Belief in entitlement holds

THANKS for the great letter by Mel Smethurst on Friday (“Mediocrity not good enough, Bafana”). He has hit the nail on the head more accurately than anyone else concerning our national soccer team’s poor performance.

But the failure is not just a soccer problem, it is a national problem as Cedric Human tried to point out in his letter on January 29 (“Zim has secret”). The reason for South Africa’s non-performance in all areas is its people’s belief in entitlement.

Everywhere in the country people think they have a right to anything they desire. We demand an entitlement to employment, to free medical care, to protection by the law, to free housing, schooling and tertiary education.

Our sports fans think we have an entitlement to win a soccer tournament because it is being played in our own back yard, while even our minister of sport gets angry, because our entitlement to beat the best coached soccer team in Africa was not forthcoming.

The reason for all this false expectation is that we have a constitution and a Freedom Charter that is much too sophisticated for its people, and too difficult for our leaders and resources to uphold. Twenty years after the advent of democracy, we would do well to learn this one lesson: entitlement is a fallacy and human rights in Africa do not exist.

It is pointless having a human rights clause enshrined into our constitution if the government cannot provide the ingredients to make these rights a reality. Regardless of what vote-seeking politicians say, the truth is that God has rights, because he is sovereign and humans have duties because they are not.

The rest of Africa came to realise years ago that nothing is guaranteed, that the best way to survive in Africa is to expect nothing and to get on with life as best as they can.

In Zimbabwe, the only people who have any entitlement are the members of the ruling class, but this ruling class is the only unproductive group in the country. The rest are past masters at generating a living from whatever they can lay their hands on, because they know they will get no help from the government.

Strike action in that country is a thing of the past. Employees who strike not only lose their jobs, but they are also beaten and imprisoned. So much for human rights.

South Africa’s demanding attitude stems from the fact that its people have never really had a “struggle”. Unlike Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and many other African countries, the last time a war was fought on South African soil was during the Anglo Boer War, more than 100 years ago.

Living through the cruelty of apartheid, having leaders imprisoned, placing bombs in bars and having a few activists killed by the police does not constitute a “struggle”. Most of Africa has endured a “struggle” of some sort, but this is yet to occur in South Africa.

If you really need an good example of colonial cruelty, do yourself a favour and purchase a book like Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or The Mammoth Book of Native Americans and have your eyes opened. When Columbus discovered America in 1492, there were 18 million native Americans (Red Indians) living in North America.

At the beginning of the 20th century there were only a quarter of a million left. Over a period of 400 years English and Spanish immigrants managed to kill the rest in their greed for territory and wealth.

In South Africa, the original population has increased by anything from 50 to 100 fold since the white man arrived in 1652.

And the white man in Africa is always portrayed as a cruel racist.

My advice to those who always have something to complain about is to get a life and cope with what you have, before the Zimbabweans, Malawians, Mozambicans and the rest of Africa make you slaves in your own country. Get used to the fact that the world owes you nothing.

Bob McChlery, Kenton on Sea

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