The ‘state of nation’ address is the topical issue of the week. This annual ritual has come and gone. Just like the five (5) yearly elections ritual, after all is said and done, the poor African working class masses go back to their landlessness, homelessness, hunger, diminished access to education and unemployment amongst many social ills afflicting our communities. An informed and class conscious citizenry such as the one we yearn to create, should ask if we are being told the real ‘state of nation’ and if we are being told the truth about the way out of this quagmire.
It is public record that after 15 years a mere 4% of 87% of the land taken from indigenous majority African dispossessed class, in terms of the 1913 Land Act, has been restored to its rightful owners whereas the bulky balance remain in the hands of minority white landed dispossessor class. The Cheque book land restitutions, ‘willing seller willing buyer’ and use it or lose it policies defeat the objective of land reform for equitable distribution and have logically resulted in dismal failure with explosive catastrophic consequences. We are not told this gloomy state of the nation and it is clear that the powers that be have no intention to redress this gravely disproportionate settler colonial racial class land ownership imbalances.
In the same breath farm workers continue to endure harassment, exploitation, and long working hours whilst they are paid salaries below living wage. Food prices continue to rise while those who work long hours, without rest, to produce food, sleep with empty stomachs. We need decisive intervention by government to shield the poor, weak and vulnerable workers. At the same time these workers should be organized to stand up and fight for their rights and fair share of their economic contribution. Real food security must start with food security for the producing farm workers and their families.
Many of our people in urban and the outskirts of urban centres live in squatter camps under dire and squalor conditions which pose great danger to their health and lives. In addition they are subject to the government sponsored ‘Red Ants’s’ humiliating reign of terror. This issue of adequate housing remains critical even in our townships where the poor African working class resides in dense population.
The poor African students do not have access to higher education because of lack of study funds. Many pass grade 12 with good marks and yet cannot further their studies due to systematic exclusion from the market priced higher learning education. Ironically government bemoans so called ‘jobless growth’ on lack of skills and does very little to wide-open doors of learning to afford students an opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills which would prepare them for a productive role in the world of work. Without education, the vicious circle of poverty will never be broken. Government must, as a matter of urgency, give the youth of our land free equal access to quality education up to first tertiary level qualification.
The blatant misinformation and misrepresentation of the employment situation is of serious concern. For instance we are told a million jobs have been created so far through the expanded public works programme but we are not told that these jobs created between 2004 and 2007 were temporary, no longer exist and therefore not worth boasting about. The truth is that the rate of unemployment is decreasing but fast increasing. The truth is that the more we are told things are changing the more things remain the same. No amount of spinning information will hide the truth from the poor African working class masses who experience landlessness, homelessness, hunger, limited access to education and unemployment.