The elections have come and gone, and we now call Jacob Zuma Mr President.
I am now, officially, living under the leadership of a man who came under intense pressure from a public trial and a test of character at the hand of South African media and civil society, most recently through a new communication medium – blogs.
I find myself obsessively following the blogs of online news publications, so as to tap into the mindset of South Africans.
The blog’s discussions are fascinating, not least because of the way users, with their identities hidden, unleash torrents of abuse against each other. With racial slurs and put-downs, users try to out-do each other with their profound insights into politics and the functions of government.
Some comments are witty and quite clever, but for the most part I have found the general sentiment coming out of blogs is a desperate need for healing.
The blogs have an uncanny way of revealing unresolved resentment that many still harbour after 15 years of democracy. And this resentment isn’t going away by itself.
As toxic as they may be, these blogs may be just what we need. They allow many South Africans to get their negativity out of their systems and into the open, hopefully making space for something geared towards a positive outlook on this country.
South Africans are forgetting that we actually have a stable country right now, in the midst of a global recession. And now we have a new president, whether we like him or not, let’s just get on with it – let’s resolve the serious issues we have as a people.
Recently, the Gauteng provincial government narrowly managed to avert what would have been South Africa’s biggest industrial action to date, with about 54 000 municipal workers having planned a solidarity strike in support of bus drivers, who had been striking for six weeks.
The doctors and nurse’s strike, which still needs to be resolved, involves similarly routine issues: increased wages and better working conditions.
These are things we all expect from our jobs. And they are entrenched in Section 10 of the constitutional Bill of Rights: “Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.”
This new strike season can’t come as a shock to the new government. South Africans voted to improve their lives and, when this doesn’t happen, they take to the streets to protest.
The sooner we get on with the business of running the country, the better chance we have of showing the world what we are capable of – performing miracles where none are expected.
At this time, when sceptics are predicting that the country will fall apart, South Africans must work to prove them wrong.
The time to tear each other up is certainly not now, nor do I ever foresee a time that will be right for destructive engagement, which doesn’t further the collective cause of each and every South African.
As South Africans we want to be safe in our homes, on the streets and in our cars. We want job security, an efficient health system, and a quality education for our children. We want a place we can call home, that’s not leaking when it rains, and that’s not a furnace when it’s hot and a mortuary when it’s cold.
The government is under pressure to deliver on its promises. But we can play a part by not only maintaining that pressure, but also by simply getting on with the work that needs to be done.
Khanyi Magubane is a journalist, published poet, radio broadcaster and fiction writer. She writes for MediaClubSouth Africa, and brings with her an eclectic mix of media experience. She’s worked as a radio journalist for stations including Talk Radio &702 and the youth station YFM, where she was also a news anchor. She’s been a contributing features writer in a number of magazines titles including O magazine and Y mag. She’s also a book reviewer and literary essayist, published in the literary journal Wordsetc. Magubane is also a radio presenter at SAfm, where she hosts a Sunday show. She’s currently also in the process of completing the manuscript of her first novel, an extract of which has been published in Wordsetc.