To move forward, ‘we must acknowledge apartheid’s legacy’


14 February 2014

For South Africa to move forward, it is important to acknowledge that the legacy of apartheid is the cause of the structural challenges that the country is now facing, says President Jacob Zuma.

Speaking at a business briefing in Cape Town on Friday, after delivering his State of the Nation address in Parliament on Thursday evening, Zuma said South Africa could not continue to deny that apartheid and colonialism were the root of the country’s problems.

Citing the legacy of the 1913 Land Act and Bantu education, among other apartheid institutions, he said this was the context that had to be considered when criticising the government on its response to the country’s socio-economic challenges.

“Many people ask, why do we keep talking about apartheid, as it was there and is no longer there … The triple challenge of joblessness, poverty and inequality today emanates from the day the black people of this country . woke up one day after owning land and were told, ‘You have no land’ … And that is when inequalities were born.”

While a lot has been achieved over the past 20 years, the challenges remained bigger and a lot still needed to be done to overcome the triple challenge, he said.

Despite this, the country was moving forward, Zuma said, reiterating his message from Thursday night’s address that South Africa “has a good story to tell”.

Despite the effects of 2008-09 global financial crisis and the recession that followed, the country had created more jobs than before while expanding social grants, housing and basic services.

The service delivery protests that had broken recently out in various communities around the country were in most cases caused by people seeing progress in other areas and becoming impatient for services to reach them, Zuma said.

While calling on citizens to exercise their right to protest in a peaceful manner, Zuma said that all those in positions of power should give more attention to the protests to address their root causes.

Zuma said the re-configuration of the administration had yielded good results – including the introduction of the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Department to track performance on a continuous basis, and the introduction of the National Planning Commission to ensure that the government was able to do long-term planning.

He added that the Cabinet’s decision to focus on five key priorities – job creation, education, health, safety and security and rural development and land reform – had ensured that the public service implemented its programmes in a more focused manner.