The fact is that many things are going wrong in our country:

It is accordingly quite appropriate for Frans Cronje to suggest that concerned South Africans should start thinking about the need for a “Plan B”.

The fact is that South Africa has never been an easy country. Almost every visitor to the country since 1652 has commented that it is a beautiful place – but that it can’t possibly last another five years. Living, surviving and prospering in South Africa has always been a struggle. However, time and time again throughout our history we South Africans have faced and overcome the challenges that have confronted us. Today, the situation is no different.

That is why we should not forget “Plan A”. I would suggest that it should include the following components:

South Africans from all our communities have faced and overcome far greater obstacles in the past: in 1856, at the time of the cattle killing, the future seemed hopeless for the Xhosa – but it was Xhosas who were at the forefront of our democratic transformation in 1994; in 1879, after the defeat at the battle of Ulundi, few Zulus would have imagined that one day we would have a Zulu president; in 1902, despite the devastation of the Anglo-Boer War, Afrikaners began to rebuild their shattered lives and communities and have made an indispensible contribution to prosperity and success of our society; during the dark days of the mid-1980s few South Africans thought that we would be able to build a peaceful, non-racial and democratic future.

Fortunately, there have always been enough South Africans with courage and faith in the future to pull us through the crises and to lead us on toward the enormous potential of our beautiful country. It is a struggle – but it is worth it. We live in one of the most beautiful, diverse and exciting countries in the world. Somebody once said that Australia’s biggest problem is that it has no big problems. Nobody can say that about us. The challenges that confront us mean that there is no room for complacency – that we really do have to struggle harder to build a better future for our people than most people in most other countries.  Ironically, in an increasingly complacent and humdrum world, our problems may be one of our most important national assets.

So before we dust off “Plan B” all of us should do everything in our power to make sure that “Plan A” works.

By Dave Steward, Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation

Photo credit: Celso Flores / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)