By Patrick F. Suttle
AZAPO (Azanian People’s Organization) Youth League President Amukelni Ngobeni on Monday made bold and what some believe to be disrespectful statements about Nelson Mandela. He said that Mandela needs to step up and apologize for “selling out black people’s struggle”. This statement was based on the fact that Mandela held secret talks with the apartheid government prior to his release from prison in 1993.
In the statement Ngobeni said. “Many of his friends did not get the opportunity to apologise before they died and he must consider himself lucky and use this opportunity for his soul to rest peacefully, before its too late.” He bases his opinion on his belief that South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world. Despite her vast natural wealth Ngobeni said, “we remain not in charge of all this because Mandela could not wait to be the first black president of the country.
The Azapo Youth League President went on to say that. “What is peace and reconciliation when people are dying of hunger? What is peace and reconciliation when people are jobless without hope? What does peace and reconciliation bring to a country where children learn under trees and without books?”
These remarks do have an element of truth but can they be placed at the feet of the former President who has not been an active participant in the political arena for more than ten years?
At the core of this controversy exists a deep divide between those who yield political power and that young hungry group of intellectuals who stand poised to make their mark in politics. The ANC (African National Congress) has yet to voice an opinion on this matter. As the majority party in the country the ANC has just completed the expulsion process of its controversial youth league president Julius Malema. In a media frenzy he was expelled from the party on grounds that his rhetoric and off the cuff comments brought the party into disrepute.
The political landscape in South Africa is fueled by the racial overtones of a media establishment still connected to the remnants of the apartheid government. The ANC lead government continues to be heavy handed with those who speak out against what some feel to be a corrupt group of leaders who cater to their extravagant lifestyle at the expense of those who are in desperate need. The media continues to manipulate and exploit the situation while the country’s coffers are used as a slush fund for the politically connected.
The educational system is in shambles and that has a direct impact on the youth. There are no sustainable efforts to develop a workforce capable of competing in a global economy. In a country with vast reserves of precious metals and various other natural resources there should exist tremendous opportunities for economic growth and development.
In order for this to happen there must be a symbiotic relationship between the fresh and innovative ideas of the youth combined with the mature and wise experience that comes with age. Back and forth political banter only serves to disrupt and stifle ideas that could lead to the development of a system that addresses the needs of society in a holistic manner.