My country is not at war, or at least not the conventional blood war. Its democracy has been put to test on several occasions and it has ducked every jab. The war has transitioned from guerrilla warfare to what seems like the inevitable struggle for economic emancipation.
That is why I am a victim of modern exile, like many others, we have fallen into a trap of brain drain, Western bodies have recognised within us what our own have failed to see.
Adopting the reconciliation policy after Independence meant we would accept to live in harmony, at the time, after several years of oppression the natives would give up anything for political freedom.
Twenty-seven years later, it has become more vivid that perhaps negotiation with the coloniser was compromised from our part. In desperate times the economic elite, who sat with native representatives knew that giving up political and labour-repressive authority would be more of a benefit to their economic interests than sustaining a regime which can no longer profit them due to a sustained uprising and non-stop mobilisation.
Thus, they knew that all that mattered was power over the economy, and there is no greater power than that of the economy.
Academics have argued that sustained mobilisation and insurgency by the proletariat has many times resulted in compromise by the economic elite. This was true when class cleavages existed racially, what happens now when the regime and economic elites are the same race as the economically oppressed masses?
We witnessed the birth of movements like the “Affirmative Reposition”, an attempt at an uprising which seemed focused at first, but later lost its agenda and now has no sustained vision.
However, it was admirable to see in the end that cleavage was tempered by consensus as the wise Larry David would state… but what has consensus produced? The landless remain landless, the unskilled remain economically oppressed and more sadly, the educated are still unemployed.
We can no longer blame the apartheid regime; it has been almost three decades in a democratic nation. Our leaders are those we have chosen, the conditions we are in are no longer those our own people cannot change. Perhaps the mistake we have made as a civil society is we haven’t been vigorous enough in demanding accountability for our nation’s setbacks.
Too many times money has gone missing and nobody is held accountable. We have fallen victim to bureaucratic business deals that have gone successfully unnoticed; we have now become too comfortable with apologies and no action, and somewhat condoning corruption.
It all comes down to the fact that we all have to accept responsibility and as civil society join hands in meeting government halfway in materialising our mutual dreams.
What our government should realise is that an economy that invests on the human capital of the poor is what develops sustained economic growth. Until an administration seriously revisits our local education and persistently sees to it that it is more economically practical to produce entrepreneurs and fewer dropouts; until civil society consistently holds government accountable and vigorously demands answers; until those like myself who have voluntarily gone into exile in search of lucrative opportunities have returned to politically and peacefully consent with those who have held onto economic power.
When we successfully carry out our responsibility to revisit the constitution and reconstruct laws, which protect the inability to redistribute wealth, as it should. After we grow intolerant of inequality when those who put us in office beg for equality. Only then, will the brave nation be economically emancipated!
It is admirable to witness reformation in local politics. Our liberators are slowly and peacefully leaving the political landscape. It is commendable and I boast with pride to say I am a patriotic citizen of a nation, which not only preaches democracy, but who practices it. Soon, we shall return from exile to take charge of a peaceful and stable nation and gear it towards economic prosperity, until then… Aluta Continua!
Taloshili Olavi Hangula
University of Rochester, New York, USA