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Archive for April, 2013

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s colourful and controversial leader has died. His 14 years in power in which he championed the poor and fought to close the gap between the poor and the rich, saw him win four presidential elections, become the leader of Latin America’s left-wing bloc, and a major world figure.

While many may have laughed at his populist antics there is no denying the fact that he was very popular in his own country and around the world. He tuned into the spirit of the Arab Spring which has seen the poor of the world ready to rise up and overthrow national authorities. While the West may smugly pose democratic governance as the answer, they shouldn’t think themselves immune.

All over the world, the poor have had enough. When times are good they pay the price and when times are bad they pay the price. Western bankers have effectively brought the international economy to its knees and while they and their respective governments get to spend their way out of trouble, it is the poor worldwide who have had to tighten their belts and make do with less and less.

In South Africa we are seeing a rise in service delivery protests especially in areas scheduled for visits by political big wigs. Our poor have learnt the hard way. Those who throw the most stones get attention, while those opting for civilised appeals through governmental and non-governmental channels are ignored. What does this say about our South African democracy?

Recently Naren Bhojaram, President of the Consulting Engineers of South Africa (CESA), warned that corruption is paralysing South Africa and eating away at the moral fibre of our society. He said that all South Africans were collectively responsible for this situation. He added though that President Zuma could not be blamed for the corruption in South Africa, because his job is to create a platform for business to operate in an ethical, responsible way and for him and his government to lead in an ethical and responsible way.

While I agree that we are all collectively responsible for the situation in South Africa and that President Zuma has a duty to create a suitable business platform, I do not subscribe to the view that President Zuma cannot be blamed for the corruption. While President Zuma himself is not personally responsible for the  ineptitude and gross malfeasance that make the headlines, he is our leader and he needs to take a more decisive stand against the looters in our society who are doing their best to bring South Africa to its knees for their own selfish ends.

As the 2014 elections creep ever closer, President Zuma and his colleagues need to honestly assess the legacy they want to leave behind. The poor are getting angrier, and they have nothing left to lose. South Africans need to start working together to rebuild a sense of responsibility and accountability for our acts as individuals and as representatives of government, businesses and other organisations.

In addition, those of us working in the surveying, geomatics, remote sensing and GIS sectors understand the power of the tools and technology at our disposal. We need to be using them as weapons in the fight for the progress and economic development of all South Africans.

 

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