Surely by now, the majority of us know that we are in the early stage of the maturity of our democratic dispensation. Since its inception some 16 years ago, much has been happening in terms of the society’s participation in the economy, corporate environment and entrepreneurship. According to current statistics, unemployment continues to be a burning issue and I want to commend government for introducing strategies to address unemployment amongst the youth. Whether it’s by temporary or permanent methodologies.
The methods introduced by government include the Extended Public Works Programme which dominates in the spheres that address unemployment. From there, the process was rolled out or extended to the government tender processes, which didn’t work to the advantage of many of us – the unorganized (ie. non-political affiliates) youth.
Over and above, it is acknowledged that the programmes of government will never work to the benefit of us all, but what we continue to see happening on the streets of our cities leaves much to be desired. Tshwane has come up with a beautiful project of empowering entrepreneurs by allocating designated areas where everyone can run their small businesses through the Municipality’s processes. However, in the few months of my stay in Tshwane, I have observed how the City’s Municipality has taken fighting illegal participation in the economy to the streets. I am talking about street vendors particularly.
I am aware that each city has Metropolitan Police officials who monitor the validity of the licenses that are issued to such street vendors. Lately, I watched a scene where one street vendor, a black foreigner, was approached and harassed by this city’s officials. I was disappointed to hear the choice of words that the officials threw at the poor gentleman who, in my opinion, was only trying to make life easier for him and his family.
Out of the blue his stock was confiscated and people who regard themselves as acting on behalf of the Municipality manhandled him. It is really disappointing to observe that a person who is wearing the colours and logo of the government can conduct himself in that manner. Disappointing to see that they refer to certain people as makwerekwere and later claim to be acting on behalf of the government.
As black people, we have been complaining about racism. We expect peacekeeping agencies to react immediately once we have made the call. But the question remains: are we prepared to accept one another as one nation of black people, irrespective of our ethnic belonging or origin? I believe that certain people misuse the systems of government only to put the same government on the spot for under-delivering to the majority of society. Not long ago we saw the xenophobic attacks against our brothers and sisters who are foreign nationals seeking political asylum. I believe that such unwarranted attacks still exist.
In future, the same people who are provoking the attacks will say that the government is not doing anything about their situations. But does “humanity” and “ubuntu” exist among black people? The Black South African community – myself included, need to stop lazing around and pointing fingers at our African brothers for “taking our jobs.” We need to work.