“Everybody praises the sacrifices that former president Nelson Mandela and the rest of us made but what are the privileged of South Africa prepared to sacrifice?” Goldberg asked.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the police raid of Rivonia’s Lilliesleaf farm, which saw Nelson Mandela, Denis Goldberg and several others sentenced to life imprisonment in 1963.
Goldberg, a civil engineer by training, became a political activist after the apartheid system prevented him from working on national civil projects, restricting him to work only on projects that catered for white people.
“When I found out that I could only build for whites and not all people, I came to the conclusion that I needed to help change our country before I could build for our people,” explained Goldberg.
He added that by the time he got out of prison, 22 years later, the opportunity to pursue civil engineering never materialised although he believes that his biggest achievement to date was helping shape the new South Africa.
The current labour unrest and lengthy wage negotiations in the country’s mining sector have however prompted Goldberg to believe that a lot still needs to be done, especially in terms of economic transformation.
The fact that there were a significant number of migrant mineworkers in the Marikana mines was proof, according to Goldberg that aspects of apartheid’s migrant labour system still existed in modern South Africa.
“Also, farmers claim that they cannot afford to pay agricultural workers higher wages, yet we all know that the main problem is that these farmers do not want to let their own living standards fall,” added Goldberg.
He believes the fortunate of South Africa need to make changes to their affluent lifestyles in order to raise the living standards of the masses of people.
“Unless we change the way we think about how our profits should be allocated, social unrest will continue and things will fall apart. The choice is ours,” he said.
Goldberg proposed that should workers’ wages increase, it will contribute to growing the country’s economy as their expenses will rise. He claims that this should be the big picture and the privileged need to see that.
“A donation to a charity from time to time will not make a radical change. We need a society free of apartheid’s economic attitudes as we cannot carry on living like this. We have got to change,” said Goldberg.