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AZAPO Voice Volume 1 Issue Number 35

AV35


BANISH MEDIOCRITY AND EMBRACE PROFESSIONALISM IN THE SOCs

Those behind the sacking of Transnet Chief Executive, Siyabonga Gama would like the public to believe that their actions are motivated by a quest to clean the parastatal of the rot and corruption that had become endemic. It is not that simple.

What the country is witnessing are the dynamics of factional politics that have come to characterise the ruling party.

It is an open secret that the ruling party deploys its cadres to key parastatals with a mandate of supporting the party by giving business to those close to the party. In turn, those business people would donate handsomely to the party in what is called kickbacks. This is the real source of corruption. These donations are made in secret. This is why most political parties are opposed to the legislation that forces parties to declare their funders. After all, these political parties would not have the money to hire stadiums and buses to fill stadiums for their extravagant rallies. They would have no money to hire some artists to dance semi-naked in those rallies.

If there is anything to be learned from the Transnet saga, it is that the process of appointing the board and the top executive of parastatals should be open and transparent to the public. Furthermore, those appointed should be appointed on the basis of their qualifications and not party loyalties.

When public assets such as Transnet and SAA are poorly managed, this empowers right-wing elements who want to weaken the State. These right-wingers will then argue that these assets should be privatised because the State has failed to run them efficiently. What they fail to acknowledge is that ownership is not the same as poor management.

AZAPO believes in a strong State. However, the State should belong to all the people of Azania. Currently, many skilled Black professionals are being marginalised because they are not members of the ruling party. Even members of the ruling party who have been identified as belonging to a “wrong” faction are also being marginalised. This gate-keeping robs the country of the best talent that can serve our country and its people with excellence.

It is hoped that the actions of the Transnet board are influenced by its desire to rise above party factions and look for the best brains that can run this asset of the nation. If they fail, those who argue that Gama is just a victim of political games in the ruling party would have been vindicated.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the world, the ruling party represents the face and substance of Black governance. Yet we know that is not true. While their outward appearance seems to be Black, they in fact represent white interests. They have nothing to do with Black Power. AZAPO is the organisation that stands for Black Consciousness and Black Power as articulated by Steve Biko.


BUDGET SPEECH BLAMES THE POOR

What a tame and neoliberal Medium Term Budget Speech by the newly-appointed Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni.  It is in fact a Budget Speech that blames the poor for the ills and mismanagement of the economy.  Small wonder that the markets were excited at Mboweni’s appointment.

The picture is gloomy.  The unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 37.2%.  The recent short fall in tax revenue of R50 billion resulted in the poor people having been targeted to bleed for that loss by a VAT increase of 1% from 14% to 15%.  Yet that shortfall had everything to do with corruption, State Capture and the deliberate and corrupt incapacitation of the South African Revenue Services (SARS).  This was done through the ruling party’s facility called ‘cadre deployment”, which ensures that the strategic institutions are run by ruling party apparatchiks who would take direct instructions from Luthuli House.

Notwithstanding the tax increases announced in February, the projections of revenue growth have been revised down by R27.4 billion in 2018/19, R24.7 billion in 2019/20 and R33 billion in 2020/21 to the 2018 Budget.  It is difficult to understand where and how the government hopes to raise money in the form of taxes that were announced in February when at the same time the Minister of Finance is saying that tax collection will be decreasing in the next three financial years to come.  Our experience has shown that it is the working people who are taxed more than the companies.

That downward revision also affects the economy that was predicted to grow by 1.5% in February, yet Treasury now puts the growth prediction at 0.7% in 2018.  Yet the National Development Plan (NDP) dreams of a roadmap to 2030 where the unemployment will decrease from today’s 37.2% to an unbelievable 6%.  That’s an unrealisable dream judging by the mismanagement of the economy by the ruling party within the Quarter of a Century they have been in charge.

Consider that the debt is projected to stabilise at 59.6% of GDP in 2023/24, while the currency depreciation accounts for about 70% of the upward revision to gross loan debt in 2018.   Meanwhile, the consolidated budget deficit is estimated at 4% in 2018/19, compared with the 2018 budget projection of 3.6% of GDP.

