By Cameron Modisane , Saturday, October 19, 2013
We as black Africans have dreams like any other person. But sadly, achieving my own dreams will mean nothing if other young black Africans around me are still yet to taste the fruits of living in a democratic state post-1994. My challenge in SA is that we have too many critical bystanders who will throw stones at any problem that we are faced with then carry on with their middle class and luxury lives. I am one of those people who constantly lament the current state and living conditions of the African black majority in South Africa.
Background About Me
I am a young black professional who is working as an audit manager. I have had the privilege of working for one of the biggest multinational Accounting and Auditing (one of the “Big 4” audit) firms in the world. I have since moved on and now contributing to the supreme audit institution (SAI) of South Africa. I am a registered member of professional bodies and also had the privilege to attain 3 degrees including a Master of Commerce degree. It is important that I mention this to provide context to my argument.
Current State of Young Black Africans
Young black Africans still remain the largest population group that is unemployed. Over 70% of the total unemployment population is young people between the ages of 16 to 35 years. When I go back to the township and interact with some of my peers that I grew up with it is rather tragic to note that some of them have never worked for a single day in their lives. Some of them even ask me to “hook them up” with job opportunities. I often feel helpless as I understand that they are simply victims of circumstances and a system in South Africa. These are some of my childhood friends that I grew up with who have not realized the benefits of a democratic country:
· Bantsi: He is 25 years old and failed matric then went to an FET College to further his education but has not been formally employed.
· Gontse: He is 26 years old; he completed his matric has not been formally employed; he is still trying to upgrade his matric results.
· Sifiso: He is 24 years old; he completed his matric and now a casual blue collar worker with a salary below R5000 per month.
Freedom to an ordinary young person in any township has not delivered what was promised to them. The right to cast your vote every 5 years is not freedom at all if you are not empowered economically. The current state of our politics agitated me to say enough is enough. I want to make a difference as a young person in my own small way.
The media likes reminding us that the Commander in Chief Julius Malema while he was still president of the ANCYL was getting a salary of R30 000 per month which didn’t justify his life of opulence which he was living. I as young person in my mid-twenties make well over that R30 000 which was touted around, sadly that is not the case with most young black Africans. I appreciate that I am an exception and not the norm. The majority of them have never even received a R3000 salary per month. I can also make a choice to sit back continue with my life as I have a comfortable job and my life is going relatively fine and be an arm chair critic of the current government. But my conscience just doesn’t allow me go to bed every night will a full stomach while many black Africans wonder where their next meal will come from. That is the reality for most black Africans.
Current Economic Status of Black Africans
According to Statistic SA Income and Expenditure Survey (IES) 2010/2011 the average for households headed by black Africans was R55 920, per annum and white-headed households had an average of R314 524. Only 16% of the equity on the JSE is in black Africans hands while less than 30% of black Africans hold positions at executive levels in corporate SA as white male still dominate in the economic sphere. White people decided to take 80% of fertile land while constituting 5% of the population and confined black Africans (95% of population) to 20% of land which is unfertile and not conducive for agriculture. All this translated means that when wealth is passed over to the next generation our black African children will inherit four roomed “matchbox” houses and the substandard RDPs while the white child will inherit fertile farms, real estate, share options, bonds and companies including family businesses.
A report published by the SA Institute of Race Relations in August this year has found “glaring racial inequalities” between the earnings of black and white workers. It found that the average individual monthly earnings of white people were four times higher than that of black-Africans. The level of relative poverty for black-Africans sits at 42 percent while that for whites is just one percent. This clearly shows that black Africans are still the face of poverty in South Africa and there hasn’t been much transformation under the current dispensation of a black led government post 1994.
The Land Question in South Africa
We have been fed with this “rainbow-nation” myth which does not exist in reality. Reconciliation in South Africa has meant nothing but black people `forgiving’ whites for 300+ years of dispossession, humiliation and suffering. There can never be true reconciliation unless the land question is addressed. The department of Rural Development and Land Reform released an audit report of the Registered State Land in September 2013. The audit results showed that private individuals, foreigners, companies and trusts own close to 80 percent of South African land. Government only owns 14% of the land while 7% could not be verified. These audit results were further evidence that the state should expropriate land without compensation. Furthermore the so-called land reform is not taking us anywhere and has not been happening for the past 19 years.
