Africa Day – South Africans must reflect on the role they can play

By George Mari, MPL, Member of the DA in the KZN Legislature:

Africa Day is also a day on which all South Africans should reflect on their roles in Africa.

It is the day which commemorates the signing of the OAU’s founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963.

It is a day on which African unity in combating challenges such as poverty, conflict, disease and climate change is celebrated.

There is no doubt that the continental organization has made enormous strides in fulfilling its mandate, especially in matters relating to peace and security.  Regrettably, in some cases, we must also acknowledge the failure of the AU to unite Africans.

As I stand here I am ashamed by the recent events that took place in our beloved country in Durban and Gauteng, where foreign nationals were targeted and killed.

Unfortunately, South Africa is not where it could be right now. We are not contributing what we should towards making Africa the continent of opportunity that it can be. We are not living up to our potential of being a regional engine of economic growth that can help propel Africa forward.

The success of any country is indeed reflected by its employment figures.  This is the barometer by which we can measure the success of the ANC’s rule – and it is not a good indicator. The ANC government has much to answer for.

Today there are 1,6 million more unemployed people in South Africa than when Jacob Zuma came to office in 2009. In fact, 730 more people become unemployed in South Africa every single day that President Zuma remains in office. It is critical that we introduce infrastructure that makes it easier for people to trade and do business in South Africa.

Also vital is turning our education system around.  Crippled by a teachers union that acts more like a crime syndicate, education in South Africa is languishing well behind most of our African neighbours. When many of the teachers can’t pass the very exams they set, the children have no hope of leaving school equipped for the future.

It’s one thing to talk about job shortages but we can’t have that conversation without also talking about the skills shortage we’re facing. Our education failure has left many young people virtually unemployable. So even if we manage to create enough jobs, it won’t help if we can’t fill them.

On this Africa Day, we must look towards becoming an integral part of the African community again. Denouncing and preventing the brutal xenophobic attacks on our own soil is a start. But we can do so much more. We must radically increase our African trade by making it simpler, cheaper and safer to take goods across borders.

The ANC-led government should take a blame for the recent spate of xenophobic attacks, because it has failed to preach the values the spirit of Ubuntu.

As Africans we always believe in the spirit of Ubuntu, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, which literally means that – a person is person through other people. As Africans we always carried with us this African Humanist philosophy.

Under the ANC leadership, people have forgotten that we are part of the whole continent.  South Africans have forgotten that during the apartheid era many of our struggle hero’s sought refuge in these neighbouring countries. And in most instances they were welcomed as part of those communities.

Once it becomes easier to not only start and run a business in South Africa, but also to buy, sell and transport across our borders, our country will become a magnet for foreign investment and an engine of economic growth for our region and the continent.

Instead, what we have done is show little to no interest in doing business with other African states and has been seeking ties with countries like China, Russia, and Cuba etc.

I love Africa and I belong in Africa. Let us work together as Africans. Let us stop the hate and start appreciating and celebrating our uniqueness.