A brief examination of the voters’ registration weekend stance adopted by various political leaders suggests they view elections as a catalyst for bringing about socio-economic transformation.
This is exemplified by the widespread use of the slogan “2024 is our 1994” by numerous opposition parties.
However, this theme overlooks the reality that democracy extends beyond periodic elections – it is an ongoing process that empowers individuals to contribute to reconstruction and development, daily.
We should embrace the proposal to evaluate the 30 years of our democracy – to acknowledge the process of reconstruction, development and transformation as not only the responsibility of the government. Civil society and business also have a role to play.
The fragmentation of the working class, exacerbated by economic disparities and the dominance of monopoly capital in the financial market, poses a significant challenge.
With that said, the inability of organisations such as Cosatu and the SA Communist Party to unite the working class has led to a state of weakness.
The Marikana massacre, the rift between Cosatu and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the temporary halt of activities at the Gold One Mine in Springs due to a sit-in strike by more than 500 miners because of a labour dispute between NUM and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, serve to remind us of the substantial internal divisions within the labour movement.
Monopoly capital has significantly influenced the current economic landscape of our country. This as it relates to economic transformation and development. The acknowledgement by the UK-based multinational corporation, Standard Chartered Bank, of its involvement in manipulating the dollar/rand currency rate illustrates the extent to which monopoly capital, within the financial sector, has undermined the interests of the working class and government.
Due to our significant dependence on imports, including essential items such as food and clothing, the influence of the manipulation of the rand/dollar exchange rate should not be underestimated.
An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa by Mario Rocha exposes the corrupt and fraudulent connections between liquidators and other individuals in the insolvency sector, with a particular focus on banks.
In 1994, Hlengiwe Hlophe of Ukwanda Farms in Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal, was just an ordinary working-class member. However, her determination led her to seize opportunities presented by the government in 2009, allowing her to acquire a farm with 35 000 chicken layers. By 2011, she had expanded her farm to 120 000 layers, winning the 2016 Department of Agriculture’s Commercial Woman Farmer of the Year award.
Despite her inspiring journey, her success attracted jealousy from those opposed to transformation, particularly white farmers. Malicious allegations led to the farm being placed under curatorship. It was during this time that, because of a court order, her farm was placed under someone else’s care. She fell behind on loan payments taken out to acquire the farm. This marked the turning point in the decline of a farm that was previously on an upward trajectory.
She was eventually cleared of all charges in March last year. However, her dreams have been shattered.
An analysis of constitutional amendments since 1994 reveals that changes in elections have been effective, while amendments aimed at transforming our society and the economy have been weakened.
This suggests that our struggle for liberation and democracy was primarily focused on the right to vote, when in fact it was about addressing the socio-economic challenges encountered by the poor.
Our constitution and legislation are being utilised to the detriment of diligent individuals such as Hlophe.
It may be prudent to reassess the constitution so that it serves our populace more effectively.
- Baloyi is an independent director of Eco City Trust, an organisation focusing on the conservation of environment and heritage