Composition of the Economic Freedom Fighters
The current economic state agitates for the formation of a radical movement like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). It is important to eradicate the notion which dictates that EFF exists because of anger and revenge by Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu to ANC. Contrary our anger as young black Africans in this country comes from the slow pace of transform and economic emancipation of the black African majority. The Economic Freedom Fighters comprises of ordinary South Africans and NOT a Julius Malema or Floyd Shivambu party. If you had to take a look at our team you will note that it comprises of young, vibrant South Africans who are from all works of life and not just “Expelled Frustrated Fools” who want to cling to power. We are a diverse team of professionals consisting of economists, accountants, lawyers, academics, entrepreneurs, students, militant activists, workers’ movements, none governmental organisations, community-based organisations and lobby groups under the umbrella of pursuing the struggle for economic emancipation.
EFF is for the Uneducated Masses
There is this idea that whoever is a member, supporter or even will be voting for EFF in the 2014 general elections is an uneducated, unemployed and stupid fool who is used by Julius Malema to stay away from jail. On the contrary, a growing number of black educated professionals agree with Julius Malema as he articulates exactly how we feel when it comes to the economy being run by a white minority while our degrees remain meaningless and we continue to be undermined in corporate South Africa. The reality is that it is the uneducated who cannot picture a future without the white boss as they feel that they will not be employed once the white boss gone. We as educated black professionals want to be bosses are tired of being undermined and servants of the white master that is in charge. In the current conditions there is no space for us as black Africans to be entrepreneurs in the South African economy but through corruption and “tenderpreneurship”. The commercial banks refuse to give finance for our small business start-up because we do not have collateral; the whites in SA own the land. It will take us educated black professionals to convince and shape a brighter future to the destitute that is currently dependant on the white master for employment opportunities.
Failure of the ANC for the Past 20 Years
The once glorious organisation called the African National Congress which we as black Africans loved so much has not really delivered what was promised and most importantly failed to implement the principles of the Freedom Charter. I as a young black African feel that it has become a vanguard for white monopoly capital and continuing where the Apartheid government left off. 20 years is too long for the ANC to have corrected the injustices of the past. The ANC government is characterised by the following:
- 20 years of failed promises to deliver a better life for all;
- 20 years of covering up corruption through the arms deal; Nkandlagate, and Guptagate;
- 20 years of HIV/AIDS deaths and denialism;
- 20 year of substandard RDP houses;
- 20 years of trenderprenuership and corrupt practices;
- 20 years of failed healthcare system, substandard education and poor social welfare services;
- 20 years of kleptocracy, with government leaders openly looting state resources and pursuing self-enrichment;
- 20 years of open toilets, failure to provide electricity, sanitation and water;
- 20 years of Marikana killings of ordinary workers demanding a living wage; and
- 20 years of rampant service delivery protests across the country.
Enough is enough, we as young people cannot sit back in hope that the ANC will self correct. It may be cold outside the ANC but we will make it warm within the EFF structures. The Economic Freedom Fighters has given us hope and a voice for the voiceless. Most importantly it has given us the ability to shape our own destiny. We as young black Africans want to be masters of our destiny hence we have decided to be part of the Economic Freedom Fighters. The status quo needs to change and it cannot happen while a minority sector of our population is still holding to what is sacred and dear to them. We are tired of white people’s arrogance the revolution is here. Revolution is about pain and we are prepared for it. Hence we decided to go out in our thousands to launch our movement in Marikana where the ANC government has massacred our people.
Launch of Our Giant EFF Movement
On our way to Marikana for the EFF launch, we stopped at a local gas station in the North West and petrol attendants were very excited to see us shouted “Malema” as they saw us. As we approached Marikana, I couldn’t help but notice that every second taxi was branded with EFF colours and had EFF posters pasted all over it. When locals saw us in our red T-shirts and signature red berets, they were ululating, whistling and shouting “EFF” with clenched fists in the air. Fighters who came to attend the launch rally received a hero’s welcome as we travelled through the streets of Marikana leading us to the Nkaneng Township.
The EFF launch was epic and the atmosphere was electric. The closest comparison to the atmosphere at the Koppie in Marikana is that of a Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates final match at the FNB stadium. Fighters came in the numbers from various branches around South Africa in struggle songs and dance with some carrying “Vuvuzelas.” The crowd was jubilant and singing praise songs of the EFF and Malema around the mountain. The EFF launch was well attended by ordinary South Africans whose EFF message resonates with them. This included miner workers, community members, AMCU union members in their green “T-shirts” and UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa who also addressed the crowd. There were well over 20 000 people who attended the EFF launch on 13 October 2013.
The EFF launch in Marikana was a success and I was proud to be part of this historic event. The emergence of EFF has brought about political consciousness and excitement to many young people who were previously not interested in politics. This giant movement of is the new dawn of hope that people like me have been waiting for many years. Black Africans remain landless, underfed, houseless, under- employed, badly represented in senior managerial positions and I aim to lend a helping hand to correct that through EFF structures. That is the ultimate reason why I am a card carrying EFF member.