Saturday, November 28, 2009

Maybe I am a bigot

On my last post "God of bacon" left a message which may mean many different things. If the worst is meant, the comment may infer that I am a bigot and training my son to be one too.

Perhaps I am a bigot and a poor dad. No "but"'s, no excuses. God of bacon, I promise to take your comment seriously and to work at being a better person. I also pledge to become a better father.

I hope to become a better person, because I am at present very disillusioned with our politicians. Let me tell you why, and if you have any suggestions to help me overcome this state of despondency, I welcome your comment.

I do not understand how people who faught against Apartheid for decades can come into power and forget the people so easily. It starts with leadership: from a head of state who has been implicated in dubious financial deals with a known mobster, accusations of having raped a young woman, to Ministers of Parliament who gained financially through the Arms deal, employing friends and family with little to no skill to high corporate positions.

It is these politicians who discouraged the South African people to seek proper medical care and instead of taking antiretoviral medication, to treat HIV/AIDS with "beetroot, garlic and African potatoes". The same people say and do nothing about the situation in Zimbabwe, but welcome Mr. Mugabe with open arms, treating him like royalty.

South Africa's unemployment rate closes in on 60%, the highest it's ever been. There is more poverty now than during Apartheid. By 2012, we will have about 5 million AIDS orphans. Out of a population of 45 million, it is quite a high number. These children will have to look after themselves and if the current trend continues, will mostly give themselves over for sexual favours in order to get money for food. So much for beetroot, garlic and African potatoes. So much for condoms stapled to pamphlets. Did I forget to mention that we have the highest HIV infection rate in the world, the highest murder per capita?

85% of the South African municipal districts are close to insolvency and cannot provide services to residents. In my city, Pretoria, a quarter of the population do not have access to running water, electricity or sanitation services. Yet, when we read the news, there are stories of how government officials spent "$50 000" on hotel accommodation (this was one person), and demand high-end vehicles, each costing in the region of $600 000. We hear of how it is going to cost $1 million to repair the low-cost houses erected by government. These houses were built in the last 10 years, some by contractors who are not registered, but offered "a good deal". Now houses are falling in on people while they sleep.

I can go on. But DON'T take my word for it. Come and see for yourself. And don't visit the "nice" places, but come and see how politicians are systematically removing homeless people from the city centers in order to make it "look pretty" for the Soccer World Cup. Come and see the open graves lined up for the thousands of AIDS burials that take place mostly on Saturday mornings. Come visit the victims of crime who lie maimed in hospitals. Come sleep in a shack for one night, sharing accommodation with those who have been promised houses over 15 years ago (and when the houses get built, they fall in). Come sit in the long queues at state hospitals where the facilities are appalling, taking almost a day to be seen by a doctor.

So yes, as you can see, I am very disillusioned with politicians. And I will be even a greater bigot if I enable these bigots who profess that they care about the people, but conveniently forget them, to think that their actions are ok. I will be a greater bigot if I vote for them.

In the meantime, faith communities and non-profit organizations have to facilitate social welfare, stand up for the poor and care for the displaced. We have to pray with victims of crime, bury the dead and comfort the families left behind. We have to teach people about antiretroviral medication, preventing HIV infection. We have too help the displaced, support, feed and educate those in child-headed families. And when we dare do, as at Central Methodist Mission, government barges in, threatening to close these churches down.

The one thing I treasure, is that even my 6 year old boy can see through this.

1 comment:

digitaldion (Dion Forster) said...

Well put Wes. I share many of your convictions and frustrations!

Aluta continua!

In Christ,

(another bigoted parent)