SA risks uprising if inequality endures, warns Vavi

Unless drastic action is taken to reduce unemployment, South Africa risks facing another 1976 uprising, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Thursday.

“I have already over and over again pointed out the danger of a ticking bomb, that unless we can do something drastic about the crisis of unemployment, in particular youth unemployment, we risk another 1976 uprising,” he said in a speech delivered in Johannesburg.

He was speaking at a discussion themed “Critical conversations on prospects for a non-racial future in SA”.

There could be no “genuine reconciliation” if the status quo was maintained.

“Our argument is that we need a new growth path that can address all the structural fault lines of the colonial economy.”

Such a path meant breaking up the concentration of power and production.

“Shouting neoliberal slogans such as saying that there must be economic growth and everything will then fall into place is not only reckless but narrow and irresponsible.”

Vavi said affirmative action was still essential to achieve reconciliation.

“But it will not work if it simply means condemning more people from the minorities to unemployment and poverty, while enriching a tiny number of people from the majority.

“True reconciliation and true reconstruction will happen when whites accept that the current inequities are not sustainable, politically, in the long run.

“Equally, reconstruction and reconciliation will happen the day the black majority accept that equity is of critical importance, but that precisely because of our past the white minority has better education.”

He said it was up to the black majority to extend the hand of reconciliation.

“After all the only ones with a better chance to achieve national reconciliation are the victims of the past racial segregation.”—Sapa

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