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Ramaphosa bemoans ‘apartheid beneficiaries’ failure to address the past

IOL reports that Cyril Ramaphosa has slammed those he called beneficiaries of apartheid injustices for shying away from government efforts to address the legacy of the past.

According to the report Ramaphosa did this during the 8th Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa lamented how those who had benefited from apartheid shied away from dealing with its legacy.

According to TimesLIVE, Ramaphosa said that the land issue must be dealt with in order to break the cycles of poverty caused by Apartheid, and that doing so would restore dignity to our people.

My Take

Land redistribution isn’t a magical panacea for solving poverty. Solving poverty requires a sustained effort over a long period – you need the poor to get an income.

If you look at Zimbabwe, the land was redistributed but the new landowners didn’t particularly benefit – because they didn’t have the finance or the skillset required to make it work.

This meant that in 2008, Zimbabwe suffered such hyper-inflation that it lost its currency. Supply simply stopped.

eNCA reports that Zimbabwe has currently run out of fuel, and is facing food shortages. There are no quick fixes.

Overall this speech bugs me.

The ANC has been talking about transformation since 1994. We have repeatedly had government telling us all about how they are dealing with the legacy of the past, and over that time unemployment has gotten worse.

There was only one year where unemployment went under 20% since the start of the ANC’s run.

If you look at our unemployment stats, we have massive racial biases in just who is getting jobs – white unemployment is much lower than black unemployment.

A big chunk of this is because if you look at education, there are systemic failures all through the country and these failures hit poor, rural areas far worse than richer urban ones. We have schools where going to the toilet is for the dare-devils.

The reason I for one find this repeated emphasis on the past from the ANC irritating is because look at Ramaphosa’s deputy – David Mabuza. According to The New York Times, Mabuza took funds that were supposed to go to Mpumalanga’s schools and used them to buy favour within the ANC.

I don’t care half as much about the legacy of the past, as the legacy of the present. Inequality in South Africa is not some historic injustice that happened 24 years ago, it is something that is with us right now.

And we keep getting the exact same speeches delivered from the same party by different mouths and they keep expecting us to buy their dodge.

Because dodging is what Ramaphosa is doing, he’s trying to blame those who are not in power for the failures of those who are.

Government exists in order to take on projects which individuals on their own cannot – transforming the economy is not something an individual can do.

Individual businesses have to act in the interests of their shareholders, this strictly limits how much they can transform the economy.

One of the issues with society and how it works is the problem of cooperation and competition.

If everyone but one person acts selflessly, that one person takes so much advantage that they end up owning everything.

Publicly traded business has to compete, it is has to be that one person, because each individual business has to maximise its growth.

You’d think profits, but that isn’t as important as growth for shareholders who aren’t buying shares in order to get dividends but rather in order to sell them on.

This is why we have things like the competitions board, and regulators in general. Publicly traded business, which is to say big business requires government to force it to cooperate, because otherwise it has to act like that one person in order to perform its fiduciary duties.

And if you get to wealthy individuals, they still have limited resources, specifically information –  if you live in Sandton, you likely don’t know the problems of Mashisheng.

Many of the problems we need to face as a country aren’t photogenic, don’t come with an inspiring story, and are in fact boring. This isn’t generally an easy sell so far as charity is concerned.

The private sector came to the party when it elected the government, it came to the party when it paid its taxes, it comes to the party when it obeys the laws set by the government.

The problem is the government has these meetings like the recent get-together with business to discuss the economy, and expects that to magically solve everything without ever having to actually govern.

Think about the Listeria crisis – our cold meat suppliers said no to regulation and that was that. Where was government’s willingness to put its foot down? Children died, and has anything changed?

Don’t whinge about privilege when you’re not doing your bit. The power that was vested in the ANC was supposed to be used, instead we got decades of excuses for why it wasn’t.

The most popular has been when whoever the president of the day has been, shifting the responsibility of government to non-government, talking about the past when our problems are situated in the right now.

  • Picture courtesy of GCIS via Flickr.

 

 

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