As we enter into a brand-new year, with changes happening all around us, it is helpful to reflect on the relationships built in the past, appreciate the moments shared and plot the way ahead.\
With the year drawing to a close, it’s a good time to look back at all that 2018 brought. For the nation, there were highlights and low points, good experiences, negative events and plenty to endure. We could, for example, focus on data, like the crime stats, or processes that were supposedly improved, like the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) payments.
We could ask ourselves difficult questions, for example, were we better off before the political changes? Are we becoming immune to the ever-increasing instances of government failures and number of corrupt politicians?
This year, the South African economy took a battering. There was an increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT); fuel costs reached an all-time high; and unemployment increased as a result.
Various fact-finding commissions have been put in place to explore irregularities of certain banking institutions, the revenue services and state capture, which might not appear to affect us directly and personally, but they have a huge impact on the financial future of the entire country – and therefore us all!
The new Minster of Finance Tito Mboweni released a medium-term budget statement that raised a few eyebrows, especially among the opposition parties and labour movements. It seemed promising, in many ways, but will the changes be as effective as we hope?
Although new to the ministry, Tito Mboweni is not new to politics or to the financial sphere. He was the labour minister in the cabinet of late President Nelson Mandela in the1990s and the Governor of the Reserve Bank for a few years. Now, he has the responsibility of guiding South Africa into a future that looks rather bleak for consumers and businesses.
It’s not all doom and gloom as we head into the 2019 election year. But a positive result in the elections will depend on a united effort from all South African citizens. Just as we’re all affected by the increase in the cost of living, we’ll all face the consequences if nothing is done. I’d like to reflect on a few key areas where I’d like to see change occur in the New Year.
The South African healthcare system is in bad shape. We’re in the process of implementing National Health Insurance (NHI) but it’s very uncertain whether we will be adding this new system on top of the current and broken system.
Mboweni announced that a few million rands will be allocated to improving the quality of staff, increasing the number of beds and reducing linen shortages in the health sector. I would like to see these funds applied to the most affected areas of the system and not misappropriated. This would be one welcome change.
The South African education system should also be adapted to include activities relating to all sports, arts and culture throughout the education cycle, from early childhood development to tertiary education. It would be great for social cohesion and integration of different communities.
The way we do business and explore employment opportunities should also change to be innovative and inclusive of all persons despite the level of education or age. Any factor that prevents people from embracing their differences should be removed from the curriculum, policies and practices. Unity among all people should become the norm.
This principle includes racism, which should be buried in the past and not resurrected at every opportunity where someone feels excluded.
These are some of the changes I am hoping to see in 2019. I am very optimistic that they can become reality, especially with the opportunity to help bring about change at the ballot box come next May.
Raven Benny is the chairperson of QASA. He has been a C5, 6 and 7 quadriplegic since 2000. He is married with five children, is mad about wheelchair rugby and represented South Africa in 2003 and 2005. He also plays for Maties. email: email@example.com