Biznews community member Peter Rossfour is a retired Management/Marketing Consultant. He’s also an author, having written the Potential Awareness Corporate training program and books such as The Supreme Bloody Joker, The Jesus Parallel and GULLIVER. This is his dream for South Africa in 2017. – Stuart Lowman
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” – Seven Pillars of Wisdom Ch. 1 – T.E. Lawrence (1888 – 1935) British soldier and writer, better known as Lawrence of Arabia.
After reading Alec Hogg, Thuli Madonsela, Glynnis Carthy, Zwelinzima Vavi, James Myburgh, and Pieter Cronje, among others’ "dream" for South Africa I was reminded of what that intrepid, amazing man, T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, wrote about dreaming, compelling me to use his words as an anchor for this article because it is so appropriate for the prevailing social and political situation in South Africa at the moment.
Whilst I admire and have sympathy for the dreams aspired for for this country by those mentioned and several others, and I find it admirable and commendable, I find that reality intrudes on the dreams, as reality tends to intrude on life.
Whilst we can all dream that South Africa in 2017 will become a better place to live and prosper in, the present prevailing situation, unless soon changed drastically, will conspire to make 2017 an even worse year than 2016. Our Constitution, powerful tool to protect our democracy, is unfortunately not fool-proof. Certain provisions made at its inception with Nelson Mandela in mind, used as a yardstick, unfortunately have now boomeranged, allowing Jacob Zuma a free hand in raping the country’s resources. But all is not lost, the Constitution is not cast in stone, it can be amended. It must be remembered that it is this country’s first ever attempt to become a true democracy ruled by the will of the people. It stands to reason that our first democratic Constitution cannot be perfect. Perfection comes with time.
A sterling example is the Constitution of the United States. Since coming into force in 1789, it has been amended twenty seven times in order to meet the changing needs of a growing and evolving nation profoundly different from the eighteenth century world in which it was first created. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were all centred around specific protection of individual liberty and justice, placing restrictions on the powers of government. What makes it such a powerful document is that in essence it was created and amended to protect the people of the country and shield them from abuse and misuse by the powers of government. Its first three words, We the people, affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. It has remained in force for over two centuries, precisely because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, and of liberty and equality.
In South Africa at the moment, We the people¸ have no say in how government is run and even less in curtailing its numerous excesses. Our Constitution needs to be amended to restrict the executive powers of the President, for instance. It has to be trimmed and tailored to give more protection to the citizens of the country, and less to the elected members of parliament, who, once elected have no obligation to report back to the people they represent or to look after their interests, save their often greedy own.
What makes it extremely difficult to have a dream for South Africa is of course our past history, as well as the make–up of our citizens. With an overwhelmingly black majority (nearly ten times the size of the whites) who largely have been subjected to, in the words of Madonsela, “accumulated socio-economic disadvantages engineered by the history of exclusion and oppression based on race, gender, disability and other irrational stratification” and led to believe by the likes of Zuma and Malema in stirring election speeches that they will be given jobs, free homes, and free electricity, among other things, expectantly waiting for the promised coming of Utopia, but in reality badly let down, witness the severe lack of service delivery in municipalities run by the ANC, the situation at ground level is volatile, to put it mildly. How can one even find a remotely practical dream for these people in an economy that has been bled dry by rampant corruption and brought to the brink of junk status? And this applies as well to the tens of thousands of jobless and homeless whites living in squatter camps, and in some provinces, on the beaches.
How do you even try and ensure they are granted “basic human rights such as the right to equality, human dignity, access to food, access to health, access to education, access to social security and basic human freedoms”?
What kind of dream do you conjure up for nearly half of the population with no work and no income and absolutely no hope of finding a job or realizing even a meagre earning?
How do you dream that an economy that has been raped through wholesale corruption and bribery and maladministration, allowed to stagnate through lack of vision and foresight, virtually teetering on the brink of collapse, will suddenly pick itself up and become vibrant and self-sustaining, straining at the bit?
Dare one dream of an education system that will ensure that all the people of the country have access to affordable, value-based primary as well as tertiary education institutions, for the betterment of our nation? That will become a leveller of inequality and circumstance, allowing all to aspire to personal growth and achievement and not be excluded because of the lack of funds or opportunity? Could such a dream be remotely possible in the present education system that has become a joke, lying in tatters through maladministration, lack of understanding, forward planning and vision, and crippled through wholesale bribery, corruption, ghost-tenders and bogus suppliers? Where the ludicrous “Fees must Fall!” campaign instigated by political opportunists, have caused millions of rands of damage to our once reputable tertiary institutions? Where irreplaceable libraries are burnt down by vandalistic no-brain “students”? Can one still dream under such circumstances?
