Ground swell of change
There have been defining moments throughout history, in every culture, that have forever changed the balance of the country and indeed its citizens. The eradication of apartheid, for example, forever changed the course of South Africa. This change was critical and correct for the country, it was a crime to have apartheid in the first place, and the formal demise of this evil has meant that the South Africa has a platform from which to build.
I have read many articles over the past week around the student protests against fee increases and other issues. I support their call for fees to be reviewed and for education to be made accessible to the majority of South Africans and not the minority, as it currently is the case.
The government is going to face a massive challenge in delivering on this, due to the generational effect of wealth distribution. The impact of decades of unfair treatment of the majority of South Africans is going to be felt for generations to come, education is just one of the sectors in which the inequality is going to be perpetuated. Health, housing, jobs and access to basic services are others.
The one thing that the government faces now, that it has not faced before, is the challenge of South Africans truly uniting around a cause. The overwhelming support from all sectors for the students was a hallmark for me, it signals a significant change in the way people will come together around an issue. I believe that the government will be faced with more of these uprisings and we are going to see a significant change in the political landscape. The ANC is losing control of their electorate, there is a growing feeling of discontent, and they are going to have to deliver a leadership that the people trust, if they are going to hold onto power.
It is not surprising for me that the youth are leading this change. The students can see the challenges that they are still going to face and their fees are just one component. They are growing restless, the government (if the have any sense left at all) will need fix the crises within the youth, with a dash of urgency. The political landscape is begging for new leadership to step to the for and I imagine it won’t be long until this is a reality.
I hope that the leadership that emerges is able to shape the uprising and that this does not become an out of control, one action to the next, scenario.