As rhino activists hell-bent on their survival, it’s difficult to understand that out of all countries on the Earth, why South Africa isn’t more involved in their salvation? The majority of all rhinos survive there, so it would seem logical for them to be more proactive.
But, looking more closely at the country and government itself, they are plagued with pressing issues.
As with many African countries AIDS is a perpetual concern. The SA HIV/AIDS rate is at 17.8% (one of the highest in the world) 2 million South Africans have been killed by it.
The country has a two-tiered education system. There seem to be few good schools; and those are fiercely competitive and expensive, assuring only the wealthier children a good education.
In 2013 although 78% of public school students passed their final, 31% had grades good enough to qualify for universities. The rest are faced with an uncertain future as unemployment runs high.
The current rate of joblessness stands at 24%. Youth unemployment (under 25) stands at a staggering 65%!
A decade ago, a person with a high school degree had a 50 percent chance of getting a job. Today, that figure is 30 percent. According to South Africa’s Labour Force Survey, for the last quarter of 2013, two-thirds of all unemployed South Africans were under the age of 35.
From the crisis of unemployment and education, poverty is born. The division between rich and poor is one of the widest in the world. Although SA is not as stricken as many African countries, 4 million people are living at or below the poverty line.
The cities of Maseru and Cape Town have the distinction of being on the 10 cities with the highest murder rates list.
The overall murder rate in the nation is 31.9 per 100,000 people, 30 times that of Great Britain. For police it’s 51 out of 100,000. For farmers, who are overwhelmingly white, the rate soars to 99 out 100,000.
And that is part of another issue-the racial divide. The attacks on South African farmers make it twice as dangerous to be a farmer than a police officer. While the government has argued that there is no evidence of organised attacks, white farmers believe these attacks are evidence of a campaign to drive them off their land.
The extent of all of these economic and human issues, as with any country, is controlled by its leadership. There is no Mandela in South Africa. There is only Jacob Zuma.
Zuma is a president who seemingly spends more time and money on his own interests and family than on the people of the country. Suspicions are he has spent tax payer money on his private home improvements and additions, totalling approximately $23 million dollars.
He has fanned the flames of racial division, and has had charges of corruption, fraud, rape and unethical conduct brought against him. They all seem to eventually get dropped. Yet the level of distrust remains. Is it any wonder with a man whose middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “the one who laughs while he endangers you”?
Zuma recently told a US audience that Israel and Palestine should take advice from South Africa about resolving their violent conflict. Although at rally parties he sings and dances to his signature song, “Awuleth’ Umshini Wami,” or “Bring Me My Machine Gun.”
And in the middle of it all-THIS is where our rhino resides.
Although there is always hope for change, let’s face it- our rhino is NOT the priority to the SA government. It is not something South Africa can tackle on it’s own. It will take a global effort to fight and win this war.