DUT STUDENTS REFLECT ON 20 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY
By: Khanyisani Dlomo
Sunday marked exactly 20 years since the first democratic elections were held in South Africa – a reflection of the journey travelled since the first time all South Africans were allowed to cast their votes.
JournalismIziko caught up with the Durban University of Technology students who reflected on what the country has achieved and what still needs to be done. Some students believe that the country has to defeat racism, corruption, maladministration, unemployment and other social ills.
A Fine Art and Jewellery and Design student, Ruan Coetzee (26) said: “ Freedom means I can marry anyone I want regardless of race. In the past 20 years, there has been the formation of the new middle class. We’ve seen the growth of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The dependency of citizens on social grant has grown and there has been a lot of opportunity for small businesses.”
Karinda Jagmohan (18) reflected: “I am shocked because after learning what our country has been through, I’m amazed and proud that we have come so far. Racism is not a concern anymore. We need to remember that we are all equal in everyway.”
Another born-free Danica Davies (20) said: “Freedom means I can have friends of any colour and experience their beliefs and cultures. Our country has achieved the unity of all races. We have grown but unemployment and corruption are still a huge concern. If we can root-out corruption, there would be more money for service delivery.”
Sonia Hendricks (18) expressed her views: “Freedom is the right and power to act and speak without fear of being victimised. In the first 10 years of democracy, everyone was treated equally. Our country was moving forward. Since then there haven’t been opportunities for us as Indians, blacks take precedence. We need new leaders that will set an example to the young generation.”
Before blasting corruption, Ndumiso Mkhize (21) said that freedom has assisted to improve the country. “Our education has improved. Black people were under-privileged but now they have good jobs that were known for white people. Freedom opened doors for everyone.”
“We have to limit corruption. Leaders we are looking up to are corrupt. Corruption is killing us,” added Mkhize.
Sthabiso Mdledle (25) said that though there is a good story to tell, but there have been negatives. “SA democracy is still young. It has achieved a lot of teenage pregnancy. Social grants pushes teenagers to get pregnant so they will get a child support grant,” she said.
Some students don’t know whether they are free or not, let alone the definition of freedom. “Are we free?” Asked Nomvula Sikakane (30), a Public Relations graduate. “What constitutes freedom?” She continued to ask. “I don’t have a meaning of freedom – constitutionally or democratically.
“There is no change. UMlazi N Section where I come from still looks the same as pre 1994. We only see political parties coming to us when it is time to vote,” added Sikakane.
Mbalenhle Sithebe (25) said that racism moves the country backward. “SA cannot run away from racism but the youth can control how we behave amongst each other. Our country is going backward instead of going forward. There is too much of labour brokers. There are no decent jobs. The private sector should work hand-in-hand with government to create decent jobs,” said Sithebe.