Editor's Note - Opportunity 57

In an ideal world

Tracee Harvard
Tracee photo.jpg
It’s three months into 2013 and South Africa has been in the spotlight for a variety of reasons, not all of them good – and, in fact, some of them quite bad.
If Dr Mamphela Ramphele was serious in her speech about a rekindled passion for a better and far more prosperous and equal South Africa, her words must have been drowned out by the reports of rape and murder streaked across the country; not forgetting how her speech was overshadowed by the tragic and sad tale of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp.
Of course, in among all of this has been the delivery of the president's State of the Nation Address and the annual Budget Speech, which hasn't been incredibly surprising in terms of the outcomes. 
Ramphele’s speech resonated with the idealist in me, but I have to ask what her new political party is going to do – or not do – that current political parties haven’t already tried? What makes her heartfelt appeal to all South Africans – to hold hands and steadfastly push back the corruption, the inequality, the abuse and the greed – better than any of the promises we have heard from other political party members? Just because she has left the corporate arena doesn’t mean anything, does it?
I would back Ramphele 100%, but I am not sure she has the kind of clout that is necessary to make the changes we all want.
She tapped into the psyche of the typical South African who wants all the good things of which she spoke: equality,  fairness, justice and economic stability. Anybody would be inspired to follow her. But we have been promised all these good things for 20 years and the current government has still not got it right despite the many chances it has been given.
Despite the great speech she made, I am wondering if her efforts were for naught. If she can inspire a movement where the sentence for raping someone was incredibly high; if she can inspire stricter policies whereby corruption has no place in the public and private sector; if she can intensify gun laws so innocent children are not slain outside their homes; if she can provide jobs for the poor and proper medical facilities for those who need it; if public servants can be held to the same level of accountability as an ordinary citizen; if she can show us how it’s really meant to be done – then I will take my hat off to her.
It wasn’t too many days after Ramphele had given her speech when Pistorius’ life changed forever. He’s guilty. For what? Premeditated murder or manslaughter – his life as we know it is over.
His story reveals in us something that holds more darkness than light. Ramphele isn’t wrong in her idealism, but the paradox of her speech is all the wrong that has recently occurred. It seems impossible. Her job is far too big for one person, regardless of how many stand with her.
I wish her luck in her endeavours, I do. I just don’t envy her right now. There is currently a lot more wrong with our country than there is right, which is going to make it hard in the long run for our country to garner any investor support.
Then again, if Dr Ramphele does get it right – and here’s hoping she does – let’s hope we start seeing results sooner rather than later.
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