Why do people worship demigods who don't serve them?

Shack dweller Sueman Mogwase prepares supper for his family who live in a plastic shack structure in Piet Plessis, North West, where poverty levels are the fourth highest in the province. The writer questions what it is about the mind of ordinary black South Africans that they forget about our living condition during elections.
Shack dweller Sueman Mogwase prepares supper for his family who live in a plastic shack structure in Piet Plessis, North West, where poverty levels are the fourth highest in the province. The writer questions what it is about the mind of ordinary black South Africans that they forget about our living condition during elections.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

It has been a long-standing wonder to me why every time before and after elections the country sees a flare up in protests, usually over the same issues.

Just in recent weeks, we have seen the issue of Amahlathi municipality (Stutterheim) in the Eastern Cape, which has declared bankruptcy.

An admission that it can no longer self-sustain and service its debtors. The situation is so dire that the municipality is currently unable to pay staff salaries.

What amazes me though is how voters went in droves to give the ruling ANC a new mandate to govern their municipalities as well as provinces. No province is more jarring to me than the Eastern Cape.

What is it about the mind of ordinary South Africans, particularly the blacks, that we forget about our living condition during elections?

What mutes our voice of reason to loathe and spit at corruption within the ruling party? Why do we turn a blind eye to alternatives each time we go to the polls?

Are we brainwashed as a nation to believe that by virtue of democracy, we are therefore liberated to a point where lines are blurred to remember what was promised at the beginning of that liberation?

The book Animal Farm, by George Orwell, illustrates that as a society we become so indebted to the sacrifices that we lose focus of the progress.

I was a jovial 11-year-old in 1994. I have fond memories of how my mother proudly spoke of new hope, that everyone would own decent houses and how their children would go to any school of their choice.

She said working conditions would be incredibly better and opportunities would be afforded to all, in particular the previously disadvantaged, without racial prejudice.

So, this newly found democracy made it possible for black people to purchase homes in suburban areas, which made racial integration a reality. Furthermore, I was able to attend what we previously referred to as model C schools and gained access to better quality education.

But all this excitement quickly turned into disdain as I watched my mother continue to toil like before.

She continued to work as hard while our lives remained the same. Not much changed and as I grew up and I realised that this new democracy did not deliver on all its promises.

It is now 2019, and we have a promise of a new dawn, as if we never had a new dawn in 1994. I am wondering how long will we be ever looking forward to these brand new dawns?

How long will the people cling to the hope of a better SA that respects and values them and not only want them for harvesting votes.

Will every new president of the ruling party seek to woo voters with promises of a new dawn?

How can people continuously put their hopes on the same system that has failed them for 25 years?

I have seen the Western Cape under the DA fall prey to the same patterns. One's first glare upon landing at Cape Town International is the glaring inequalities in this province.

I keep asking myself what is it about sentiment that drives our people to worship demigods who no longer serve them.

Do we want the future generation to inherit the same narrative of keeping the status quo for fear of the unknown?

I wonder how long it will take us to realise that we have the power to shift change in our direction.

I further wonder what it would take for us black people in particular to break free from this narrative of owing our freedom to our liberators and ultimately realise that we deserve this freedom.

Only then will we feel obliged to protect our democracy and advocate for leaders who will not abuse power and are accountable. Only then will see the end of maladministration and hospitals that can't provide nourishing meals to patients.

*Yako is an EFF MP. She writes in her personal capacity.

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