Opinionista Thozamile Botha 1 June 2020

Forget race: It is time to unite as a nation and work together to build our country

Let us stop the silo mentality. Regardless of the colour of our skin, our racial or ethnic differences, and our cultural background, let’s work together.

Fellow Africans, women and men, the glorious youth of our country, boys and girls, young women and young men of all races, and old women and men of our beloved country:

This is the time for all South Africans, black people in particular, to stand up proudly and say – we can do it. Let us take our destiny into our own hands, let us move away from the culture of looking for scapegoats for African failures, let us stop making excuses for the failures of our African leadership and the malfeasance of the ruling African elite in African states.

Let us stand up with resolute determination and say to ourselves and to our nation, we can do it, we can create wealth for ourselves, we can leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren, and build icons and legends in our country. Let us, together with the poor, lift ourselves from the dusty streets, from the slum-dumps to better living conditions. Let’s stop waiting for others to do it for us, let’s stand up and lift ourselves out of poverty.

Let us tell ourselves in a voice of unison that we are all proud South Africans and we are willing, ready and able to produce that which is good, not just for our selfish and sumptuous appetite, but for the good of our rural poor, for our slum dwellers, for the unemployed, for the precarious middle class, and the aged.

Above all, let the living create a legacy for the generations to come, for their families, for their communities, for their provinces and for our nation, our beloved South Africa. Regardless of the colour of our skin, our racial or ethnic differences, and our cultural background, let’s work together. However ugly our history may be, we have a duty to build on the ruins of that past, we have a duty to protect the good things that we inherited – it is our responsibility to leave behind a better South Africa than we found in 1994, and not to ravage what we found.

We must stop destroying our state institutions, our centres of learning, our health and social facilities, only to blame colonialism later.

It is about time that we embrace one another and learn from the mistakes we have made in order to progressively move forward as a united people. While we should not forget or distort history, we must move out of the comfort zone of blaming all our social and economic ills on our historic past. While we must not forget the past, we must resist the temptation to use it as a comfort zone to justify our own errors.

To the English-speaking and Afrikaner South Africans, acknowledge the ugly parts of our history for which you took part and embrace the progressive initiatives of the black-led government. Support the baby steps the black middle class is taking, while reserving the right to criticise where necessary.

Fellow white South Africans, stop resenting the small steps black people are taking into the economy by blaming everything on black economic empowerment. Rise above the myopic lens and hold hands with the black people who are taking initiatives to ensure that they succeed. Only this way can we build a strong South African nation free of racial, cultural, and ethnic prejudices.

Blacks too have to move away from the use of regressive concepts and emotive narratives such as white monopoly capital, which only serve to reverse the gains of our hard-won democracy. Only if and when we become a proud nation can we build a strong and sustainable economy for this country. There is no way our country can be strong and our economy can grow with an English, Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaner, Jewish, or Venda economy. We must begin to acknowledge that our strength lies in our collective wisdom, power, intellectual capital and the pulling together of the country’s resources.

We, as black South Africans, have to come to grips with the reality and the real meaning of democracy, and of economic and financial independence. Freedom and democracy mean hard work and sacrifice. Creating wealth comes from hard work, discipline, and good work ethics, which entails preparation, planning and being on time for meetings.

Good work ethics do not have room for the manifestation of ill-discipline and procrastination tactics of “I will do tomorrow” what you can do and complete today. A good work ethic does not have room for excuses for poor or lack of performance or sloppy work.

Blacks demand land restitution – when it is given, we want to use it as a December or Easter weekend resort, or to simply boast to our friends that I own this piece of land from this hill to that mountain over there (Ngumhlaba wakuthi lo). There is no pointing to how much development has been initiated or improvements made since the previous farmer – instead, we destroy that which we found on the land. This kind of behaviour I call regression.

OR Tambo said, “Learn from the enemy also. The enemy is not necessarily doing everything wrong. You may take his right tactics and use them to your advantage.” Black South Africans must learn from the Afrikaners, to form a volksbelegging, a letsema, for us to give meaning to the concept of broad-based black economic empowerment to enable black people to jointly create vehicles such as black-owned and driven investment initiatives.

We must begin to work with fellow black South Africans to support their own initiatives by investing in them for their own good and for the good of their children and grandchildren. Economic empowerment should not be seen as a get-rich-quick scheme, it must not be designed to make the rich richer at the expense of the poor.

The lesson from the Afrikaners is that 500,000 of them, each contributing R150 per month, are raising R75-million a month and R900-million a year and investing this in their own projects to lift themselves out of poverty. The Afrikaner informal settlements in Pretoria North are laid out with streets and they use borehole water and give dignity to the inhabitants.

There are over 50 million black people in this country. If only one million of them were to make a subscription of R250 per month, just imagine what that would give a black business initiative in one month – R250-million. This means that instead of borrowing from the bank and incurring debts, blacks can use their own money to create wealth for themselves instead of investing stokfela money in projects blacks don’t benefit from. A new investment initiative is about to be started – it will be announced soon to give opportunities to black people to empower themselves.

Stop the silo mentality and create vehicles, co-operatives, stokfela, letsema, which are designed to enable the poor to invest in areas of the economy they would never have been able to invest in in their lifetime. 

Let’s upgrade spaza shops into trading stores and local supermarkets, open building material stores in partnerships, and share skills to help one another in improving our quality of life. DM 

 

 

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