SOUTH AFRICA’S ECONOMIC SHIP SINKS EVEN DEEPER
The South African economic ship is directionless. The ruling party, which is its captain, is steering it straight to a mountain of an iceberg. The economy is in a similar situation of the Titanic ship, which was considered “unsinkable” until it actually sunk after hitting an iceberg. The tragedy of the Titanic wreckage is the leadership of that ship pretended that nothing was happening when the ship was in fact sinking. They were still wining and dining as though nothing wrong was happening.
We thought of the story of that “unsinkable” hip when Statistician General Risenga Maluleke announced on Tuesday that the South African economy shrunk by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019. This is the first major contraction since 2009 when the economy dropped by 6.1% in the first quarter during that global economic meltdown. One of the sectors that suffered most is the manufacturing with the drop of 8.8%. This means the worsening of the plight of the poor people, who are generally Black people.
This monumental disaster happens when we already know that about 10 million people are jobless, while 30 million people live below the poverty line. We need to emphasise that this contraction of the economy happened when the ANC was in power, and when Cyril Ramaphosa was the country’s President with his promises of “Thuma Mina” and “New Dawn”. In other words, when the people were promised gold and silver if they voted to give the ruling party another 5 years in power, the gold and silver had already gone under the drain.
As the Titanic leadership were wining and dining at the Pretoria-based Results Operations Centre where Ramaphosa announced economic reform plans to fix what he refers to as “9 lost years”, the horses had already bolted. There were no horses for the people to ride.
It explains why it was only 27 million of the 37 million eligible voters who went on to register to vote for the 2019 Elections. Add to that picture that only 17 million of that 27 million registered voters who ended up voting. All in all, 20 million “voters” gave the South African political and economic system under the ruling party a loud vote of no confidence!
This paints a sorry picture of a leaderless country. The leadership void is clearly manifested in the policy mayhem that is tearing the ruling capacity of the ANC into pieces. Both their last Conferences found the ruling party painting itself into a corner by adopting policies that are in conflict with its general economic line. And this happened because the ruling party was “stealing stolen goods”.
During the Jacob Zuma administration, the ruling party took a political posture of “radical economic transformation” (RET) whose beat, rhythm and sound had nothing to do with them. The problem is not that they told a lie; but that they believed that lie. Their competition with the EFF messed them up big time. The EFF called the ruling party’s bluff by moving a motion in parliament to expropriate the land without compensation. In a mode of knee-jerk reaction, the ruling party rejected the land reform proposal being oblivious to the fact that it had already adopted a similar position under the duress of populism and political opportunism. In a sense, the ruling party became jealous of the immediate public appeal of this proposed policy by the EFF. But the EFF was not shy to tell the people of the Pan Afrikanist and Black Consciousness origin of those policies.
Around this time in 2018, parliament adopted a watered down “land expropriation without compensation” motion after the EFF agreed to the ANC’s negative amendment. What was adopted was now talking about expropriating unused patches of barren land in a manner that would not undermine food security and economic sustainability. We now have what the EFF did not want, nor what the ANC is prepared to implement in the face of hostile capitalism and imperialism. Notwithstanding that the policy position adopted was no longer on land but soil, Ramaphosa was summoned by the imperialist leaders like Trump, May and Merkel to explain the “silly things” that the ruling party was busy mumbling. That is the leaderless situation South Africa finds itself in.
Yet on that Tuesday of the announcement of the passing of that compromised policy (amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution), the rand experienced a huge drop of 1.4% to R11.75 to the dollar. A Black Conscious organisation like AZAPO is the first to know that its socialist policies do not impress the rand. We know that the rand and the capitalist markets would panic in terms of flight and depreciation of the rand. But AZAPO would transform the fundamentals of the capitalist economy before it implemented its socialist policies. It would not implement socialist policies in a capitalist economic system. That does not work. The mess is even more smelly if the capitalist economy punishes the poor people for the empty threats by the black managerial class to implement socialist-sounding policies which they do not believe in, in the first place.
It is perhaps becoming clearer why AZAPO would not get funding from the capitalist companies, which fund capitalist political parties.
Another policy mess that is presently compromising the economy is the speaking of the ruling party with a forked tongue on the question on the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). As a socialist organisation, AZAPO adopted from its inception the policy position of the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank based on its socialist line of a Centrally Planned Economy. The EFF was able to shout about the nationalisation of the SARB through its sound amplifiers. Once again, political jealousy crept in. The nationalisation line, which is more commonly linked to a socialist economy, was adopted by the ruling party.
