Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The South African Enclosure Movement

Just looking at the past 20 years.

I don't get it. I have so many neighbours who are not white. I work with so many people who are not white. Many of my closest friends are not white. There are whites living in townships. There are poor whites. This story doesn't sound any different to most other big cities around the world. Not that it makes it any better; it's just as bad. We just need perspective and perhaps The Guardian has forgotten about the elite in the UK and how it also (unfortunately) manipulates the system.

I do know is that many of these disadvantaged people now get many advantages that I am happy to pay towards, even though I myself am not entitled to them, except for the fact that about half of my payment is going to the new elite, the regime.

And I know many people who have positively used the education system to get somewhere, even people who started in townships, who made good.

Nelson Mandela himself became a lawyer in the Apartheid system and somehow people who benefited from the old system are forgotten. There has always been good and bad.

We need to try hard to focus on the good, especially the good of the past 20 years.

A 20 year old child has finally left teenage years and is starting life as an adult with adult responsibilities. South Africa is now at this stage ...

Some of the advantages that the "forgotten people" referred to in the article, get, are: free or almost free: housing, education (I can't help it that people sell these houses and then move back into shacks, but as the article says, at least they can trade from the shacks, and so there is an amazing black market operating in townships), medicine, hospitals, water, electricity, rates, transport, welfare grants, grants for adults and children, and incredibly the new IRT transport system whilst it has been built through my area to the poor areas around me, has had its number of busses serving my area reduced and some of my friends who were catching the bus are now driving to work. Incredible that these taxpayers are paying for the bus service, but again are not able to make use of it.

It all sounds like the Enclosure Movement which started in Britain and was part of the Industrial Revolution. And this has recently happened in Bangladesh where "poor" people who had all the food, housing, etc, they could ever need, have now been impoverished by the Tiger Prawn industry and now these "poor" people really are poor. They have nothing, not even ownership of their land.

Sounds pretty much like the way the whole world is, its just that in South Africa it was done under a name which separated blacks and whites, whereas in other countries it was done based on a separation between elite and other groups, who became poorer because of it, but even though they are poor, they still have things that the rich didn't have 200 years ago: separate bedrooms; hot water; sewerage; education; and much else.

Poor in the 21st Century is so different to in any other century. Yes it is bad, and we can still work towards making it better, really the only way to make poor people rich is to remove "enclosures", level the playing fields, allow everyone to compete in an even environment. And a way to kick-start this is with Renewable Energy, which naturally forces decentralisation, but that is against the current legal framework in South Africa, which moves more and more towards centralisation, but in the ANC and in the DA. Decision making which was by committee is now by minister, opening the way for even more discretion, and therefore even more corruption.

Well that's how it is. I still love living in Cape Town and I will work towards making it a better place. And I know that one thing that South Africa will always have, which is buried at the moment, is the Defiance Campaign, and I pray that soon, this will come to light again, in the way that Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would like, peacefully, but with intent.

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