The South African children born in 1994 are currently sitting their Matric Exams. A generation known as the “Born Frees”, they have no memory or emotional attachment to the struggle and will be able to vote in the next general election in 2014. How do they view South Africa: The Rainbow Nation, The Political Miracle & the iconic reconciliation of its people?
Last week we spoke to JP Landman. He is always a positive political commentator and as a result of his positive disposition, he has often been right in the last few years. I must point out that he and most other political commentators said 5 years ago that they would eat their hat if Zuma got in to the presidency!
He quoted the editor of the Economist Magazine who said that “as journalists the constant risk is that we over interpret the short term and under rate the long term trends. What is needed of course is a longer term view.”
As we know the short term view in South Africa has been and remains terrible: The awful events of Marikana; the consistent and very violent industrial action; Malema’s opportunism; the upcoming ANC elective conference in Mangaung. We see very obvious political interference in the prosecuting authority (again) and the disconnect of a president asking for a pay freeze for top executives and civil servants while he gets permission to build a personal home for R260m.
Landman said that the JSE has gone through repeated new highs in the months subsequent to Marikana. He pointed out that the relentless and sporadic industrial action is typical for this time of year. We normally lose 3.3 million work days a year to industrial action and up to last week we had lost (only) 2,6m work days. The average since 1994 has been 3 million days.
Much is made of Julius Malema and his support. On the eve of this court case in Limpopo the Youth League had permission for 15,000 people to have a night vigil to support him. Only 2000 people turned up and this in his home town! We must realise that we are served by a lazy media who press the hot buttons of the White South African (property rights, change in constitution, freedom of the press and “the Swart Gevaar”). Put another way: Fear sells media.
Landman joked, saying that he wants to fund a party set up by Julius Malema as he could potentially take 10% of the vote away from the ANC and we would end up with an opposition. As Helen Zille knows, the DA will never gain enough support to win an election in its current form. They need to somehow talk to the black constituency if they hope to gain power nationally. The DA will most likely continue to thrive in local elections and win power over far more municipalities and provinces. They will do this because the DA deliver. Nationally, black voters will not vote for them in their current form. To vote against the ANC is to vote against the people who gave you dignity in 1994. It’s simply too much to ask of the older voters in particular.
Which poses the question: How will the “Born Frees” vote?
Landman spoke about a meeting he had with young black executives in Johannesburg. They indicated they will most likely vote for the DA in local elections but the ANC in national. When he delved further, they admitted that they don’t believe they would be in the jobs they are in without BEE. The ANC will continue to deliver on this policy. Landman challenged them to say that they were young, educated, intelligent & ambitious and would have been there despite the policy. They did not believe that to be true. It is certainly something that the DA in its new form will have to take on board.
Landman believes that the ANC will speak shortly and only then can we consider what is going to happen at Mangaung later this year. There are 3,200 branches and it is thought that they will decide before the conference if there is to be a challenge to the leadership or to any other position.
A few things that are pretty certain in the long term:
There will be no change to the constitution.
There will be more BEE to change the structure of the economy. (Marikana showed us all that we need a middle class, quickly.)
Freedom of the press will be upheld.
Land reform must continue.
Now enter the Born Free Generation. Like all kids their age all around the world, their short term future does not look good. As they turn into adults they are seeing their future weaken and the miracle is turning into a reality of corrupt & leaderless political class. It is time for us all as South Africans of this new democracy to think of how we can get involved in some way, however small, to help build a better country.
The time has come to be brave, bold and loud.