– Economic redress has enemies in all corners –
In the aftermath of the now well covered and analysed ANC NDC hearing and its counter arguments, perhaps it is time to ask the question is the Economic Redress debate or potential CODESA 3 buried in this DC hearing and if so what could be the reasons for such legitimate case to be filed in the infamous cabinet 13 (dustbin)?
From the first day the ANCYL raised the issue of Economic Redress and an economic revolution as their new mantra, it discovered that such debate has enemies in all sectors of what constitutes the South African community. It found that not only are the objectors to such debate present in external oppositional definition but also in organisational context. With the hearing now up for an appeal the question that captured my mental occupation was did whomever succeed to reduce our just and overdue call into an dispensable like all individual defined as Julius Malema.
Let me also for the record repeat my assertion, I am on record for having said that Malema in my books is not by design the face of this economic redress but he is by-default the face of such economic redress contention.
This means an error is committed on both sides on the one side there are those who truly believe dealing with a Malema in whatever way and by whatever means will finally stop this newfound energy to argue for such claim. On the other hand those who support a Malema have defined Malema and less the ANCYL as the true champion of such cause without whom the economic struggle cannot do. Both groups often are led by their emotions and at times prove blackmailing from those who disagree. The multiplicity of views that has played out in our public discourse clearly draw these definitive lines as to what this hearing means for a justified call for overdue redress.
I thought what could potentially be the reason for a stifling and ultimate death of the economic redress debate and herewith shall cite fifteen possible reasons as my prism of thought on such.
1. The economic redress debate is long no more a black and white debate, for since post-1994 there are a few very high powered black individuals and families who truly have been fast -tracked out of such debate fuelled by empowerment deals and all manner of opportunities as visibly but stirred apartheid economy presented.
Today in SA this powerful group of black elites and new wealthy ones, has formed a wedge of protection for white wealth and a gulf of aspiration for blacks who aspire and dream of a day in which economic freedom will not be for a selected few. When I argue a hedge for white wealth, it is to say, if there is truly today economic redress in SA, the very wealth obtained by white facilitation and share options, loans and debts bed rocked in political connectedness, will be eroded and also come under threat and question. The Economic redress debate therefore holds a threat to both white and black elite.
2. The post- apartheid black elite is not a pure business elite, which has a track record of entrepreneurial pursuit, manifested in history, (there are a few who date from before democracy) but the majority fell into these opportunities that legislation compels and dictates.
The challenge therefore is if these are not organic entrepreneurs but politically empowered ones it raises the critical question is the debate potentially stifled by their conjoined roles of calling for a national democratic revolution and from the same mouth defending this apartheid based economy as shareholders in such. Does this conflation of political power not confuse the debate, for if in practical sense I was empowered by a BEE deal, that made me part of the Black Elite, at the hands of a Anglo? How do I call for economic redress definitive in mass beneficiary context and not hurt myself ?
3. Is it not possible that the very ones who were empowered constitute a carefully selected few, handpicked by those who illegitimately own SA Inc, for the very intention of denying the very masses their rightful claim of such. Can the case be made that these were ‘headhunted’ for their political powers and reasonable appetite to prove soluble to allow individual rights to rule over community rights.
4. True economic redress will call for the land issue starting with the rightful claim of firstly the Khoisan people and then the Black majority and their equal claim to the mineral issue to be discussed in glaring terms. As we know from pass debates and as Malema and the ANCYL have found in South Africa talking about land is a taboo subject and an aorta for some. These want SA to remain the way it is where 86% is owned by 12% of the population entrenched by a sacrosanct constitution that inculcates a bill of rights that entrenches the rights of individuals be such in ownership etc.
5. Economic Redress does not resonate well with post apartheid Black intellectuals for these argue from the vestiges of liberalist thought construct in which they maintain the contours of this debate informed by a contention of a democracy as a superlative to redress. These now defend democracy as a democracy that must not find meaning cognisant of apartheid past, injustices and they advocate for a South African identity of equality that decries the injustices of the racially real and co-existing duplexes.
They argue we must work for a South African citizenry that enforces equality yet such equality is not visible in the abject poverty and abuse of the Northern Cape where mines have raped communities and left them high and dry Nor the pain and agony of a Lenyenye deep in Limpopo. The same academics argue for a tolerance and restraint and a respect for civil liberties unconscious of the now clearly forgotten past for their homes, their swimming pools, their hunting expeditions, their “rooi – wyntjies” with white academics have given them a sense of being devoid of the black masses, affording them a status equal to those who determine the meridian if intellectualism.
6. It is my view that some of the icons of our struggle have in recent years proven less discerning of the threat of unemployment and poverty and have equally fallen into the trap of wealth which blinds them from seeing the plight of the people for these plead for a patience when the people have been patient while their children and grandchildren live large, in foreign countries and their estates multiplied with international pop stars who supports their foundations with many euros, dollars and much publicity. Yes money does change our tune.
7. Corporate SA’s response to this debate remains that of recalcitrance, it remains a hostile response less informed by dialogue and reason but evidenced in fear tactics and rhetoric. It is hostile for it shows itself clearly in the BUSA rumblings it shows itself in the commentary of leading business captains that argue the debate is not to be embraced.
