Those who seek to deny the impact and effect of decades of discriminatory policies under apartheid on today’s crisis do themselves and the nation “a grave injustice”, said Vasu Gounden, founder of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Accord).
Gounden, a globally recognised conflict management specialist, delivered a keynote address at the annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the Artscape yesterday.
Gounden’s topic was “South Africa: Civil War or Civil Peace?”
“Our problems today are grave and compounding themselves each day. Let us not be mistaken they start with the legacy we inherited from apartheid, where the bulk of our nation’s resources were used to socially engineer skills, capital, and opportunity for a minority, and this has left us with huge distortions in our society,” he said.
He told the gathering that those who denied the impact of apartheid to mask their privilege and those who use apartheid as an excuse to accumulate their privilege are enemies of the nation.
“The storm is approaching and dark clouds are gathering very fast 23 years after our first democratic elections, inequality has grown unemployment has also grown and so too has poverty, despite its alleviation through social grants.
“Our economy is either not growing or growing very slowly.
“Every day people are moving rapidly into our urban areas with no prospect of employment, placing huge pressure on government to deliver services from education to housing, sanitation, water.”
However, service delivery has declined, he said, and corruption is fast becoming endemic.
Race relations are deteriorating, ethnicity is rearing its ugly head, and political competition has turned into political intolerance.