From Tweets to the Streets: Mzansi must RISE

South Africans urged to rise from comfort, engage in activism beyond social media, demand accountability, and actively participate in governance.
Published on
April 4, 2024

The Middle Class Dilemma: Privilege and Responsibility

The trouble with South Africa’s middle class is that for as long as we are able to financially insulate ourselves from the continual decay of public services, activism remains yet another thing to be contracted to NGOs and civil society groups, to manage on our behalf. Our time is so valuable, it affords us private healthcare, private schooling, private security, private power supply and very soon, private water. And we just absolutely cannot afford to march because we do not have the luxury of time, because our damn taxes should afford us a functional state!

The Erosion of Buying Power and Social Responsibility

The reality we have to reckon with, however, is the gradual erosion of the buying power of the Rand. One only need look at the 96 (ninety-six!) month finance deals on offer for a vehicle [a depreciating asset] and school fees significantly higher than the monthly mortgage for some, to realise just how far we are having to stretch our monthly budgets, to sustain the quality of life government should deliver for all citizens.

Beyond Intellectual Reasoning: Action and Leadership

Even with the power of the vote, there is always some well-formulated intellectual reason for the right to withhold the vote as a form of protest. So beautiful is the South African Constitution as to guarantee such freedoms. But for how long will we sit on the sidelines, lamenting on X (formerly Twitter) the death of children drowned in pit latrines and uninhabitable structures posing as homes engulfed in flames, burning to ashes all worldly possessions along with broken dreams?

Embracing Mandela's Wisdom: Time to Act

The governing party seems assured of their “rule until Jesus comes.” Is that what we are waiting for, the Messiah? Or another Nelson Mandela-type character to capture the hearts and minds of the electorate across the demographic spectrum? Might I remind us of some profound words of wisdom he left us with; “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Everyday Activism: From Voting to Volunteering

But what exactly does doing right look like? Not all of us can be activists or politicians, right? But leadership and accountability are a culmination of the ways in which we show up for the collective good in our everyday lives. Doing right looks like volunteering your time to sit in school governing bodies, so that you can be at the table where decisions are made about your children’s schooling experience. It looks like attending community townhall meetings to hold elected representatives accountable. It looks like volunteering as a trustee for your body corporates so you can actively be involved in delivering a good quality of life for your community scheme members. It looks like a monthly donation of as little as R50 to a political movement whose values best align with your own. When needs be, it looks like taking to the streets while we tweet! Very importantly, it looks like going out in our numbers and casting a vote, come 29 May 2024, to elect new leaders committed to delivering a South Africa that affords all its citizens a dignified quality of life.

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