Memories of those heady days just after the 1994 elections, were pregnant with hope. Hope for improved socio-economic conditions. When millions of black South Africans cast their vote for the first time on 27 April 1994, they were filled with dreams of a better life after centuries of colonial and apartheid brutality.

The dream drove people into orbits of ecstasy.

The majority’s dream was that South Africa’s economy will no longer be solely under the control of an exclusive club made up mostly of white people. For 27 years the joy has turned into pain and the dream has become a nightmare. Inequality has grown into a colossal and a scary beast. The dispossessed have observed with disbelief how the exclusive white club has taken aboard a select few new black members, as their situation worsens. How can the country prosper when it disregards the majority of its citizens and only embraces the interests of the minority?

It has become obvious for the millions who are unemployed and unemployable that they were probably duped into believing that their lives in post-apartheid South Africa would improve.

The goal of the democratic order agreed upon, that the new South Africa would create better socio-economic conditions that were previously enjoyed by whites under apartheid, has become a mirage. It is becoming a mirage because the economic and social developments in post-apartheid South Africa have their foundation in the pre-democracy representativeness of white minority rule and the once-leader-of-society, the ANC, has spectacularly failed to dismantle this system after being in power for 27 years.

There should not be any surprise though, because the ANC is riddled with factionalism and corruption of industrial scale. As it is, the party has dived straight into the mud to play pig games and carries not even an ounce of resemblance to the party of high principles and grand objectives of its forebears.

There are those among us who say life has improved for many South Africans. This is a very naïve, sadistic and cruel view when one takes into account that, “only 10% of South Africans live in ‘oppulence’, while 35% are ranked as middle class, and more than 50% live in abject poverty”.  If things were so lekker, then why is The World Bank approximating that South Africa would need to create twice as many the number of jobs per annum to achieve a significant reduction in the inequality gap?

The past few years have seen millions of people losing jobs. If you really believe that life is now far better post-1994, then you live in a different planet. An article published by on 30 November, 2021, reads: “The jobless rate in Africa’s most-industrialised economy has exceeded 20% for at least two decades, even though output expanded by 5% or more a year in the early 2000s. The International Monetary Fund projects the rate to reach 38.6% in 2026. That is likely to have negative repercussions for the world’s most unequal society.”

What is painfully true is that the gains of post-1994 have been distributed unequally, with the well-connected few enjoying the benefits of the new order at the exclusion of the poor majority, read: BLACK!

If inequality and systemic corruption continue unabated, we will not be able to escape the political bedlam that has dogged African states in the postcolonial period. The time has come for all of us to abandon the denialism which is always shaped by a narrative of stable progress.

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