The ANCYL Youth League tabled a Nationalisation debate, this may be wrong or right yet Corporate SA never engaged such, never gave their counter to such, nor their solution for this impending catastrophe. One knows Corporate SA is not serious when Black Business expresses their misgivings and distrust with their White Business counterparts, as shown over and over again and again. The truculence one senses are mind-boggling and the defiance is more than mortal.
8. The economic redress may never rise because organized labour, the voice and vanguard of the proletariat or workers defined as poor is in bed with the owners of the means of production the same they argue, toyi- toyi against and meet in chambers yet they will share in a month from today dividends and argue why their companies and investment products did not perform as anticipated.
They will trade their struggle gear of red t-shirts, revolutionary caps and khaki waist coats for gala dinners tuxedo’s and shareholder Giorgio Armani suits and share the spoils of the non job creating economy and watch their bank balances grow, while they speak against the subject of crass materialism manifest in tenderpreneurs when they plowing at the same trough.
9. The economic redress may fail for in this depressing global context first world countries stagger under the uncontrollable weights of challenge of economic crises. If the USA, Europe and others are the base, it confirms that the globe have not found solutions for the ticking timebombs of unemployment that races expeditiously to its unknown end in all nations as floods of the only true majority of the world according the UNCHR statistics, namely the youth begin to express their dissatisfaction.
Their discontent is not having what they rightfully deserve as job opportunities, and access to education and economic opportunities. With the globe not finding solutions and jobs being shed all over, the case can be made the challenge of economic redress must find a backburner somewhere less visible for macro economic must take centre stage. The November figures for manufacturing as a sector shows grave job shedding in South Africa context.
10. The economic redress may be stifled by the very Plan delivered by the Planning Commission, which emphasized an entrenching of the known typical business focus dictates of a hidden GEAR pretext. The Planning Commission delivered their report of where we should be; it asks again that the masses be patient. It argues in its preamble that SA has the means, wealth, skills and resources to eradicate poverty, yet it argues for give and takes without disturbing the equilibrium of economic well-being, an impossibility in practical implementation.
It argues that change is a process and yet it entrenches the dictates of constitutional expression, which in my assessment prove the very undoing of the economic redress debate, when such fail to challenge the wealth of those who have but rather entrenches such wealth.
My fear with this plan lays not in its preamble but in its workability. One wishes that 3 basic areas could have been identified and defined in flagship context for dealing with a future plan. Yet we make the same mistake so akin to Democratic SA, where we seek to address all issues when we cannot do all as proven by our post democratic history. I am still arguing for a flagship initiative on planning immanent in 3 critical areas with clear milestones.
11. The Dream of economic redress can fail for South Africans have been sold the idea of a rude, unruly and controversial Malema and these believe the economic debate is only a means to an end for a Malema and his cohorts to steal more from state coffers. The lobby groups for this argument of such abuse of the poor have gained momentum and these continue to spread the “gospel” of Malema plus Economic redress equals corruption, hence a support of the economic redress debate is a support for an individual, the same they argue has a penchant for the entrapments of capitalistic self -centredness.
12. The economic redress question could easily be usurped by opposition politics that may find the ANC’s silence on such redress, and departure of an individual as a pristine opportunity to argue for filing that space, to raise the right issues that ANCYL raised proving the ANC as reluctant
13. Economic redress, will remain a pipe-dream for as long no formal debate around the First Nation status of the indigenous people of South Africa as a UNDRIP resolutions is entertained in our Cabinet, National Parliament and Provincial Legislatures. The debates have not been forthcoming and the current traditional affairs bill in draft form does no justice to the rightful claim of the Khoisan people, for it equates them a status similar to other traditional leaders at the expense of their internationally recognised and declared right of First Nation Status the same no Parliament in Democratic SA has ever debated, for reasons less known but open for mighty suspicion.
14. Economic Redress, can be court cased and held in Constitutional Court corridors as those who have the means demand the right to have their constitutional rights respected arguing in the name of democracy against such redress as legitimate case and find sentimental support in such legal context.
15. Economic redress runs the risk of being done in for Provincial Land Claims Commissioners it can be argued have proven soluble and have shown disrespect for the rights of the masses to own if some finalise settlements and claims may attest as prove of such corrupt practices in which claims can be twigged to have outcomes that works against the claimants instead of for them.
Yet having cited all of this, I hold the hope out that the debate will not die, I argue that new faces will emerge, new voices will rise that may or may not be in ANC organizational context. Perhaps the ANC may now see the need to fill the gap with a true conviction that the masses are owed their rightful economic claims. Perhaps it is time for the Church to begin again to lead this process similar to how it led when the ANC was in exile and the voices diminished.
This is indeed a Kairos Moment that demands leadership for economic redress manifested in economic freedom in my lifetime is more than a slogan but a legitimate demand, the same which cannot be filed in cabinet 13, it will be a travesty of justice, and reduce us to all other African Countries who firstly went politically free and 50 years later is yet to find such economic freedom, when only a handful of blacks are beneficiaries of empowerment the same who now compromise the very empowerment of the masses.
Clyde N. S. Ramalaine,
Is an independent observer and this article comes courtesy of his soon to be published book ”Tradewinds are Blowing” – thoughts on contemporary Global political discourse.