Friday 24 March 2017

20 years of ANC 'rainbow' -- but still no pots of gold

Sebastien Berger in Khayelitsha, South Africa

AS SOUTH Africans celebrate the 20th anniversary today of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, many are accusing the ANC of failing to realise his vision of a 'Rainbow Nation'.

Mr Mandela walked out of Victor Verster prison after 27 years of detention to a hero's reception.

Reaching out to whites, the man who would become his country's first black president said he bore no bitterness towards them. At the same time, he gave the black majority the hope of real improvements in their poverty-stricken lives.

However, 20 years on, a vast township outside Cape Town bears witness to the distance that remains to be travelled.

In Khayelitsha, row after row of corrugated metal shacks house vast numbers of people, running water is often absent, and unemployment is rife.

"This is how we live," said Eric Mayekiso (31) as he pointed at a puddle of filthy water from a burst pipe.

"I love the ANC but I'm not satisfied with the people here," he said. "They ignore these things and they want to gain for their own benefit."

Legacy

At the sight of a white man, one youth called out: "I am looking for a job." The economic legacy of apartheid is so strong that skin colour remains a reliable indicator of wealth.

"We have a lot of problems," Muriel Tenjiswa (72) berated Derek Hanekom, deputy minister of science and technology, as he toured the township.

The walls of her house, one of more than two million built by the ANC government and distributed free, are riddled with damp. Nevertheless, at the mention of Mr Mandela, her tone changed utterly. "That man is an angel," she said.

Mr Hanekom, a white former ANC exile who served in Mr Mandela's first cabinet, was sanguine about the criticism.

"It's not a case of have hopes been fulfilled," he said. "It's are hopes being fulfilled? We have an awful lot to do and we will have to address the pace."

Anthony Butler, professor of politics at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, said Mr Mandela's dream of a "rainbow nation" was under threat.

He added: "Many black citizens have enjoyed real gains -- although many more, of course, have not." (© Daily Telegraph, London).

Irish Independent

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