Mboweni did not mince his words about poorly run and mismanaged State-Owned Companies (SOCs) by the apparatchiks of the ruling party.  This is where major corruption takes place.  Said he: “While some state-owned companies receive funding in the current year, their poor position could burden the public finances over the medium term.  In recent months, deteriorating economic performance and revenue shortfalls have contributed to some spillages in fiscal projections”.  Yet Mboweni will still burden the fiscus with massive bailouts to the poorly run SOCs.

In Mboweni’s words, “SAA has a R19.1 billion government guarantee, R14.5 billion of which has been used.  Debt of R14.2 billion is maturing in or before March 2019.  In 2018/19, government is allocating R5 billion to help the airline repay this debt.  In general, SAA is not generating sufficient cash to repay its total debt and will have to negotiate with lenders to refinance or extend maturity dates”.  The almost captured SARS will also receive R1.4 billion over the next 3 years to help it with efficiencies.  The government cannot continue to be perpetually throwing the taxpayer’s money into a leaking hole.  The SOCs have to be restructured, and their mandate redefined.

AZAPO is shocked by the silence of the Budget Statement at the illicit financial flows. The 2017 Report of the Global Financial Integrity puts South Africa’s financial loss at R1.5 trillion from 2003 to 2012.  That figure represented an estimated 14% of total trade.  While SARS have been deliberately emasculated by the ruling party’s deployees, we know that there has been no political will nor initiative by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Hawks and the NPA to follow these illicit money flows and bring the perpetrators to book.

Instead of strong criminal investigations, the government will rely more on Commissions of Enquiry when it comes to white collar crimes.  Not surprisingly, the Commissions of Enquiry into tax administration and state capture will receive a combined R409 million.

Before delivering his Budget Statement, Mboweni kept shouting about a Public Service Wage Bill and head count that stood at about 80% of the budget.  We now know that was wrong.  The Wage Bill accounts for 35% of government expenditure.  Though it would be tragic, but it would not be unexpected of the ruling party to always target Black workers and the poor when belt-tightening measures have to be implemented.


WHITE RACISM REMAINS IN CHARGE IN SOUTH AFRICA

The gruesome murder of a 16-year-old boy by 2 white men in Coligny in North West serves to remind all of us that it is not yet uhuru; and that apartheid is refusing to die.

Last week Philip Schutte and Pieter Doorewaard were found guilty of murdering Matlhomola Moshoeu by the North West High Court.  The two white farmers murdered Matlhomola by pushing him off a moving bakkie after they had accused him of stealing sunflowers.

That there is racism and apartheid in this country, is alive and well documented.  But the fact that racists such as Schutte and Doorewaard can be so brazen and brave as to commit the kind of brutality that they meted out on the teenage boy is testament to the fact that despite the dawn of democracy on 27 April 1994, the white power structure that supported racists is still firmly in place.

Matlhomola was part of the poor, the landless, the property-less majority who have the vote but without any economic power.  The convicts are part of the rich white tribe that illegally owns the land and the wealth of Azania.  Because of their position of privilege, they believe that Matlhomola is less than human, and can therefore be disposed of simply because he was found with some sunflowers from a white-occupied farm.

That the court has found the two men guilty of murder is a good start.  However, the real struggle should be the economic empowerment of the Black majority so that their lives have meaning.  The restoration of the dignity of Black people is a function of their economic status in society.  The current power relations between white people and Black people are uneven.  Despite the government apparently assumed predominantly by Black politicians, whites know that they are still in charge.  In that little North West town, Matlhomola’s father cannot get employment.  The father told a radio station that the murder of his son has created more hardships for him and his family.  He said when he approached other white farmers and other white business people for employment, they openly told him that he could not be employed because he was behind the arrest and conviction of their white colleagues.

The challenge for those who want to end racism is to double efforts to give land to the Black majority so that they can live off the land, and not rely on the benevolence of white racists.  Black people have to do a little more than relying on land hearings for the Repossession of the Land.  Land reconquest can never be executed through land hearings.


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