Imagine you were a pilot, flying through a storm, and a mad person started shouting that he had seen the angel of death in the clouds, and you needed to change the flight path immediately. Would you do it?
You’d have to remain focussed if you are to land the plane safely.
There are too may distractions in South Africa right now, and it is time to focus on national progress, what Steve Biko referred to as “nation building.”
According to the science fiction writer, futurist and inventor, Arthur C. Clarke, in his famous essay, Profiles of the Future, there are two failures that impede progress, a “Failure of Vision” and a “Failure of Nerve.” South Africa has been trapped in the former.
When there is no vision to hold officials accountable, it is easy to be distracted by false gods that dangle cash and are blinded by their conspicuously crass consumption.
Politics is about power and economics is about metrics, none of which create a better society. People could be incredibly poor, digging dustbins for food and sleeping on the streets, but the economists will claim that the economy is doing well. In order to justify that injustice, politicians will bend the truth and accuse the victims of their system, as being lazy.
Helen Zille is the current example of the mad person who is distracting South Africans. She has come to the realisation that her best years are behind her, and that at the end of her long and arduous walk in search of adoration, there is no Nobel Prize to be won. Zille has been in a brawl with her most popular colleagues, particularly, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Patricia De Lille. When the spotlight shines on others, she uses Twitter to try and turn the sun to shine only for her.
Zille’s racist rants should be understood in the context of rising white supremacy around the world, taking the world back to the years preceding the Second World War. White supremacy is longing for the good old days when the economy was booming only for white males, and the rest of the world existed only for their convenience.
It is Africa’s time and white supremacists know it. They understand that our best years are ahead of us — with a young population, and no legacy systems to hold us back. But opportunity does not last forever. It has to be seized. Our people will not remain young forever. Ten million unemployed people is a big number, and we cannot tell them about education, while their stomachs are growling, and their children crying from the pangs of hunger.
We must put job-creation first. This means resuscitating manufacturing. It means renegotiating our agreements with our trading partners, to bring back certain industries such as textile manufacturing to South Africa. The reason why most countries always protected the textile industry, was because it can potentially employ large numbers of people without requiring high levels of education.
Jobs were decimated in coastal towns when the government enacted laws prohibiting the locals from fishing. As one man told me in Uvongo, on the South Coast of KZN, “White people took the land, and our government took away the sea.” He used to catch lobsters with his family and sell at a decent price. He was sure to sell something every day, and supper was always guaranteed.
Africans are the largest users of the 15-seater taxi or ‘Matatus’ as they are called in Swahili, yet after so many years, there is still no South African Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), even though we have spent so much money developing the South African automotive industry. The winners are Europeans, but the taxes are ours. The list is endless. Perhaps all we need do is to return to our vision, of “A better life for all,” and this time, the emphasis should be on ALL, and not just the connected elite.
Muzi Kuzwayo is the co-founder of IgnitiveMPZ, an Artificial Intelligence Marketing Consultancy. He is the author of Black Man’s Medicine. He writes a column in the City Press called Friends and Friction.