by Puleng Matsaneng
When I was growing up, learning to count to 100 was hard work. During my first year of primary school it was important for me to show my parents how much I had learnt at school. My friends and I would count everything we saw around us. In South Africa 100 is an important number this year. We especially remember utata uMadiba who would have turned 100 years old in July this year. We are assessing President Cyril Ramophosa’s 100 days in office as president. Two different but important milestones.
Utata uMadiba, especially for those who recognise the role he played in our country and in the world, will continue to put smiles on people’s faces when we read or think about him. I like what Caiphus Semenya says about our ancestors, “people do not die they live in us as we continue.”
What do the first 100 days of Ramaphosa’s presidency tell us? When he took over as president our currency gained strength against the US dollar and other world currencies. This was good for our country and was a very positive sign of the confidence that the markets had in his ability to lead South Africa. But it says very little to the poor person facing grinding poverty every day. The basic foodstuffs that people need always cost much more than what they can afford. When billions of rands were stolen from our country’s fiscus, it was these people – the poor – who paid the highest price.
The day to day mathematical reality leaves the poor person confused and unsure about their future.
While I was preparing to write this reflection, I read the most devastating statistics shared by the Gini Index report on inequality. South Africa ranked top on the inequality scale when it looked at income payments. We have one of the best constitutions in the world but, ironically, are ranked first when it comes to inequality.
There is a slogan we used to say in the 1980’s “people shall share”. It might be good for us to reflect on this slogan again today. Maybe it is the stark question that we all need to be asking but most especially those who have the most resources at their disposal. Some people might say to me: “100 days is too short, let us wait and see how it goes!” I agree. Power has shifted to a different person now. I do not want to forget the prayer Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng shared with us; he prayed for men and women of discipline to be in office in public service.
I ask that we reflect, today, on how we can help the current leadership to do their work with dignity. I ask that we reflect on what we as individuals can do so that, together with our leadership, we ensure that the poorest of the poor can live with the dignity that is their right. That is what this Sunday, Corpus Christi – the body of Christ, urges us to do with and for each other.