23 May, 2014

20 years on yet there’s more to be done


By Siyamthanda Capa

On the 27th April 1994 South Africans queued at voting stations to cast their vote for the very first time a miraculous moment for all. Twenty years into democracy, are we making progress or are we losing the plot?

It is of no uncertainty that South Africa is a better place to live in now than it was in 1994.

Indeed, as South Africans, we’ve come a long way. Gone are the days when a majority of South Africans were refused the right to vote; now they have the right to choose not to vote at all.

The long awaited 1994 election came, promises were made and expectations were raised. The ANC Manifesto 1994 focused mainly on improving the quality of life and promotined a democratic South Africa.

So did they deliver?

The first post-apartheid Census was conducted in 1996, according to Statistics South Africa, 60.7% of South Africans had access to running water. In 2011 73.4% had access to running water. Numbers show that the living conditions of 14.3% of South Africans were improved. What about the 27.6% with no running water?

In 1994 the unemployment rate was 20%, however, in 2014, the unemployment rate stands at 25.2%.  It’s no news that in terms of employment, the government has failed South Africa’s youth.

In the public sphere too, things have changed. The press was promised freedom, but in April 2013, South Africans saw the Protection of State Information Bill passed in parliament.

So do we have anything at all to celebrate?

The question was posed once again in an interesting debate on Interface. The discussion went on, however, at the end of the debate, presenter Tembisa Marele was left without an answer.

“Our government has done an exceptional job in rolling out policies and offering citizens a good legal framework, however they face a challenge when it comes to implementing them” said Sisonke Msimang who is Director of advocacy for the Sonke Gender and Justice.

South Africa has come a long way and a lot is yet to be done but the question still stands: To celebrate or not to celebrate? Twenty years into democracy are you as an individual satisfied with the quality of services you receive from our government?

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