During the transition into democracy the then new South African government, to appeal to their large number of African voters, made many promises, and among those, there was the promise of equality, employment, social grants, and the most prominent one – free housing. Of course, the government didn’t deliver on all the promises. But they did to some extent deliver free housing to people through their Reconstruction and Development Programme.
It is this free housing that I want to talk about today, the free housing that I’m against. In my opinion, there has never been a clearer perpetuation of poverty than that which comes through the giving of free housing to poor people. But wait a minute you may ask: “what is wrong with the poor getting free housing?”
There is nothing wrong with the poor getting free housing but there is something wrong with taking all the poor people and having them all live in one community. The problem with having all poor people in one community is that poverty and all the ills that come with it will be perpetuated.
Have you thought about why communities that have been built on the backbone of RDPs never seem to progress? You know why? Because poverty is first a mindset before it is a reality. The truth for the poor is that it is possible for the poor to break through their cycle of poverty if the “poor” live in the same community as the rich and middle class.
Mixed Living Communities have a higher chance of eliminating poverty than the Social Housing Communities do. Since poverty is a mindset first before it becomes a reality; don’t you think that poor people will fare better in a community that has successful Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Entrepreneurs, and others who’ve built wealth? Don’t we all do better by the inspiration of others?
Think about it this way; would you want to be a millionaire if you didn’t know that millionaires existed? Would you want to be a billionaire if you weren’t exposed to the reality that billionaires exist? Would you want to change your current state of living if you didn’t know any better?
How can one stop their state of begging if they aren’t exposed to hardworking individuals who are not expecting anything from anybody? Therefore, I hate looking at areas like Diepsloot, Kaalfontein, and many other “free” areas riddled with poverty, unemployment and crime. These areas are not so because the people who live there are evil, they are like that because the people who live there are not exposed to any other reality except that which has been given to them by their government who saw it fit to put them all together in one place.
Most of us who grew up in these areas know very well that what brought us out was the fact that we were blessed enough to know people from other communities either through a friend, a relative, books, magazines, or some other medium of exposure that switched on the light bulb in our brains to make us aware that it is possible to live a life of success and abundance.
My conclusion is that for as long as we seek to eradicate racism with eradicating classism at the grassroot level, then we will always have the poor and disenfranchised among us. Things don’t get better by chance or hope alone – they get better by change and change usually comes through exposure. In as much as many people achieve success by merely having successful mentors, even poverty can be alleviated by simply creating a mixed living community – even if some of the houses are free – this type of set-up will ensure that the success of many among the community rubs off on those who are not so successful – it is called exposure.
If you are young, and come from a poor community, you are going to have to find yourself rich and successful people to model your life after if you want to break free from the shackles of poverty. Poverty is a mindset and it can be defeated through the simple means of developing the mind, exposing it to higher things, and exposing it to successful people.
I wish you success.
CEO, Quality Growth International