Celebrating Human Rights – Meet Mishael

The month of March is a month of Human Rights. When celebrating and talking about Human Rights we need to mention an important part of them which are socio economic rights. We have asked some our young people for their opinion on socio economic rights and we would like to introduce Mishael Nonhlanhla Mabena, and her view on that: 

My understanding of socio-economic rights is what people might refer to as basic needs or the kind of rights that give human beings a sensible and dignified life. These are rights such as basic healthcare, free education, adequate housing and victims’ rights. Over the years, citizens of South Africa have lost faith in their nation and the ability to protect and provide for their own needs. Socio-economic rights should serve as a reassurance that there is still hope for a better South Africa.

Because socio-economic needs are not being fully met, South Africa still suffers crime and corruption. This makes South Africa number three on the list of top ten countries in the world with the highest crime rates. This is a result of citizens trying to tackle the high unemployment rate. Health facilities have now stopped taking proper care of patients because of lack of facilities. We have young people who pass Matric and stay at home because there are no funds for them to further their studies. We struggle to realize that our country is headed into a very dark direction because of the bad leadership; people who are supposed to help the country have no clue how to do that. 

Some of the observations I have made in my community is that a lot of young people loiter around with nothing to do, and old people dying at home because of the distance they have to walk to access medical facilities. We have citizens who go on strike and vandalize state property, all in the name of demanding services. This results in the country having to repair and rebuild with the money that should have been invested in socio-economic needs. 

I stay RiverPark in Alexandra but I grew up with the fear of Alexandra because of the brutality of crime it was known for. I knew I couldn’t walk at night, use my cellphone while walking, or even freely carry my handbag in the streets. Because of that I stayed away and couldn’t see the beauty and heritage the place carried and because of the stigma it was burdened with. Over the years I have realized that it is a community full of hopeful young people crying out for help; young people with ideas that will soon drown because they have no one to help and mentor them. They are paying for the sins of where they were raised. We end up spending money to buy ideas from other countries because we failed to invest in the socio-economic sector of our own. 

As a country we might be willing to have the loudest cry but until our leaders realize the importance of investing more in the basic needs of the country and the youth realizing the importance of grasping opportunities we are bound to stay stagnant or move backwards. Our first black president, Nelson Mandela once said: “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success”. I say investing in the socio-economic needs of our willing youth is all the tools our country needs for an economically successful South Africa.

When I think of the future I think of a South Africa where we have the best medical facilities, where the standard of our public schools yields the same result as private schools; a country where we have a lot of facilities like Afrika Tikkun which invest in the children and develop them from cradle to career. I dream for a country that is such a properly oiled machine that corruption will be nothing but a distant memory. 

Mishael Nonhlanhla Mabena, 24, Career Development Programme candidate at Afrika Tikkun Phuthaditjaba Centre, Alexandra.

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