Saturday, June 7

South Africa 2014 - A Visit and Comparison with Israel

Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake han...
Frederik de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shake hands at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January 1992 Copyright World Economic Forum ( (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the modern mantras of today is comparing Israel with apartheid South Africa, which is an insipid exercise, especially by those who never grew up under the apartheid regime. Comparisons, if any, are more with ANC rule today under Jacob Zuma concerning corruption. The difference is in Israel's favor when it comes to indicting public figures involved in corruption and even rape. In South Africa, Zuma is president, while in Israel, his behavior would be regarded as moral turpitude and he .would face trial 
I visit Cape Town every two years or so. For me South Africa is a very special country that has undergone an incredible transformation from apartheid rule to democracy peacefully. So much has been written about this transformation and the part that the late Nelson Mandela played in 
ensuring a peaceful change. 

My roots are in South Africa, where I was born, bred and educated. Even though I have lived 
most of my life in Israel, I shall always remain a Cape Townian at heart. Not only is Cape Town one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is also a city with many contrasts and the people are very friendly. It has also become a very popular tourist center with many attractions. The famous Waterfront, which was once the Cape Town Harbor and the gateway to Africa, has now become famous for its excellent restaurants and classy shops. It is also the departure point for the famous Robben Island, where the late President Nelson Mandela had spent nearly 27 years in prison under the most inhumane conditions.

The most positive development in South Africa is the total disappearance of apartheid. People are mixing freely. There is not even a remnant of the old apartheid regime. The Afrikaners, who were identified with apartheid, have accepted black majority rule. A common South African patriotism has arisen from the ashes of the evil apartheid regime
Nelson Mandela deserves great credit for the peaceful change from apartheid to democracy. The other player that people forget is Frederik de Klerk, the last white President, also deserves credit. Both Mandela and de Klerk had a desire to initiate peaceful transition to democracy and an end to apartheid in South Africa. Both Israelis and Palestinians have much to learn from the example of these two great leaders. They succeeded in avoiding a racial blood bath in South Africa. They had the same interests in negotiating a peaceful change. This desire for change is lacking in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Both sides lack vision.
Twenty years of African National Congress rule has taken its toll on the majority of South Africans, many of whom are living in severe poverty.  The ANC that had such a noble history of fighting the evil apartheid regime is now a party of corrupt fat cats who involved in enriching themselves at the expense of those who put them in power. The legacy of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others is still strong despite the change of direction of the ANC. No doubt these great leaders would turn in their graves if they were to see what has happened to the party that they had established. 

While in South Africa I had decided to go off the beaten track and visit some of there townships around Cape Town. Most of the townships such as Macassar and Hout Bay are inhabited by the Colored Community. I had some rather interesting encounters with these people. The  impression that I got was, a feeling of disappointment with ANC rule. Black Affirmative Action is conspicuous. The Colored Community feels that very little has changed in their standard of living. Today the Blacks get priority in the job market. Whites are at the bottom of the ladder while the Coloreds remain somewhere in between. One Colored gentleman told me that a black face" gets priority in the job market."

We are witnessing apartheid in reverse in South Africa due to various affirmative action programs. The idea of the best man for the job is not top priority rather his skin color not so much his ability.  

In the more classy suburbs of Cape Town, there are few vagrants and homeless visible as they 
are rounded up. This is not the case in other areas of South Africa.

The ANC, after twenty years of rule, has not delivered the goods to the majority of South Africans, who live in severe poverty - many even below the breadline. Educational standards have dropped and strikes are frequent. While I was in South Africa, there has been a lot of unrest on the mines. Whenever there is a strike, the strikers always dance and sing in rhythm as if they are celebrating. This is emphasized by raising and lowering their sticks or poles in time to their songs. Today the ills of mismanagement in government are on the rise as well as corruption. In other democracies, the electorate would vote for a change of government.

In South Africa the corrupt ANC won the elections with hardly a dent in their power base. They use similar propaganda tactics as the old apartheid government. There are rumblings of discontent by the old guard of the ANC, who are dissatisfied with the way the ANC is governing. The mantra is: "Blame it on apartheid!"

The ANC cronys in government are enriching themselves on the backs of the majority of the impoverished in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma, whose past is tarnished with accusations of rape and has had all these indictments closed. He continues to is rule and ruin the country.Can this be blamed on the apartheid legacy that ended in 1994?

Oh! Let us not forget the Nkandla home that Zuma built at a heavy cost to the tax payer.. Why do the majority of South Africans still  vote for the corrupt ANC with its incompetent leadership and enriched corrupt cronies? Is it because of the ANC legacy of Nelson Mandela? Maybe!  However this legacy is disappearing into the mists of history. The ANC is not that of Mandela anymore. Its history of fighting for freedom and democracy in South Africa is noble. Today it is corrupt, insensitive and inefficient. There are so many social problems including the high crime rate  that the ANC has not addressed. Cronyism is the name of the game. The homeless, shanty towns, drug problems and high crime rate still remain - blame the apartheid of 20 years ago is an excellent excuse to do nothing except enrichment of ANC cronies. South African currency is weak and wages are poor. Blame apartheid of course!

South Africa has rich natural resources yet the mine-workers are still exploited as in the apartheid years. No accountability with the Platinum Miners going on strike.    
When the ANC wishes to quell a strike, they employ similar methods as used by the apartheid police. The Marikana strike is an example of brute force that was used.

Affirmative action, while it is understandable and justifiable for the short term in order to integrate all South Africans into the professions and work force. It has its pitfalls. The standard of education for blacks under apartheid was poor. The democratically elected government had to integrate education so that all South Africans receive a good education. Unfortunately, this resulted in the standard being dropped in order to achieve this. Laws were passed that ensured that blacks were integrated into all jobs. A compromise was made and this resulted in lowering standards of admission to colleges of higher learning in order to accommodate these people.

Affirmative action gives preference to those who are black rather than to those of all races who are skilled for the required job. We have a system of apartheid in reverse. The ANC is not 
doing enough for all the people of South Africa. Hidden apartheid is alive and kicking with the 
racial roles being reversed. Race for the job takes priority over rate for the job.
This brings me to the so-called comparison of Israel to apartheid South Africa. There is no comparison at all. There were never separate amenities for Jews and non-Jews in Israel. Parks, beaches, public places and transport were segregated in South Africa. Entertainment, education and a host of other facilities were unavailable for blacks but the whites were not short of anything. In Israel this was never the case. In the occupied territories, there are roads for the Jewish settlers which are forbidden for Palestinians use. Still this is a far cry from apartheid. Even the Security Fence is not the "apartheid wall" as it has saved many lives - Jewish as well as Arab. When this wall was not built, suicide Islamist terrorists would infiltrate and bomb up innocent people. No country would tolerate having its citizens being harmed or killed in terrorist acts irrespective of the cause.

There are developments in the new South Africa which give rise for concern. There is talk of transparency in government but in practice there is none. The ANC closes its eyes when it comes to cronyism and corruption. President Jacob Zuma is insensitive to the serious problems that need attention.

Despite all these problems, hope lies in the hands of the young people. They are more educated than those in the present ANC Government. Many are travelling more and are aware of the corruption of the present government. This is the silver lining at the end of the dark tunnel built by the ANC.
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