Social change is possible


Cameron2 By Cam Jennings

The recent election held in the Republic of South Africa has shown that social change is possible, even though this recent change is so small and insignificant and for many citizens it appears that nothing has changed in the twenty years since the end of apartheid. This country that has such a diverse natural beauty in landscape and people which is blessed in an abundance of natural resources has not progressed and moved forward into the twenty first century. It is as if there is a group that comprises the rich, government ministers and the elite that suppress the nation’s working class and the poor so that they remain slaves and peasants for many decades to come.

  For most working class people in RSA life consists of long hours, low wages, poor health and educational opportunities where they are trapped in poverty and neglected by the government and social services. It is difficult to see where social and economic reforms have assisted these citizens to move through two decades to achieve real and tangible increases in their standard of living. In 2012 I was living in Gauteng when a KPMG report was released KPMG Report 11/22/2012 shed some light on why South African society faced high

levels of poverty (large percentage of people without running water, basic services etc.) which the majority party, built to fight apartheid, fails to address so constrained as it is, by its resources-consuming feudal conflicts.

  Corruption in South Africa moves from the top down and from the bottom up to effect the majority and benefits the minority, as the rich become richer and the poor are suppressed. The KPMG report states

‘Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa make up 74 percent of all fraud cases reported in Africa. While fewer cases are reported in South Africa, the overall value of these cases is far greater in Nigeria.’ How can a modern democratic civil society deliver equality in health, education, employment and justice when there are major retardations such as fraud and corruption within government? The first step would be for the citizens to demand truth and transparency in government as a foundation for establishing trust and to provide a

more functional foundation and the commitment and resources to enforce it.

  The same darkness and early morning struggle everyday is what millions of South African people contend with, as they prepare to seek out paid work and an existence that barely meets twentieth century standards.

  Everyday, they try to survive and support not only themselves but their family. They live in shacks and shanty makeshift housing made from cardboard, plastic and corrugated iron with no running water,

electricity or sanitation. Some of these people beg at robots with hand written signs or barter with drivers in exchange for cheap Chinese manufactured products. How have the past two decades changed the lives of these people who were repressed, tortured and abused by white colonialism?

  There have been some positive changes in South Africa, such as the establishment of free and fair elections whereby everyone over the age of eighteen can vote. Nigeria is about to surpass South Africa as the twenty seventh largest economy worldwide and there are serious concerns about the future of the lower case ‘s’ that is attached sometimes to BRIC. There is a social tension that simmers within South Africa that will simmer till the source of the heat is either turned up so that it can explode, or turned off so that it can cool.

Improvements in South African society will improve when the country is ready to embrace truth and transparency and to establish trust again within daily life.

  When South Africans identify themselves firstly as South Africans and secondly by ethnicity, maybe the first real changes since apartheid will eventually unlock the russet coloured shackles that retain the multi-generational stigmas that sully and restrict real change and social development.

Cameron Jennings is the Director of C & C Marketing & Management, a small consultancy company with interest in developing SADC region based in Australia. More recently he has taken on the role as Operations Manager for Defence for Children International Zimbabwe. He is passionate about making a difference and making progress with gender equality, the empowerment of women, the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. His NGO work since 2010 takes Cameron into remote areas in Africa where he endeavours to be an effective agent of change in not for profit work. He works in health, education and rural development using a collaborative and consultative approach with governments, local development organisations and with individuals.


1 Comment

  1. Debbie says:

    i disagree with your comments. Poverty is world wide , not just in Africa. 1% of the worlds population owns half the wealth. I dont think its fair to point fingers @ Africa. Look at the global picture


Leave a Comment