Durban, South Africa: These are not the best of times in South Africa. It seems clear that there is fear and loathing everywhere as the press is packed with fresh allegations of corruption, and a restive mood spreads even as the country prepares to host the economic Summit of the BRICS countries it is part of–Brazil, Russia, India, and China which is facing a growth in joblessness and economic/political malaise.
Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, the brilliant Mozambican leader who married the man everyone here calls by his clan name Madiba, is speaking out even as her husband Nelson Mandela no longer can because of age and infirmity.
She calls South Africa an “angry nation… on the brink of ‘something very dangerous’. She was speaking at a memorial for a Mozambican cab driver whose killing by the police was caught on a cellphone camera and went viral. The police deny they were brutal, despite the video, which further outrages a country that seems to be increasingly turning on the politicians they see as plundering its resources.
Machel minced no words, saying South Africa is a society “bleeding and breathing pain” and he warned against “deeper trouble from the past that has not been addressed.”
That “deeper trouble” evoked the compromise negotiated settlement that won political power for the ANC through elections in the early 90′s, but kept economic power in the hands of a mostly white elite dominated by big business, the “mining energy complex.” Economist Sampie Terrablanche tells that story of an imposed neoliberalism lobbied for by multinationals, international financial institutions and foreign governments like the U.S. and U.K. in his book, “Lost in Transformation.”
There are many critical voices. Steve Biko’s one-time close comrade, Mamphela Ramphele, a doctor turned banker, poverty expert and businesswoman, has launched a new political party Agagng (Sesotho for “build”) to challenge the ANC. While her base lacks the ANC’s deep roots in the black community, her analysis resonates with many,
Her statement aimed to “rekindle The South African Dream” writing “the country of our dreams has unfortunately faded… The dream has faded for many living in poverty and destitution.”
It was a lyrical all to memory and militancy asking,
“Do you remember our patience and quiet dignity as we waited in long queues to cast our very first votes as citizens of a free South Africa? Do you remember how you choked with emotion and had goose bumps as you made your very first cross on the ballot? Do you remember the tears of joy and relief when we watched our first President, Rolihlahla Mandela, being honoured with a fly-past by the air-force that was to have its first democratically elected commander in chief? …..
Do you remember the dream we embraced to build ours into a great society – a prosperous constitutional democracy united in its diversity?”
She lashed out a corruption but the media gave her new initiative little chance of succeeding, Other parties, upset that she didn’t embrace them remained distant, even as it prompted other leaders like Mangosuthu Buthelezi …read more