Parties must now work together to correct mistakes of past 30 years 

Some of us who were in the liberation struggle are often startled when a few people in our country say things were better under the settler-colonial dispensation than now. It hurts like hell to hear anybody say something like that. It is sacrilegious. 

However, on calm reflection, most of us would admit that the democratic project in the last 30 years has not lived up to expectation, especially for the vast majority of black people who were at the receiving end of the brutal white minority regime. 

Under the democratic dispensation, we have become the most unequal society on earth and black people as a whole have become poorer. It is a damning reality that should humble most of us. 


The results of the elections of May 29  are a reflection of the increasing disenchantment of the citizens of this country with the political setup and its failure to make their lives better. Either large swaths of them did not register to vote, or if registered did not turn up at the voting stations, or they voted to give us a fragmented parliament. 

Black political parties must shoulder most of the blame for the sorry state in which the country finds itself.  

They were always in the majority in parliament in the last 30 years, but failed to improve the participation of blacks in the economy, especially in the ownership aspect.  

They squandered the opportunity the citizens gave them for a long 30 years. Their most spectacular failure was in land reform. They sold blacks a dummy by embarking on a roadshow to ask us if we want back the land that was robbed from us at gunpoint. How cruel is that? Do you ever ask the victim of a robbery if they want their property back? 

The results of the elections should jog us to recall the wise counsel of Amilcar Cabral when he said: “Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for things in anyone’s head.  

They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children.” 


It seems some of  our parties have learnt nothing from the past. After the citizens dealt them a hand that is a hung parliament, they are squabbling about forming a government.  

They are screaming about black parties coming together to form a government.  

What will they do differently when they failed in the last 30 years to better the lives of the majority?  

Surreally, some of those spewing radical rhetoric were responsible for the current situation, from the secret negotiations with the settler-colonial regime, to the drafting of the constitution, right up to governing the country in the last 30 years. 

In fact, some of them have participated in the feeding frenzy at the trough of corruption and sleaze. Do they think the people have forgotten? 

Let black political parties, in particular, humble themselves before the people; accept the election results; work together in the service of the people, and hopefully correct the mistakes of the past 30 years. 

We should see a robust land reform programme; the eradication of poverty; better schools and hospitals; municipalities that work and safety for the citizens.  

Let service to the people replace insincere radical pronouncements. We owe it to our children. 

  • Mangena is a former cabinet minister and a former leader of Azapo

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