OPINION: The essence of Nelson Mandela Day lies in creating opportunities for economic growth centred around those who continue to be disenfranchised.
THE ESSENCE of Nelson Mandela International Day (or Mandela Day) lies in striving to turn all our communities whether rural or urban into breeding grounds for victory against poverty, unemployment and inequality.
It lies in creating opportunities for economic growth centred around those who continue to be disenfranchised even as we celebrate this global icon.
As the rural KwaSokhulu-born (near Richards Bay, KZN) Lalela Mswane, 25, crowned Miss South Africa 2021 and who was placed second runner-up in Miss Universe 2021, went on to become Miss Supranational on Friday night, the world witnessed the Madiba Legacy bearing fruits.
That was also the case when Zozibini Tunzi, 28, from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape, who was crowned Miss South Africa in 2019, went on to become Miss Universe in the same year.
It was again the case when South African DJ Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, who goes by the stage name Black Coffee, won the Grammy Award for the Best Dance/Electronic Album ‘Subconsciously’ earlier this year.
All such examples spread all over South Africa’s democratic era, be it victories for individuals and collectives/teams, recognition of the excellent work and contributions of South Africans from all walks of life and indeed even the “least” of communities all bear testimony to what former President Nelson Mandela recently united with his assistant and comrade Yasmin “Jessie” Duarte as well as all our Struggle stalwarts from all parts of the country came together to fight for.
Their victory that brought about the honour such as Mandela Day, is proof that the Mandela Legacy set a solid foundation for all of us to build our own legacies in our own communities.
Last week, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana warned that the denial of communities of the basic services by local government as seen with the continued decay of service delivery made these communities a fertile breeding ground for economic strife and future instability.
The minister urged municipalities to meet the national government halfway in providing basic services by maintaining their infrastructure and spending their basic service delivery grants responsibly.
Godongwana also lamented the fact that more than half of the country’s 257 municipalities were bankrupt or insolvent thereby unable to pay creditors or even service their workers.
These manifest practically in our communities when our beloved like the Gauteng-based Alex FM’s music manager, Joshua Mbatha, affectionately known as DJ Josh, died at the young age of 32 years because he was shot during a robbery.
We witness it when teenagers as young as 13 die in taverns.
They should not even die in schools or at their homes because our nation awaits their own legacies.
We witness the impact of the lack of service delivery when people shoot people willy-nilly in the taverns.
The people of our communities should not be killed in any gang, taxi and political violence.
The country’s public safety institutions should not lack the capacity to hunt down criminals and gather evidence and secure their convictions before they claim another victim.
In a country that boasts Nelson Mandela’s legacy, crime investigation cannot be doubtful and unreliable.
The legal system cannot be manipulated by those in power or those who are rich to the disadvantage of the disenfranchised.
We should not allow our community health-care facilities and personnel to fail to efficiently prevent or heal diseases and save lives.
The sacrifices and hard work of our local entrepreneurs and community businesses cannot be frustrated by the country’s on-going power crisis.
Nor can the country’s employees and taxpayers work under very tough conditions because there perpetually is load shedding.
South Africa belongs to citizens who are creative.
They can compete meaningfully in all sectors anywhere else in this world because they possess the Madiba Magic.
Their distasteful past has taught them to work hard to make South Africa a country of great prospects.
However, it is unfathomable that most of the country’s youth are not in any education, employment and training. It is disappointing that most males who are of working age are in prison not because like Mandela, they are fighting for freedom.
They are there because they raped, robbed, abused and murdered.
They are there because they are fighting with the impact of a society that is not what it should be.
As the world celebrates Mandela Day, it is clear that it has a dire need to create an Economic Legacy.
At the heart of this legacy should be inclusive growth which will also be felt in our most disadvantaged communities.
This legacy must ensure that a child born on the 18th of July 2022 in any impoverished community, will have a decent home to grow up in, a warm meal everyday and safe and sufficient amenities that will aid his/her growth and development.
South Africa needs to do the work that will ensure that when this child reaches 18 in 2040, their future is indeed promising.
Madiba and his colleagues have fought hard to lay the foundations for this much needed Economic Legacy. Many other South Africans work hard generally under very difficult conditions to try to make their own contribution in that regard.
Building the Economic Legacies of our own communities is the duty of every community member regardless of their position or conviction.
It starts with not only protecting ourselves but also those who cannot protect themselves.
It lies in businesses not exploiting its workers and consumers to go through the current economic storm.
This legacy depends on politicians who arrest their own greed and public officials who do not steal from the taxpayers and communities.
As we await the return of our very own Lalela Mswane, the reigning Miss Supranational to the country and communities, we should not do so to suck her and many others to an economically condemned environment.
The start of building an Economic Legacy that a child born today will be ensuring that the next time Mswane sets her foot at her home village of KwaSokhulu or tour other similar areas throughout the country, she does not step on dry ground but rather construction sites of schools, libraries, roads and all amenities that will turn our communities into an Economic Promise Land.
May when the local womens’ football club-Banyana Banyana that recently qualified for the 2023 Fifa World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, not return to receive bonuses that they cannot spend in their own communities that lack many fine things enjoyed by their counterparts in the developed countries.
May the legacies of our modern day stars fuse with that of the iconic Madiba.
Where they do, our communities will experience the Mzansi Magic that allows our economy to thrive meaningfully and be enjoyed by all in the next decades.