South Africa 2024 Elections
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South Africa 2024 Elections: A New Dawn For The Indian Community?

Does the 2024 National and Provincial elections in South Africa signify any shift in terms of our national identity as an Indian Community?

The 2024 National and Provincial elections in South Africa are done and dusted, but the significance of these watershed elections will reverberate for decades to come.

While South Africa constitutionally boasts of a non-racial society, the reality on the ground is quite a different story.

The Indian South African or the South African Indian - this becomes something of an interchangeable semantic phrase in description - is very much an intrinsic part of the South African tapestry.

Imported onto these shores as "indentured labourers", primarily to work the sugar cane fields of the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal and in the case of others as "Free Indians" - who were mainly the merchants, traders and businessmen, the Indian community of South Africa have contributed enormously to the growth and development of a country once destined to the scrapheap of humanity.

The racist laws of the "white" government - better known as "Apartheid" - ensured the second-class status of the Indian community, together with the majority of the South Africans of colour, who were denied their freedoms in many aspects of general life.

But the resilience of the Indian community who migrated to these shores in the hope of a better life, their tenacity to survive against all odds and their reluctance to submit to the heinous and abhorrent treatment by their white masters created their own definition as a people - and it entrenched their identity as a bedrock of the entire broader community of South Africa.

But the advent of a new democratic order on 27 April 1994 heralded a new beginning for the country - without denial of universal suffrage being the case -  a new era began.

Challenges of a new reality confronted everybody - and importantly, the Indian community.

South Africa, for all intents and purposes, is considered a 'black" country in the racial context - notably because the majority of the population is black citizens.

Racial classification, while outlawed by the National Constitution of the country, is very much part and parcel of daily living, bringing with it many problems that have seen a paradigm shift in government thinking to restructure its approach in redressing past imbalances brought about by the racial segregation and the denial of the fundamental rights of the majority by the Apartheid government.

The go-to term - "previously disadvantaged" - has been used by the government to justify its propagation of policies that were aimed to intensify the inclusion of the majority of citizens (black) into the mainstream of South African life.

In principle, there was nothing wrong with this.

However, what this then did was to sideline other communities, and in a manner of speaking, subjugate such communities from aspiring to compete on a supposedly free, fair and just platform.

Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment - BBBEE - became a mantra which many people view as "reverse apartheid".

This system entrenches the notion that the black community is considered first and then the "others" should be looked at thereafter.

Quota systems in the workplace - and in many instances the aspect of job reservation, together with concomitant labour laws to validate such systems, have created new imperatives that raise questions as to the bona fides of the Indian community of South Africa - as to their identity as patriots and true citizens of the country.

In the opinion of the author, such bona fides can never be in question - the Indian community of South Africa is as equal to any other citizen - or should be - in terms of rights and privileges that are afforded - any discrimination considered to be racially motivated has to be devolved from the national discourse, and indeed from the hearts and minds.

It must be noted that the identity of the Indian community has long surpassed its expiry date in terms of viewing them as interlopers from the sub-continent who migrated to South Africa and became integrally contributory in all aspects of human endeavour - medicine, education, agriculture, finance, business, law etc. - in short, they have become captains of societal progress and development without a doubt.

It is true that the Indian community might be viewed with envy by some - their progress and presence have at times been punctuated by violent attacks upon them - riots in 1949, 1985 and 2021 have demonstrated a thread of resistance to their presence - by some, not all - and what such attacks did was to create an unfair narrative that influenced untoward opinion that fomented unsavoury acts as mentioned.

But the Indian diaspora clearly indicates that in a world subjected to daily migration, the Indian community of South Africa - as is the case in all of Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria to name a few - has a pivotal role to play in their adopted country which has become their home.

Their identity as a people is now intrinsically and inextricably linked to a country they can proudly call home. Their ancestral origins may be India, but South Africa is now home and their homogeneity with the indigenous people of South Africa cannot be filtered to dismiss their culture, traditions, religious persuasions and all other aspects that add value to the fabric of a country that has embraced their presence albeit with certain uncalled for reservations.

The Indian community of South Africa are now root and branch citizens of the country.- there is a generational heritage that has become entrenched into the ethos of this land and they must be seen in deference that is duly deserved  - and not as interlopers who have usurped a land that they did not belong in.

In the words of the song, "This land is your land, this land is my land...."

Uncover the truth about South Africa that lies beneath the surface and delve into the hidden stories they never wanted you to know. Join us on some compelling podcast episodes as we explore the untold tales that shape the nation on our show "Untold South Africa."

Do you have burning thoughts or opinions? We'd love to hear them! Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below to get the conversation flowing, or feel free to reach out to us at larra@globalindiannetwork.com.

Narendh Ganesh

Narendh Ganesh is a Global Indian correspondent. He is the Chairman and Founder of the National Independent Congress of South Africa (NICSA), a political party formed and registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to contest the 2024 National and Provincial elections in South Africa.

3 Comments

  1. A wonderful article in every point mentioned. Indeed it is a glaring truth that in blatant violation of claims made in our constitution our Indian community and other minorities are discriminated in a myriad different ways. All this with the blessing and impunity from our so called democratic government. It is an absolute farce ridiculing our justice system. To cut a long story short our country needs merit, performance, foreign investment, a strong trade balance leading to a strong Rand against major currencies. In order to improve and increase our GDP our government and specifically Black population must abandon the Liberation mentality and advance into building a beautiful country together with the very capable minorities they are sidelining as interlopers. There is no time for or benefit in racial hatred, revenge or retribution for the inequalities of the past. The past is dead as a doornail. Such hatred and revenge only stagnate progress and prolong the poverty and suffering of the entire nation called South Africa. Wake up South Africa ! You belong to everyone who lives herein. You are not black. You are a country of people with common aspirations… to live in peace with one another, enjoy good health, embrace the best of the world it can offer. Do not isolate yourself South Africa. Minorities will continue to build this country as in the past. Laws entrenching reverse apartheid will only hurt and impoverish the people they are intended to help by retarding their education and competence in their line of duty and employment. Common sense must prevail. Employ by merit and not by colour to rebuild the country.

  2. “The South African Indian Community”,,,should benefit and enjoy equal, SA Citizenship”,,,like the offspring of “White Colonization”,,,coinciding with the offspring of the “Central Black African Migrators”,,, now enjoying majority status,,,and all others deemed offspring,,,of the “Indigenous People’s”,,,unquestionably determined,,,through modern day studies,,,archeological factors and more,,,At this point in time of our lives,,,we should have already prevailed over racial segregation,,,ever since after we’ve been blessed with great think tanks,,,some of whom been decorated with nobility,,,on the international stage of most outstanding human achievements ,,,”For the People by the People” ,,,?🇿🇦 ?🤔.

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