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Op-eds

A hopeful new era?

  • AboveBoardShaunZagnoev
After years of economic stagnation, scandal and mounting social unrest, there is a feeling that South Africa is once again poised to go forward. Our democratic institutions – from the courts to the media, civil society, the office of the Public Protector and, ultimately, Parliament itself – have come under severe pressure over the past few years. But they have proved resilient enough to withstand it all and ensure an orderly, constitutional change of leadership.
by SHAUN ZAGNOEV | Feb 22, 2018

Despite fears to the contrary, fuelled in large part by experiences elsewhere on the continent, South Africa is emerging as a robust democracy where the rule of law and the wishes of the people are having the final say.

We can be hopeful that our country’s miraculous post-1994 journey is now back on track, and that in future we will be able to look back on the events of the past decade as a temporary aberration.

We congratulate Mr Ramaphosa on his election and wish him all success in the crucial role he has been chosen to play at this pivotal time in South Africa’s history. It has been reassuring to note the constructive approach adopted by the opposition parties, who have (with obvious provisos) placed party political interests on the back burner and committed themselves to working with the new administration.

Our own role as a Jewish community is also clear. We have a responsibility, at both the collective and the individual level, to do whatever we can to make South Africa a better place for all who live in it, particularly when it comes to addressing problems of socio-economic inequality in our society.

In expressing gratitude for living in a country where all fundamental rights and liberties are rigorously upheld, we should always remember those freedom fighters whose courage and sacrifices made it possible.

We are proud that so many veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle came from the ranks of our own community. Today, only a few of these brave men and women are still with us.

Last week saw the passing of AnnMarie Wolpe, whose husband Harold was one of those arrested in the wake of the notorious security police raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia in 1963. She herself was involved in a range of social justice initiatives, both in South Africa and in the UK, where she spent many years in exile.

In 2013, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the Liliesleaf Trust co-hosted a discussion on the Jewish role in the struggle against apartheid, in which Mrs Wolpe was one of the panellists. The Liliesleaf Trust is headed by the Wolpes’ son Nicholas, who has played a pivotal role in making this historic site a dynamic centre of heritage, memory and learning.

We have had the opportunity of working with him on various projects over the years, and will hopefully have further opportunities to do so in the future.

  • Listen to Charisse Zeifert on Jewish Board Talk, 101.9 ChaiFM every Friday 12:00 to 13:00.

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