The ability to live in the face of poverty is a true testament of the courage and will of South Africans.
More so, I salute the millions of women who head up households as single parents and looking after their unemployed children who bring home a string of grandchildren who will also live in the same state of poverty their parents find themselves in.
While its easy to say, heck, you can work your way out of poverty because many people bare testimony to overcoming difficult childhoods and become success story of this day an age.
The question is, is it really possible for everyone to leap over the gates of poverty brought on by generations of their family and find themselves grazing on the grass patch that is greener on the other side?
This is a question that constantly tugs at my conscious as I encounter people living in dire straits of poverty all across South Africa, from one township to another.
Certainly there are structural problems that exist and keep black South Africans tied to the chains poverty, poor education, unemployment and lack of service delivery can affect in every way the outcome of ones life.
While my life has not been handed to me on a silver platter, the countless opportunities that my family gave me at a good education and the ability to pursue my dreams coupled with ambition have certainly contributed to the life I live today.
But what of those who don’t have the same opportunities?
Sadly the South African government does not see how their inability to provide basic service delivery to ordinary South African has contributed to poverty.
The water crisis that has been in the spotlight this week, is yet another example in which we see the government has missed the ball when it comes to understanding and providing for the basic needs of its people.
Community members of places like Section 17 in the township of Tsakane are so used to having their access to water cut-off that they see the situation as a normal way of life.
When the Democratic Alliance stepped in to provide them with water, they were met with angry ANC members of the community who said they will not accept their assistance.
The reality is South Africans are accustomed to complacency and poverty. They will fight, march, burn tires and shoot at government officials in demand for basic services. But cannot imagine voting for any other political party than the one that fails them and will not accept a helping hand from anyone else.
Certainly the response from Nomvula Makonyane, water and sanitation minister, has led many to scratch their heads and ask themselves, “are these people serious?”
Failing to see the deep seated problems such as old infrastructure, lack of skills and basic negligence has caused this crisis. She perched from her high seat of office and blamed it on a simple “technical problem” suggesting of course that once the technical problem is addressed, the water crisis will finally be resolved.
More astounding is her response when buckling under pressure to account for the crisis because of media scrutiny and public outcry,
‘”She has been capped from speaking to media for the next month until the matter is resolved. She believes that responding to sensationalism will distract her from doing her job,” said her spokesperson.
While she lets us believe she is scrambling a super team to address the water crisis. I imaging her taking a weekend off to a spa resort to massage the stress from her temples for reasons either than to help herself think.
Certainly whatever magic she manages to cook up to cover up this cock up, one thing is clear.
South Africans truly and honestly have no power.
And whatever little power they have, they do not have the wisdom to use it effectively. For these reasons, the ruling party will remain in power and poor South Africans will remain at the short hand of the stick.
In my curiosity I asked Frida Masango, a 52-year-old resident of Tsakane, why it is that South Africans keep voting for the ANC despite the blatant lack of service delivery that is being provided, she believes her loyalty is correctly placed.
“I do it because they brought us freedom. I do it in memory of Mandela,”
Surely this response has become somewhat of a tape recorded replay that citizens such as Frida say when posed with this challenge. Perhaps she does not see the link between her blind loyalty and the dire situation in which she finds herself.
One would imagine that a paradigm shift is needed to transform the thinking of South Africans so that they can see that certainly there is hope for another way of life. If they let go of their fears and simply tried to direct their thinking towards the possibilities of a country governed by a new set of leaders, that if not certainly but maybe things would change.
But, despite all the challenges, it seems the impetus needed to cause this paradigm shift is still unknown.