“In a time of universal deceit-telling the truth is a revolutionary act’- George Orwell
When the former apartheid government and the liberation movements sat on the same table to discuss the future of South Africa through the CODESA negotiations, a narrative of compromises and consensus was sold to the people. The narrative looked at managing a problem instead of permanently resolving it. The narrative in a nutshell was a temporary solution to a permanent problem. However, many would argue that the lens in which a 21 year old living in democratic South Africa sees CODESA is different from that of a 21 year old who lived during the era of CODESA and the dawn of democracy.
The idea that the negotiated settlement resolved the conflict of choosing between civil war and bringing about a democracy is a false interpretation of the matter. The two options were very restrictive and were in a way coined in such a manner that one would have to choose the ‘better devil’. A question would then be asked but, democracy is a good system of governance. I say fair enough, however, democracy like a pet is trained to serve a particular person and no matter how convenient the pet is, it will always recall that it has a master.
Democracy emerged in a way that one would compare it to an adopted child. It was adopted as a result of the global paradigm shift and the collapse of the then USSR and its context was not given to the South African climate. The rise of the constitutional democracy was deemed to be the beginning of a new era but in fact it was a form of security to the former apartheid government to ensure that economic interests and exclusive development continues even in democratic South Africa.
The so called ‘negotiated settlement’ was reached but ideally one would ask who settled and what did that person settle for. The socio-economic inequalities which are visible in modern South Africa are as a result of that settlement and to find the answer as to who settled in those negotiations look at who is at the receiving end of inequality. If democracy was contextualised to the South African landscape then a situation of a poor majority and privileged and wealthy minority would not exist but it is an unfortunate that this ‘better devil’ normalised such a reality.
The South African dream of a society free of prejudice is nothing short of a failed project. It encompasses the greatest lies and misconceptions ever to exist hence the South African landscape is paradoxical and problematic. However, there is hope and the point of departure should be where did we go wrong? The rise of consciousness amongst the youth in South Africa gives one hope that there can be a South African dream. The #FEESMUSTFALL movement for one sharpened many contradictions. It opened a space where any South African youth can be able to be robust and articulate. The same thing can also be said about SAWIP and many other progressive organisations which problematize the correct issues rather than focusing on narrow and petty issues.
The South African dream can only be realised once the truth is triumphant and leaders with moral authenticity and a revolutionary consciousness are voted into the correct spaces.