Economic Freedom in Our Life’s time, is beyond our reach
The world bank report(Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in South Africa : An Assessment of Drivers, Constraints and Opportunities) that explains the progress South Africa has made in reducing poverty and inequality since the end of apartheid in 1994, with a focus on the period between 2006 and 2015, has revealed nothing new. The triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality have become an election sloganeering by the ANC in every election. The ruling party condemn everybody that perpetuate inequality, especially, apartheid and white monopoly capital (WMC) but themselves. It unashamedly exonerate itself from any complicity in failing to devise concrete plans to alleviate the country’s long overdue and overriding economic challenges. The party has mastered the art of self-diagnosis and, useless in adhering to the said remedy or prescriptions. This is evident by the fact that twenty four years later into democracy, the triple challenges are worsening. Since 1994, the country’s developmental programs like the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP) and the now famous Radical Economic Transformation (RET) have never been implemented wholeheartedly. There seems to be a fashionable hopping from one program to the other depending on the political interest of the time. Currently, radical economic transformation (RET), is banded around without any substance and will soon be abandoned without addressing or making any dent in narrowing the prevailing economic challenges in the country. The latest “buzz” word from the ANC leadership is “new dawn” and “foreign investments”. The truth is no amount of foreign direct investment will address government mal-administration and corruption. In reality, the current dire state of municipalities, ailing state organs are all linked to the ANC inability to govern honestly. To make matters worse, governance and administration is not getting better as shown in the auditor general latest report on municipalities across the country.
The Duality of the South African economy perpetuates inequalities
The World Bank report also takes note of the South African duality nature of the economy “where on the one hand is a small high-skilled, high-productivity economy and on the other hand, a large low-skilled, low-productivity one. This assessment argues that it is this duality that has in part resulted in high wage inequality that has been steadily rising reflecting a highly polarized labor market”. The governing party attempt to nullify the challenges emanating from the existing duality of the economy has been lacklustre. Also, it is disingenuous for the government to bemoan the existing duality or parallel systems for the rich and poor when its leaders perpetuate class divide. The parallel systems exists in health, education, security as well as legal in case of private prosecutions. The country’s challenge is that the public run institutions are a far cry to their relevant private institutions counterparts. Absurdly, the ANC/government leaders are rendering a public service they deem inferior to consume. Consequently, the lower class majority relies on public institutions and are destined and confined to below par services.
In South Africa, it is clear that duality perpetuate inequality and creates all the divides across all aspect of the South African economic life. The national health insurance (NHI) challenges and resistance from the private health sector to merge attest to the difficulty of merging the two unequally systems. Seemingly, the government learned nothing when it merged higher institutions of learning. The lesser resourced universities/colleges were swallowed without achieving any transformation goals. It can’t be that when an institution is not functioning well, merging or closure becomes an option. This is the same reasoning that led to the closure of teaching and nursing colleges instead of improving their efficiency. Assimilation of public institution to private well run institutions will not erase corruption and ineptitude that leads to the paralyses. The public health system has collapsed because planning and proper governance is non-existent. Morden health care system is much specialised. For a hospital to function properly, factors such as population dynamics, disease profiling, equipment’s, maintenance, doctor patient ratio, death and birth rate must be taking into considerations. Let’s hope this time around the ANC has a plan. Also, NHI will results in quality access to health care to all citizens irrespective of one’s financial standing.
Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), a “wealth” stolen and, must be ended
The African National Congress is the main obstacle in attaining economic freedom in our life’s time. It likes to praise itself on coming with transformative policies like BEE, on the other hand, is quick to distance itself from the failures of BEE implementation. BEE enforcement is non-existent, this is manifested in employment equity numbers which reveals a dire state of economic freedom for Africans year in year out. For some strange reason, the ANC acts powerless despite being in power. Maybe is because most of its leaders sits in private companies boards and are reluctant to upset their bosses. It will be helpful to see any specific report or study detailing the impact of BEE in its intended constituency. As it stands, BEE is a farce, a scheme for ANC elites to reward themselves. Is hard to pinpoint a wealthy black person who benefitted from BEE and also detached from ANC political circles. The fact that the ANC allowed companies like Lonmin and others to give BEE shares to politically aligned individual instead of its black qualifying employees, shows how self-serving its leaders are. True BEE will occur when black people runs companies and employ other black people. Genuine black industrialist are struggling with raising capital especially those not link to the state through politics. Many black small businesses are struggling and closing due to late or preferential payment by the state. Black Economic Empowerment is an ANC sanctuary and is monopolised by ANC leaders including some of its veterans. The collapse of municipalities, state owned companies signifies how the public purse is being squandered inconsequentially in the name of BEE.
All countries that emerged from a history like ours and, call themselves a developmental state, effectively used the state to drive mass upskilling and education of its people. Contrary to the norm, the South African state is a cash cow for political elites. Inevitable, like other liberation movements in Africa, as they collapse, they leave their supporters poorer than before they took power from their erstwhile colonial rulers. The economic exclusion of South African’s black people and the youth in particular, is a huge miscarriage of justice in post-apartheid South Africa. It remains unacceptable that in South Africa today, poverty levels is well over 50%. Accompanying poverty, is unemployment that is embarrassingly sitting above 26%. We are told that if those who have given up in looking for jobs are included, unemployment rate could be even higher. Lastly, the recycling of ANC elites who are BEE beneficiaries between labour, private sector, and public sector (government) creates cartels and monopolisation of BEE opportunities. Interestedly, the same groupings of people interchange in going to DAVOS to look for foreign investors, as politicians or business people depending on who is running the ANC. The country cannot afford anymore BEE damage and it must be abolished.
By Sivodlo Silombo
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