And dare one dream, like Thuli Madonsela, “In my resolute faith in humanity and hope in the power of our shared love for the people of South Africa, I see President Zuma putting South Africa above self and politics by, among others, accepting that constitutional democracy dictates that the Public a Protector or any other competent authority can cause him to do what he must when he is not doing so”, that Jacob Zuma will come to his senses and not destroy South Africa in the coming year?
The dreamer will say yes, the realist robustly state it is a pipe-dream.
I am afraid this is where the distinction in the quote of Lawrence, “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” very much comes to the fore. The dreams of Thuli, as much as I admire and respect her, and the others mentioned in the beginning of this article, unfortunately must be classified under the “vanity” section of the quote. Zuma, Malema, Rhamaphosa, Gwede Mantashe, Dodo Myeni, Motsoeneng, Moyene, and the like, fall under the “dreamers of the day”, and must be seen as, and treated as such. They are dangerous, and a distinct threat to the continued wellbeing of South Africa and its people.
Dreams are admirable, good intentions even more so, but reality rules the roost. A sobering reminder is that as noble a document as the American Declaration of Independence may be, the man, Thomas Jefferson, who penned, ”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”, was the owner of several slaves and had no intention of freeing or compensating them. As did his counterpart and co-composer, Benjamin Franklin and other signatories of the declaration, causing a leading abolitionist of the day, Thomas Day, to write, “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.”
Unfortunately, dreams of a Utopian South Africa are unattainable.
So must we therefore abandon all our dreams? Accept reality and be done with it?
No. A man, or a country, or a nation, without a dream is a lost cause. But we have to underpin our dreams with a touch of reality. We know for us to change our Constitution is going to be a major undertaking, especially as the ANC hold the majority of seats in parliament and the present system makes it easy for the elected representatives to abuse the system and enrich themselves. But we can’t abandon the dream, we simply have to undertake it, no matter how difficult or impossible it may seem. I dream that we as South Africans will take hands and live up to our icon, Nelson Mandela’s famous saying:
“IT ALWAYS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE UNTIL IT’S DONE.”
Is there any hope that in the future we will have a strong vibrant economy that will create jobs, not shed them by the thousands? Looking at the present situation the answer has to be a resounding NO, but fortunately we have the future beckoning. The answer lies in how we are going to tackle the future. Careful planning, serious consultation between business and government has to be instituted post haste, plausible scenarios have to be developed and built upon, far-reaching game plans have to be thought off, and every partner in the game has to be willing to sacrifice in open transparent actions that will benefit not only industry and business, but also the people and the country. I dream that we will live up to what Mandela believed so fervently:
“MONEY WON’T CREATE SUCCESS, THE FREEDOM TO MAKE IT WILL.”
It’s an incontestable fact that education is the cornerstone of any country aspiring to greatness. It’s also an indisputable fact that our education system is basically non-existent. A current Matric pass being equal to that of a pre-1994 Standard Four pass is not only shocking, but totally self-defeating. The newest change that a pupil only needs a 30% aggregate to pass Matric is sheer madness. How will such a pupil ever cope with a tertiary curriculum? It’s precisely this kind of thinking that has led to the complete overcrowding of our present tertiary institutions where 60 % of students drop out in their first year. What a waste of resources and time, not to mention money. And they clamour and demand, violently, that tertiary education should be free. And to shield himself and live another day, Jacob Zuma foolishly caved in to these crazy demands and promised free education for all when the economy is strained to the limit just to stave off junk status. Running universities is expensive, running it successfully needs even more money, money the country does not have, seeing the Guptas for instance, apparently with the help of Zuma, smuggled over 6 BILLION RAND across our borders to a bank in India. Where will the money come from to offer free education? It’s as implausible as its crazy. And then there’s the other aspect to it, anything given free is seldom appreciated. Should it ever happen that tertiary education is completely free to all and sundry I predict the first year dropout rate will rise to 80%.
So how do we dream about a better education system with the present government in power? We have to appeal to the university authorities to stand firm and not cave in to outrageous demands as they did at UCT. We appeal to parents wishing to see their children receive proper and meaningful tutelage to not climb on the futile “Fees must Fall” bandwagon but instead try to bolster the universities’ finance departments and pay the fees due. Nothing in this world is completely free.
I dream that we will embody Mandela’s maxim:
“EVERYONE CAN RISE ABOVE THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES AND ACHIEVE SUCCESS IF THEY ARE DEDICATED TO AND PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT THEY DO"
And then, and only then, will we realise the wisdom of his words:
“EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.”
And how can we even dream of stopping Zuma and his evil clan from raping the country, bleeding it until its dry, in 2017? He seems to be more firmly entrenched than ever. His acolytes sit snugly in their well-heeled and overpaid positions of power in SAA, SARS, PRASA, the NPA, and the Mamparas (Hawks), among others. And the top echelons of the ANC are afraid to move against him lest they lose their lucrative places at the gravy table and their prime snouting spots.
