The student protests have brought about lots of change but one of the greatest outcomes is the level of discussion it’s garnered. We’ve heard how ‘unrealistic’ free tertiary education, R12bn cost of yearly dropouts and the Economic Freedom Fighters march to the JSE. In the piece below Bongani Ncgobo looks at the current political leadership and how it has failed on all sides. He fears the talk of nationalisation, which reared its head off the back of the march, as people need jobs to sustain and the promise of giving shares and land to the state or working class is an economic joke, in any language. A fascinating read. – Stuart Lowman
By Bongani Ngcobo*
*Bongani Ngcobo is a former media and investor relations manager at 8Mile Advisory. He specialises in PR, media, BEE, investor relations, corporate identity and image identity.
The month of October came to an end, however it marked a new phenomenon in South Africa. A born free generation whose inheritance is an economic slow down and a political leadership vacuum.
However one can not help but admire this generation of university students for their tenacity and ability to accomplish a national protest movement which challenged not only the political establishment. Intellectuals running our biggest universities faced the wrath of a first born free mass protest.
Fast forward to the Economic Freedom Fighters ultimatum to the JSE, which left many unfazed myself included. A 51% stake handed over to employees of all listed entities. I cannot help but wonder what economic advisers of the left are smoking. Winston Churchill said “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy, inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” The leftist thought in South Africa is not that of enterprise development, incentives to growing industries and easier access to the SME space for potential entrepreneurs.
Political leadership on all sides have failed. Opposition parties have failed to lead on genuine grievances of civil society. Communication with the economically and socially disenfranchised has been dismal. Hence opposition politicians where booed by protesting students purely because they are not in the forefront of their problems which began just after the majority of #FeesMustFall students where born in 1994.
Civil society protest on a number of issues which ranges from corruption in government to rape against the elderly in rural areas, farm attacks, gangster-ism on the rise in many communities to disgruntled rural communities with water shortages.
Leftist hogwash is the order of the day with promises of a better future. A future that land is handed over to those who want it and taking over mines and the so-called monopoly industries. Poor people are being fed a promise, which is a one-way ticket to nowhere. Disenfranchised communities living in poverty can only be economically liberated through policies that are business “friendly.”
The levels of poverty allow populist thought to distort an economic quagmire the country is facing. Intellectuals and business leaders are not part of the debate, big business CEOs are missing in action, as out of touch policies are debated without them. Some say these business leaders are afraid to speak out against government wrongdoing.
A political alternative will not emerge out of ANC incompetence; it will come from communities who have been neglected socially and economically by the political elite. People across the country have grass root movements to represent their grievances. Opposition parties are a no show before news headlines and cameras. They will always be seen as hijackers of these protests whenever they show up to show solidarity in service delivery protests, student protest and other protests.
Populists thrive on “us” against “them”, the rich against the poor, big business causes poverty or unemployment, the working class against oppressive employers. As 2015 come to an end, a coalition led by expelled COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and labour union NUMSA and others will be launched. This will pose as a united front oppose to all the wrongs of the ANC led government, however its rhetoric on economic prosperity of the country will be nothing new, as matter of fact it will be a cut and paste of the SACP, SADTU and EFF socialism hogwash. The disillusioned will not have a shortage of demagogues in local elections come 2016.
Those outside the outside the far left are waiting for the ruling party to fall on its sword which is highly unlikely in the near future, ideas outside the left are vague clarity on a number of policies is unavailable. The official opposition Democratic Alliance needs to be crystal clear regarding the black middle class because in the near future the fees must fall protesters will be a huge chunk of this class. Contradictions on affirmative action and employment equity will affect every born free graduate between now and 2019 general elections and possibly beyond.
The two economy state phenomenon does not only create fertile ground for populists, its mere existence leads not only the poor it drags all of us into a future of demagogue hell of political economic finger pointing, with threats of nationalisation.
Economic growth and job creation slowing down we need more than ever before a contest in different thoughts on a way forward. How do key industries and entrepreneurs benefit from policies that seek to incentivise job creators? Policies which seek to boost productivity in agriculture, mining, the services sector and SME’s.
A promise of giving shares and land to the state or the working class is unsustainable in any language, an economic joke of note. People need jobs to sustain themselves not nationalisation.
Bottom line is as long as poverty, inequality and joblessness is a reality, demagogues will be the identity of our political reality.