems. Apartheid is gone, it will not return, and that is a fact. Why people still acknowledge that all the current problems stem from apartheid is an exhibition of weakness and easy way out of explaining their failures.
Undoing the wrongs of the past 20 years is a giant step of any new political party to undertake and that alone could take more than five years to complete. It is a radical overhaul of the current government and the corruption the ANC are tarnished with that remains the most challenging.
The ANC if elected again in the upcoming elections will have a hard time ensuring that their promises are kept. The people want change and radical changes are needed. The service deliveries, crime, and corruption will not disappear. A true and empowering group of dedicated people must ensure there are changes for all South Africans to benefit from.
While Zuma emphasizes that South Africa is better today than 20 years ago, he still needs to prove to the majority of the people exactly how much the country has improved. The current situation is tense as people gear up for the radical change to empower and raise their living conditions from squalor to decent.
Zuma said South Africa is a better country now than it has ever been. Zuma should see the squatter camps springing up all over the land, and take cognizance of the farm murders before he claims credit of a better South Africa.
The ramblings of Zuma of how bright the future will be under the ANC government is nothing more than another election proposal that will result in another five years of corruption, crime and services deliveries plummeting out of total control.
Opinion by Laura Oneale