We got ourselves into this mess by sleeping on the job
The Times Editorial: Former human rights activist Barney Pityana delivered a stinging rebuke to South Africans yesterday - one that should be heeded.
Speaking at a lecture to honour the anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett, in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, Pityana said South Africans could hold no one but themselves responsible for the problems besetting the nation.
"We must blame nobody but ourselves for the tragedy of our education system, a collapsing healthcare system, a bloated but inefficient civil service, pervasive crime, corruption that has become endemic . We have a government trapped in ideological blinkers that believes and behaves like it is unaccountable."
This, according to Pityana, is because most South Africans follow the ANC slavishly, even though they know the party has repeatedly dishonoured its election pacts with them.
He is, however harsh a messenger, absolutely correct in his assessment of where we find ourselves. The ANC has, since 1994, been the ruling party. It is likely to continue being so because South Africans persist in returning it to power.
They do so in spite of their widespread anger about the lack of progress in providing the very basic services that the constitution declares are rightfully theirs.
These are not luxuries, not special extras - they are basic citizens' rights: to education, to safety, to decent homes.
With restrained contempt, Pityana referred to President Jacob Zuma's reported attempts to turn his home village, Nkandla, into a burgeoning town.
For us, the citizenry, there is also a measure of contempt: "And, through it all, this nation is fast asleep," Pityana said.
There is a saying: "In a democracy, you get the leaders you deserve."
Many would agree with Pityana that we indeed have the leaders we deserve because we have become lax in fighting for our rights.