AfricaEconomy

In the face of poverty, inequality, and an impending election, South Africa will commemorate 30 years of independence.

Following years of white minority rule that denied black people the right to vote, Kunene braved long lines on April 27, 1994, to participate in the nation’s first democratic elections at this school.

The nation is getting ready to celebrate 30 years of democracy and freedom on Saturday. But with so many obstacles facing Africa’s most developed economy, the fervour and hope of that era have mostly faded.

Kunene’s school has changed, as have many things in South Africa; what was once a school hall is now divided into multiple classrooms.

In reference to Nelson Mandela becoming the nation’s first black president and the adoption of a new constitution guaranteeing all South Africans equal rights and doing away with the apartheid system of racial discrimination, Kunene said, “I somehow wish we could go back to that day, because of how excited I was and the things that happened thereafter.”

Apartheid is still deeply ingrained in the collective consciousness of individuals who lived through those years.

“I will never forget the suffering we endured at the hands of White people. This is a description of a mohawk-like hairdo worn by white bikers in the city at night. These bikers would viciously attack a black person they saw walking on a pavement. Lily Makhanya, 87, whose late husband passed away while employed in the underground anti-apartheid organisation, said of the white youths, “They were cruel.”

“They would attack you so severely and leave you for dead if they saw you walking on the pavement.”

Makhanya and many others who lined up to vote in 1994 saw it as a momentous occasion that marked the end of an oppressive past and the beginning of a flourishing future.

But in the face of the nation’s urgent problems, thirty years later, most of that optimism has vanished. Among these are growing disparities as the majority of Black Americans continue to live in poverty while the nation has the highest jobless rate in the world at over 32%.

Over 16 million South Africans, according to official data, depend on monthly welfare assistance to survive.

Public demonstrations have become common as communities protest against the ruling African National Congress’ failure to deliver job opportunities and basic services like water and electricity.

An electricity crisis that has resulted in power blackouts that are devastating the country’s economy added to the party’s woes as businesses and homes are sometimes forced to go without electricity for up to 12 hours a day. But in the face of the nation’s urgent problems, thirty years later, most of that optimism has vanished. Among these are growing disparities as the majority of Black Americans continue to live in poverty while the nation has the highest jobless rate in the world at over 32%. Over 16 million South Africans, according to official data, depend on monthly welfare assistance to survive.

Locations such as the posh Johannesburg district of Sandton, with its stunning buildings and opulent residences, serve as an illustration of the economic prosperity that only a small portion of the 60 million people living there can truly enjoy.

However, the township of Alexandra, which is a few miles (kilometres) from Sandton, is a stark representation of the living conditions of the impoverished black majority of the nation, with uncollected trash piling up on pavements and sewage from broken pipes flowing on the streets.

These inconsistencies are prevalent in all of the major cities, including Cape Town and the nation’s capital, Pretoria, and they will likely be at the heart of one of the most hotly contested elections in May. Polls suggest that, for the first time since the ANC took office in 1994, the party may earn less than 50% of the national vote. Should this happen, the party would be forced to cede power unless it could unite with a few smaller parties to form a coalition.

Some younger voters do not find the nostalgia appealing, such as Donald Mkhwanazi, who is 24 years old. Mkhwanazi is currently actively campaigning for Rise Mzansi, a new political party that will be running in a national election for the first time. She will cast her first ballot in the election on May 29. “I was not convinced enough by any of these established parties to cast a ballot, even though I had the chance to vote in local elections in 2021 and 2019,” the man stated.

“I didn’t see the need to vote because of what has been happening over the past 30 years. We talk about freedom, but are we free from crime? Are we free from poverty? What freedom is this that we are talking about?” Political analyst Pearl Mncube said South Africans are justified in feeling failed by their leaders.

“More and more South Africans have grown sceptical of pronouncements from the government due to its history of continuously announcing grand plans without prioritising the swift execution of said plans,” Mncube said.

She said while Freedom Day is meant to signify the country’s transition from an oppressive past, it was important to highlight current problems and plans to overcome them. “We cannot use the past, and any nostalgia attached to it, to avoid accounting for the present,” she said.

Related posts
AfricaCulture

What Is Africa Day And Why Is It Important

Africa Day, celebrated annually on May 25th, commemorates the founding of the Organization of…
Read more
AfricaHealth

What’s fueling the deadly cholera outbreak in Southern Africa

The deadly cholera outbreak currently ravaging Southern Africa is fueled by a combination of…
Read more
AfricaEconomy

Zimbabwe's newly introduced gold backed currency

In a significant move to stabilize its economy, Zimbabwe recently introduced a new currency, the…
Read more

Sign up for Africa Insider’s Daily Digest and get the best of  news, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

AfricaPolitics

Leading Africans advocate for a novel strategy to combat terrorism.

Worth reading...