The ruling party campaigned on the line of the SARB nationalisation so as to sound a bit radical. Now that the voter believed that he has voted for the nationalisation of the SARB, the ruling party is already talking a different language. They have now dumped their conference policy position of nationalising the SARB as they promised the voters. The billionaire or capitalist that Ramaphosa is, he would never have allowed the implementation of a policy that tampers with the private ownership of the SARB. In its recent “NEC Lekgotla”, the ruling party’s Secretary General promised the nation at a media briefing that the SARB was to be nationalised. Several ruling party leaders, including Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, immediately contradicted that public announcement by promising the capitalist markets that the SARB would remain untouched as a privately-owned entity. Ramaphosa has now made it clear in a statement that the nationalisation of the SARB is indeed the ruling party’s policy, but it would not be implemented by the government because it was not a wise policy move.
Karl Marx’s peer Proudhon wrote a book with the title “Philosophy of Poverty”. Marx responded by writing a book with the title “Poverty of Philosophy” as a critique to Proudhon’s. It may just be that South Africa has no poverty of leadership, but only a leadership of poverty.
UNFAIR TREATMENT OF BLACK MEDICAL DOCTORS
Our political ancestor, Bantu Biko once observed that “the most potent tool in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”. This is very profound.
There are many instances where the behaviour of the governing party confirms Biko’s prophetic words. Recently, hundreds of Black health professionals have been complaining that Discovery has destroyed their businesses. The health professionals, mainly GPs, say that many of their colleagues have been pushed out of business because of the bullying tactics by Discovery. The doctors say the medical scheme administrator has blacklisted many of them and advised patients not to use their services and that should they use the services of these Black professionals, the medical aid would not settle the medical bills.
Black doctors say they have been subjected to unfair audits which only targeted Black health professionals. There was a huge outcry in the media, following the apparent targeting of Black professionals.
And what was the response of the Black government? A media statement condemning the practice, basically saying that no medical scheme administrator has a right to withhold payments which are due to health professionals.
The government does not seem to fully appreciate the power it wields. Government cannot join the verbal condemnations of those perpetrating injustices on others. It must act to ensure that justice is done.
But the bigger problem is that of Black people. Black people are the majority of more than 80 percent in this country, yet they often complain against racism perpetrated by the minority. Black people must understand that the racism that is visited on them on a daily basis is not by accident. No amount of preaching is going to convert racists to suddenly treat Black people with dignity. Black people have to effectively decide to render the white man irrelevant.
There is a Black government in this country. Black people are a majority in this country. Why is it that Black people cannot form their own institutions, including the Medical Schemes, that will not discriminate against Black people? Why?
Why should Black people beg white people to accept money of Black people? This is simply absurd.
If Black people can be organised and establish their own institutions, they would not be subjected to racism. In fact, white businesses would beg them for business. But the starting point is the freeing of the mind first. Like Biko said, “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
FOCUS ON QUALITY EDUCATION IN TOWNSHIPS
Gauteng Premier David Makhura has caved in following public pressure and re-appointed Panyaza Lesufi back to the post of MEC for Education in the province. If comments by members of the public are a barometer of performance, it can be concluded that Lesufi has been doing a good job.
One of the key performance indicators in education is the matric results. In the last matric results, Gauteng has out-performed Western Cape to become the best performing province in the country. For that, Lesufi has our unqualified support.
Lesufi is a hands-on politician. He had made it his mission to ensure that former white public schools, also known as Model C schools, are opened to all races. It is a fact that many white parents, using powers of school governing bodies that are almost exclusively white, devised several tricks to keep black learners away from these schools. Some of the most potent tools for exclusion are language and addresses of the applicant learner. In other words, the SGB would pass a resolution that states that the medium of instruction at a particular school would be Afrikaans. Many Afrikan parents would not like their children to learn in Afrikaans and this would be an effective barrier to entry. The SGB would also insist that children from the nearby suburbs, within the 5km radius, should be given preference to children coming out of the area where the school is located. This meant the exclusion of many children coming from the townships.
To his credit, Lesufi saw through these schemes of denying Afrikan children access to former Model C schools and introduced new registration criteria that made it possible for Afrikan children to access these former whites only schools. In terms of the new regulations, the radius has been increased to 30km, meaning that children from the townships cannot be denied admission to these former Model C schools on the basis of their addresses. That is Lesufi’s good legacy, but it is just the first step.
The view of AZAPO is that the ultimate test of the success of transforming our education system should lie in the provision of equal quality of education for learners, regardless of race or socio-economic class. Learners in Diepdale Secondary in Diepkloof, Soweto should get the same quality of education as their counterparts in Hyde Park Secondary. If education authorities can ensure that learners in the township have the same quality of education, with all its perks in terms of facilities, to the education that is provided in the former Model C schools, then Black parents would not be forced to smuggle their children into the former white schools. Black children would not be forced to wake up as early as 4am to start their long ‘trek” to schools. They would walk to school to get quality education. Currently there is no quality education in many of the township schools.
Lesufi’s focus must now shift towards townships where the majority of our people live. This should be the real test of his performance.
To print and read the pdf version, please click here ⇒ AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 21
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ONE AZANIA ! ONE NATION !