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SA: The way to the “Common Good” is still a hard one 0

According to the common rules of political economy theories, South Africa should be even healthier than EU countries. But recent problems and the current situation in the country make South Africa look like it is still hostage of its colonialist past, writes Giulio Albanese.

The African Renaissance, to which generations of South Africans have aspired, didn’t take place. It should have been the turning-point of the post-apartheid era, as both the Father of the Nation Nelson Mandela and his successor, the former president Thabo Mbeki, had promised.

It was a miracle that South Africa avoided a civil war when the hateful regime of Pretoria fell. On February 11 1990, on a clear day at the end of summer, the prisoner number

“46664” left the Victor Vester prison, near Cape Town, after 27 years of detention. His name was Rolihlahla Dalibhunga, also known as Nelson Mandela. He was released by Frederik Willem de Klerk, the last white president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner with Mandela in 1993.

Even though Mandela was released 20 years ago, the way to the “Common Good” is still a long and hard one, especially when a controversial person like the new president Jacob Zuma leads the country. Analysts are worried, and not only because of his libertine ideas about marriage. People are concerned about his way of doing politics. His critics say he follows nepotistic and populist logics, like numerous African regimes do.

A recent Amnesty International report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights”, highlights the weaknesses of the South African administrative and state apparatus.

“Persistent poverty, rising levels of unemployment and violent crime, together with the crisis in the public health sector, posed significant challenges for the new government,” says Amnesty “corruption and nepotism impeded community access to housing and services, and led to the collapse of some municipal governments and to widespread protests among affected communities. The volatile situation contributed to increased incidents of violence against foreign nationals.”

The report also mentions problems related to “political developments which continued to affect the independence and integrity of the administration of justice,” as it happened in April 2010, when the Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mokotedi Mpshe, withdrew corruption charges against Jacob Zuma on grounds of improper interference in the case.

In addition to these enormous lacking in democracy, local police has literally purged South African urban areas from street children, beggars and other fragile parts of society for the FIFA World Cup. As it often happens, poor people pay more than others.

Between 2009 and 2010, the global financial crisis has hit South Africa hard. The minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, recently explained in front of the parliament that the 2009 deficit was 6.7 per cent of the national GDP, whereas analysts had fist estimated that the amount would be around 7.3 per cent. But in 2008 the South African deficit was only 1 per cent of GDP. On the other hand, South Africa is the only African country to sit at the G20 table, a fact that makes it the only real power at a political and diplomatic level.

South Africa’s future is still uncertain, but the main challenge will surely be reducing the gap between rich and poor – who represent the majority of the country’s population. The South African wealth distribution is one of the worst in the world. And this is one of the main aims of actions taken by Christian Churches in the country: to strengthen social tissue. The South African Council of Churches has called it “critical solidarity”, a new way to show the will to support social policies which are not opposed to Christian and human values.

By Giulio Scientific Committee

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi