Friday, September 28, 2007
2007. Post Apartheid 2007: NZ and SA Roundup
2007. Esslemonts, Mona Vale, Christchurch.
Rot remained at East London, SA: 13 years after SA's Freedom Election, at least 19 white, affirmative-action teachers, with whom I'd taught, still rotted at Selborne College. Other white, affirmative-action "colleagues" still rotted at other East London schools. Despite good teaching at Selborne, my abiding memory was of a dirty, rotten school, with corrupt, unfriendly teachers.
After 6 years, NZ Labour was 3rd term re-elected, with 40% of the electorate vote, and negotiated with smaller parties to form an MMP coalition government. National got 39% of the electorate vote, and the new Maori party excelled. Some list MPs, helped by the minimum 5% party vote, became MPs again, despite electorates rejecting them. Former Treasurer, Winston Peters's electorate rejected him, but Labour appointed him Foreign Minister. Later, National opposition leader Brash resigned, and was replaced by Key.
Having taught youths for years, and having to watch politicians on NZTV, I thought their self-promoting, middle-fingering, swearing, baiting, belittling, mugging antics in parliament differed little from the worst youths I'd taught, except politicians bludged nice perks and fat salaries from taxpayers.
In 2007, the Labour government introduced the KiwiSaver state pension scheme. And state hospital doctors went on strike, claiming their $145000 p.a. salary was too low. Leah was lucky if she earned $30 000 p.a.
By emigrating to NZ, we gained physical security, but lost financial security. My apartheid souvenirs at Heath Street: a klipgooi Coronation brick and a chunk of polished, grey granite from East London Nahoon dump, which I used as doorstops; blood-red Schizostylis coccinea and fiery Crocosmia which grew in my garden, when the Rainbow Regime stood-down deputy president Zuma, after rape and corruption charges. Zuma was acquitted of rape. Ex president PW Botha died. Zimbabwe's ex PM, Ian Smith died a couple of weeks after Zimbabwe expats peace-marched down Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch.
2007. Zimbabwians Peace Marching down Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch. "Something is rotten in the state."
Selfish whites who'd voted for 46 years of apartheid left their offspring a terrible legacy: Hubby of Leah's friend Lynelle, who'd given us Lucky bitch 22 years before, supplied building materials for a new Pretoria school, funded by Oprah Winfrey. Lynelle's sister fostered or adopted black Aids babies. The ANC government stung businesses with more racial quotas: BEE - Black Economic Empowerment.
Leah's Durban teacher friend Joan was carjacked, and her heirloom rings were stolen as well. After weeks of teacher-strikes, when non -unionist Joan tried to keep her Queensburgh school open, a black man said, "You're a white bitch! You're a white supremacist racist!" Joan early-retired soon afterwards.
Despite PC verbiage about reconciliation, former strugglers who'd suffered under apartheid, delighted in tormenting whites: the white generations which didn't vote for apartheid. Despite having taught business methods to Zulus in the new SA, Leah's sister Jay planned emigrating to the USA, as black Af-action quotas had forced her and her Rhodie hubby to be unemployed. The clincher, one Durban day: their car was forced off Durbs southern freeway by black motorists. Later, Zulu men swore at them in West Street, simply because they were whites. In future, maybe we'll have a family reunion in USA?
After Jake's 21st birthday, when I drove to the top of Halswell Quarry Hill, Leah and I saw Alps in the west, Pacific in the east, and Canterbury Plain vanishing southwards. As economic outcasts, maybe when Leah and I grow old, with our hair as white as the Uniforms who took dad to Town Hill Hospital, we'll find a home for dad's stamp books. Maybe I'll find dad's first children, Peter and Patricia, my half brother and sister. Extensive Aussie enquiries were so far unsuccessful, but I'd found Esslemont Estate Wines in the Hunter Valley.
As for my Shakesperean "seven ages," I reckoned I was somewhere between "justice" and "slippered pantaloon," and I'd stay there a while. As for my final-recovery, the conveyor had stopped, and my personal cutting and polishing was delayed.
After buying ice-creams near Red Cliffs, Leah, Jake, Luke and I licked, and looked at houses on the Port Hills. I imagined Durban North where I grew up at 22 Chelsea Drive. The house had become a double -storey blockhouse, bordered by big trees. The umdoni and concrete border-wall mom had built were still there, where family ghosts haunted. I looked at Avon-Heathcote slime-green waters roiling round the bend. Moya tickled my face, and I heard servant Rosie cackling: "It'sa heeeeluva t'ing Mak."
I heard Fraser chuckling, and mom singing her varsity song:
"O 'Maritzburg, happy land, happy land,
I'm going back..." (Natal University Archives).
We liked NZ, but some Kiwis ripped off immigrants. Key, National Party leader, had called poor Kiwis an, "underclass," and welfare bureaucrats classified us, "working poor."
My lovely wife Leah did professional work few Kiwis did. She worked long hours, but didn't earn enough to enrich our family. For years, she'd phoned in her low-pay to WINZ, biggest state department, which topped up her pay with dole. We had no money for extras: holidays; annuities; investments; house deposit; mortgage; decent clothes, new car. After 12 years' Christchurch residence, having bargained my former wealth for safety (my family paid a high price), and paid over $100 000 rent in 3 different houses, we rented a former state-house, inferior to our former SA houses.
Since emigrating, our living costs rose, our living standards dropped. But our safety improved, despite our Burnside letterbox being Guy Fawkes firebombed in 2005. My car was ambushed and attacked on Cranford Street in 2007, by out-of-control, partying youths.
Before 2003, NZ Immigration Service pitched a general skills category points-system, stimulating NZ's economy with immigrants' money, but rarely matching manpower needs with either appropriate NZ tertiary training (like apprenticeships), or suitable immigrants (having education, expertise, entrepreneurial skills and work experience) with needed jobs. Some professional immigrants couldn't find long-term professional work, or were under-employed. They re-emigrated, or retrained, or stayed unemployed. Kiwis had much to answer for, as some immigrants experienced psycho-social, health and wealth damage.
In 2003, NZ Labour Immigration minister announced legislation about a skilled migrant category points-system: Immigrants with NZ needed skills, like artisans, with job-offers, preferably outside Auckland, would be favoured. It was another migrant-labour scheme, for employers not committed to on-the-job training. NZ would get moneyed immigrants educated and work-experienced in other lands.
In 2005 the NZ Labour government announced a taxpayer-paid scheme, to be introduced over several years, which would help poor working-families' finances. Also announced: an employer administered "KiwiSaver" savings / superannuation scheme to begin in 2007.
I could never buy a NZ house for my family, after owning fully paid for properties in SA. In 2007, NZ's average house mortgage of $200 000, paid off over 30 years, became $600 000, with interest. I'd need to win the Lotto or Readers' Digest Sweepstakes to enable me to buy a NZ house. Aged 56, as a former NZ labourer (earning less than $10/hr), if hypothetically, I'd worked 12 years x 52 weeks/year (no holidays) x 40 hours/week x NZ$10/hour, I would've earned only $249600, before 19% tax and GST. Never mind other living costs for my family.
Years hence, our sons would've been exploited as cheap-labour by Kiwi employers. They'd be paying back student-loans. They'd be searching for low-paid, short-term contract-jobs, or running their own businesses. Their future was theirs'.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.