Vol 1: Issue 1
7 October 2022
FROM SERVICE DELIVERY TO LIBERATION PROMISE
So much social engineering has taken place in the era of electoral democracy that the people find themselves elevating the concept of “service delivery” over and above the demands of the liberation struggle like the land and wealth redistribution to achieve social justice.
There is nothing wrong for the citizens to expect some “service delivery” in a developmental state. When you investigate the content of service delivery in South Africa, you immediately discover that the term is burdened with racial connotations. It is a term that seems to be reserved for black people who are expected to go out and vote for some political parties in exchange for “service delivery”, which entails some building of “RDP houses”, grading of gravel roads, building of clinics without medicines and doctors, installing about five communal taps for a rural settlement, and so on.
All of a sudden, the promise of service delivery eclipses the promise of liberation in South Africa’s electoral democracy. Yet the substance of the service delivery in question is so empty and dependency-inducing for black people that the development backlog caused by centuries of surviving in colonialism, capitalism and racism can hardly be redressed by the illusion of “service delivery” used by the political elites to trap the people in perpetual dependency and desperation which makes them vulnerable. The people should shape their struggles in a manner that goes beyond the narrow trappings of “service delivery” to the realisation of the liberation promise for which thousands and thousands of Azanian militants laid their lives.
The way things unfold in the South African democracy are such that you never get the impression that the notion of “service delivery” has any meaning for the white tribe. Theirs was to rob the land of the Azanian people at gunpoint and proceed to share the country’s mineral resources and general wealth among themselves to the exclusion of the black people who are the indigenous folks in Azania and Afrika. They used the illegally obtained political and economic power to entrench their culture in the country’s institutions and systems. Unlike black people in this democracy, white people were not delivered any services to hoodwink them to accept some subhuman position. However, the Azanian land they colonised was forced to serve their racist notions of being “super humans” and direct descendants of God on earth.
Arguably, white people hardly need the democratic government to protect and perpetuate their ill-begotten economic power and minority privileges. They made it a point that such colonial privileges were eternally and irreversibly locked in the 1996 Constitution of South Africa Act 108. While the principles like Constitutional Democracy and the Rule of Law are potentially progressive, it seems as though they were used in a controlled political context where they would serve as instruments to protect and perpetuate the settler-colonial minority privileges in a South Africa that refuses to be the Azania it has to be.
All white people do to show that they are beyond government programmes like “service delivery” is to entrench the apartheid “separate development” by investing their ill-begotten wealth in private schools, private hospitals, and so on. You must know that in the context of South Africa, “private” means “whites only” because black people won’t have the resources to access such “white institutions”.
While black people should not reject “service delivery”, they should look beyond it and set the development agenda through their struggles to demand the realisation of the liberation promise – the freedom of the land.