I dream that somehow we will be able to stop Zuma from purging the NEC of the ANC to get rid of his critics and with the aid of some miracle we will be able to stop him from reshuffling his cabinet to rid him of his nemesis, Gordhan Pravin, and finally capture the much-desired treasury.
I dream that we will all stand together, regardless of race, colour, or creed, and realize one of Nelson Mandela’s greatest pieces of infinite wisdom:
“FOR TO BE FREE IS NOT MERELY TO CAST OFF ONE’S CHAINS, BUT TO LIVE IN A WAY THAT RESPECTS AND ENHANCES THE FREEDOM OF OTHERS.”
And how do we go about ensuring that every South African sees themselves as their own person, their own agent in a free country, and always heedful of their neighbour’s needs and aspirations, as well as their own?
How do we change the negative attitude that is sweeping our beloved country, causing its citizens to live in fear and despair instead of hope, peace, and prosperity? How do we get South Africa back on track to pursue the Rainbow Nation Mandela dreamt about and fought for all his life?
How do we go about eliminating the carefully propagated spate of racism driving us apart when we should celebrate our unity? How do we erase the notion of some feeling superior over others because of race, age, gender, inherited status, sexual affiliation and orientation, religious preference, ethnicity, perceived “class”, political affiliation and privilege, or disease and disability? How do we discern between “fake” news designed to cause racial tension among other things, and real facts that will make us realise we are one people?
I dream that we will all respect the parameters and conditions of our Constitution, the rule of law and order, the rights and needs of others, the right to speak freely without fear of reprisal, the right to earn a decent living and care for our families, to develop our potential fully, to have enough compassion to care for those in need, to respect our elders and care for them, conduct our affairs with respect and dignity, and have justifiable reason to be proud South Africans, doing justice to our proud heritage.
I dream that political parties such as the DA will flourish and honour their promise of transparent, honest governance, that organisations such as the Helen Suzman Foundation, AgriForum, Save South Africa, for instance, and sterling individuals like Paul O’Sullivan, will carry on to ceaselessly fight corruption at every level, and that in this year we will place Jacob Zuma behind bars where he rightfully belongs.
I dream that we will all work together towards creating a state free of corruption and nepo-tism, that we will all do our part to try and contain, if not eradicate, poverty, erase inequality, abolish racism, avoid pettiness, be open-minded, generous, and kind.
I dream that “the dreamers of the day” like Johan Rupert and Christo Wiese, who have acted “their dream with open eyes” for decades to the benefit of South Africa and its people, will keep on making “it possible” and inspire others to follow in their footsteps, and that they, and others like them, will join hands with Pravin Gordhan to oust the “dangerous day dreamers” like Zuma, Abrahams, Moyane, Myeni, Motsoeneng, van Rooyen, the Guptas, and the like, who with open eyes rape our country on a daily basis, and that they will help the people take back the country and build it into the power-house of Africa, to the benefit of all its people.
And finally I dream that the immortal words, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!” of Martin Luther King, will become the maxim of every single South African and that together we will strive to make South Africa a country where every single individual has the inalienable right to freedom, freedom of expression, religious preference, the opportunity to earn a decent living, own a home, have access to education for self and children, scope for self-improvement and prosperity, and the grace to live life with dignity and pride.
In closing I want to quote another of Mandela’s pearls of wisdom:
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death,”
So, in the final analysis, how does Lawrence’s words, “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” impact on South Africa?
The dreams of the “vanity” dreamers, myself included, are more than dreams, they are valid aspirations for a better life and a better country. They may not all be feasible, or practical, some may even be unattainable, but they are the ideas and ideals of erudite people who all have one common goal, to make South Africa a country that can take its place on the international stage with pride, head held high, a place where peace and prosperity reigns unfettered, a place in which to raise a family without fear, a haven of self-worth and self-pride and achievement, a strong, vibrant, homogenous nation of different race groups and ethnicity – truly Mandela’s Rainbow Nation – OUR South Africa!
But to achieve this we will have to eradicate the dangerous “dreamers of the day” who with “open eyes” are greedily destroying our beloved country. To accomplish this we will all have to, in some way or other, contribute to assist the noble day dream warriors of industry, business, and finance who, together with Pravin Gordhan, can take the fight to the usurpers of not only our economy, but also our dignity, pride, and resolve. Who can rout the enemy in their snouting trenches, and banish the leaders to life incarceration.
- Peter Rossfour is a retired Management/Marketing Consultant, author of the Potential Awareness Corporate training program, and books such as The Supreme Bloody Joker, The Jesus Parallel and GULLIVER. He lives with his wife on the East Coast in a seaside village.
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