JHB based Production PLanning & Logistics manager.
So, for almost a century, dark-skinned South African citizens (blacks, Indians and coloureds) were disenfranchised by previous regimes, through policies that were designed to segregate along race lines. Then democracy dawned and the shoe is now on the other foot..
First we got equal rights, through our national constitution (one of the best in the world I hear); later in the day we received Affirmative Action in the workplace, followed by BEE (later B-BB EE). Then we came back and received a variety of grants to a whole bunch of deserving citizens. To top it all up, we started enjoying government tenders which were given to deserving previously disadvantaged groups, with the view to re-distribute the country’s wealth and equalise the economic wealth floating around.
As if on cue, a certain mentality started to appear within the black communities: the entitlement mentality. The ideology that black people are entitled to a host of benefits and some misbehaviour, just because in the past benefits were given to non-blacks; for example:
Public servants are entitled to hold on to positions in government (even if they are unable or willing to do the actual job), people are entitled to get grants, people are entitled to act above the law; just because they were oppressed during the apartheid years. In my opinion this is a nation destroyer of note.
Police are entitled to bribes, because they earn ‘low salaries’. Nurses are entitled to strike, at the expense of patients, even though this should actually be an essential service. Teachers are entitled to abscond from their teaching positions even while present at work just because they can and the government is powerless to put them in their place.
People are entitled to be in positions in the public sector (cadre deployment) because they are of the colour skin that was previously segregated against, but also because they belong to the party that fought for the liberation of the people. As a result, we ended up with a public service that is a dismal failure in action. Education has gone to the dogs, I mean we can’t even deliver a textbook; health service is on the verge of crippled, social services are almost non-existent. But no one is taken to task for this absolute chaos; just because they are entitled to be in government.
Because people feel that they are entitled to better, no matter their education and skills level, in the township, some economic activities in the informal employment sector are looked down upon. Jobs like hairdressers, hawking, shoe repairs (etc.) are not pursued because apparently they don’t hold the standard to which people feel they are entitled to. This is one of the reasons why foreigners come into this country, get immersed in these activities and end up making a better living than the locals. The next thing, the locals get jealous and go after the foreigners under the guise of xenophobia.
In the workplace, some people feel that they are entitled to equal pay, no matter their level of skills, education or experience and no matter what their performance is in those positions. Hence productivity is so low in our businesses and labour costs are so high relative to skill and experience and relative to productivity. And we wonder why businesses find it better to import goods from places like China, where pay for performance is a standard and people don’t feel entitled to anything other than that which they worked for and deserve.
Enter the ruling party and entitlement takes a different dimension altogether; one would think that the ruling party was the only party that fought the liberation war. Just because they fought for the liberation of the masses, they are entitled to be in power; it doesn’t matter that they are doing a shoddy job of public service delivery; the public must just tolerate them because as struggle veterans, they are entitled to govern. God forbid that one points to their weaknesses and the impact of their lack of commitment to service delivery; then one is labelled a demagogue or a counter-revolutionary.
Then enter the president and his umpteen wives. The man, who is entitled to marry as many wives as he wants, at a cost to the tax payer; because first he was in jail for fighting for “the liberation of the people”. Secondly, he belongs to a party that is entitled to govern because they fought for the liberation of the people. The man that is entitled to live in a mansion on the hill, while a stone throw away from his house, people are suffering and living in unacceptable conditions.
One could easily blame this mentality on the lack of education; I blame it on the lack of directive leadership from our political leaders. Over time, I came to the conclusion that the political leaders of the ruling party are only in it for the money, not because they are committed to improving the lives of ordinary citizens of this country. To think that after 20 years of democracy, the country’s wealth is still distributed unevenly; we are one of the most unequal societies in the world; for an economy as developed as ours that is shocking. Someone once said ‘the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer’. It’s sad but this is the reality of life in South Africa.
Black people need to find a way to channel their energies into the positive moulding of our society. People must be accountable for their actions, or lack thereof. Respect for the law is the starting point; if we do not respect the same laws we voted into being when we voted for democracy, we are cutting our own noses to spite our faces.
For me, come election year, I will vote with my head like I usually do. I am not voting for people that do nothing for me and yet feel entitled to my vote.
“Oh hell no, this madness must come to an end now!!!!”.