God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

And again: the race question…

South Africa experienced yesterday the drama of the resignation of Mmusi Maimane from the main opposition party in the National Parliament of South Africa. Comments before and during – and even now after the resignation – are a mix of speculations, indications, accusations and controversies –  add the resignations of Athol Trollip and Herman Mashaba and one could assume that a political party is in meltdown after a disappointing election result and lots of internal fights in the last year.

What really catches my attention is the bitterness and almost fundamentalism when it comes to the question of race, the question how to attract black South Africans to vote for a party which is portrait in debates and news often as too white. Party politics and the egos of those concerned are surely a factor, but I guess what really bring theses events to the forefront is another question which is indeed a decisive one for the whole of the country:

How do I eliminate the question of race for the future without forgetting the injustices of the past and the necessary redress in the current time?

It sounds like the squaring the circle – but this is the question it boils to at the end. While most political parties in South Africa put their focus on redress and correcting the past – claiming this the only way for the way forward – even if this  would create new injustices and hardship – little effort is seen in creating an atmosphere where all three aspects are coming together.
The frustration of most young people, the mood of most South Africans, the hurt of each and every South African in one or the other way, the pitfalls of corruption and state capture; the infighting in all political parties seemingly ignoring the plight of the people – it all creates a conductive scenario for quick fixes satisfying emotions in the short term using the tools of the past.

South Africa will only get it right, if politicians combine redress with a new vocabulary, looking back inter-twining it with striving for a just and non-racist future – creating the miracle of acknowledging hurt and healing in a just framework and creating tools and language, which overcome the perspective of the past without ignoring it.
If this realization is the result of the events of the last days and taken as a challenge for our society – then these events might turn into a blessing for South Africa

Filed under: Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , ,

Amnesty?!

There are a lot of foreigners in this country – South Africa is for most people fleeing violence and persecution in Africa a safe heaven of some sort – and obviously the borders are so porous that it is much easier to flee to South Africa than to Europe. This has not always been welcomed in the last years – the periodically xenophobic attacks, most recently in Pretoria and Johannesburg, show how sensitive the topic is and how fast the mood can change. Obviously there is a lot of politics involved – be it quite insensitive comments of the Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba, be it economic considerations because immigrants often work harder to achieve their dreams opposite the entitlement and despair of South Africans in the perspective neighborhoods; or be it simply jealousy and opportunism stretching to pure criminality.

There is definitely no question that a country has the right to control influx of foreigners and to secure the borders – but looking at the current situation where there is a mix of illegal immigrants, unwilling Home Affairs officials, corrupt border officials and so many small or bigger injustices in dealing with those knocking on South Africa’s door my solution would be besides looking in a fair manner at all sides of the story to give a period of grace, an amnesty to legalize all those who are now in the country.

It would not only remedy  the situation but also would give those politically in charge and the administration a fair overview to know who is in the country. It would stop the hiding and the stress of those trying to make a living and it would undermine the often corrupt relationship between foreigner, refugee and those officially in charge of keeping them in or out for a good reason.

Flanked by a strengthening of the policing of the border and an effective system to avoid a further undocumented influx from the rest of Africa this would be the first step to calm down the situation and to be fair to all concerned.  It would show grace and mercy, but also a clear cut line for the future. It would make the lives of hundred-thousands of human beings acknowledged and valued – and it would show the rest of the world that there is a way to show a mix of mercy and justice mitigating a difficult past in the last years.

 

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

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