On the 27th April 1994 we saw the first fully democratic election in South Africa’s history and this picture taken in 1994 says everything. Here a group of former “old” SADF servicemen are seen in a Buffel armoured personnel carrier (APC) in front of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 electoral promises to newly enfranchised South Africans – “more Jobs, Peace and Freedom”.
During this period ex-conscript SADF soldiers, in collaboration with “permanent force” soldiers, all put themselves at risk securing the country and paving the way for the South African ‘miracle’. conscription by 1994 had been abandoned so they did this for the love of peace and freedom – and they volunteered freely in their thousands to do it.
Bear in mind the far right wing AWB was still bombing installations right up to the day before the election itself and extreme violence between IFP and ANC supporters was still rife, so much so that SADF servicemen had to provide armed escort of election ballots to the independent electoral commission counting stations and provide armed security at the booths themselves.
From 1990 to 1994 South Africa saw more violence than the entire preceding period of actual “Apartheid”. There was extensive violence and thousands of deaths in the run-up to the first non-racial elections in South Africa in April 1994 – and to be fair it was not just the ANC , the violence was driven by a number of political parties left and right of the political spectrum as they jostled for political power in the power vacuum created by CODESA negotiations.
To deal with this escalation of all out political violence, the SADF called out for an urgent boost in resources, however conscription was unravelling and numbers dropping off rapidly from the “national service” pool. Luckily however, tens of thousands of “white” ex National servicemen were now serving out “camp commitments” in various Citizen Force units, SADF Regiments and in the Regional Commando structures who heeded the call and volunteered to stay on – fully dedicated to serving the country above all else, and fully committed to keep the country on the peace process track and stop the country sliding into civil war.
This service to their country is now conveniently forgotten by the ANC government – as it is now an inconvenient truth to think ‘white’ South African conscripts also secured the country its ‘freedom’ and ‘liberation’. It simply does not fit with the current “struggle” rhetoric.
In the back-ground of this telling featured photograph is an old ANC poster with Nelson Mandela promising jobs and freedom to people who vote for ANC, however anyone with an understanding of economics knows it was an absurd thing for a political party to promise jobs to the masses in South Africa. The economic sector makes jobs, not the political sector. The political sector needs to enfranchise the economic sector as much as possible to allow it to generate wealth.
In 1994, the vast majority of South Africans remained upbeat about its new democracy – that the coalition government and ten year sunset clause would safely steer the country into representative politics, economic wealth generation and stability.
So, just over two decades years later with South Africa under ANC rule – spiralling unemployment, reverse racism, junk status and corruption on a epic level – the ruling elite is still promising the same absurd promise – More Jobs. The idea now is to plunder state pensions and plunder ‘free’ enterprise ‘white’ capital (there is no such thing as ‘white capital’ really, but lets not dwell on facts), all done in the hopes it will somehow finance jobs for the masses and keep their voters happy.
To many of those optimistic soldiers in 1994, actively participating in making a world changing event a reality, the current state of affairs in South Africa is now as far removed from the lofty ideals of democracy and freedom that they fought for and put their lives on the line for.