It’s time to rein in those bu­reau­crats

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@ city­press. co. za

Where I grew up, ev­ery­body smug­gled some­thing – the prob­lem was the avail­abil­ity of that some­thing. Ev­ery Sun­day, par­ents went to church to ask the good Lord for their ra­tion of daily bread, but be­cause the Lord stopped dish­ing out manna, they spent the rest of the week on the shady streets col­lect­ing that bread in the form of gold dust and un­cut di­a­monds, which were illegal but not sin­ful.

I re­mem­ber a friend of mine telling me al­most 30 years ago that for R2 000 he could get a rhino horn and “move” it to Zim­babwe, where he made some money, and then use the pro­ceeds to pay for his univer­sity fees.

The media was too busy tak­ing sides in the fight against apartheid, and was un­in­ter­ested in the lives of black smug­glers or the cor­rupt of­fi­cials (black and white) who is­sued dom­passes for money or sex.

No one paid at­ten­tion to those who were climb­ing what Mal­colm Glad­well calls the “crooked lad­der” of so­cial mo­bil­ity.

Let’s be hon­est, South Africa was in the main not built by eth­i­cal busi­ness­men. In­stead, it was fash­ioned by many cor­rupt men who plun­dered, killed and op­pressed to make money for them­selves and their off­spring.

In fact, most of the Western world was built that way – whether through slav­ery, colo­nial­ism or any other form of ex­ploita­tion.

Strangely, their de­scen­dants, who are of­ten the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of such cor­rup­tion, get out­raged when oth­ers try to fol­low the same path. This is why peo­ple turn a deaf ear to some white peo­ple when they raise their voices against cor­rup­tion. These peo­ple lack cred­i­bil­ity be­cause they will not re­turn any of their wealth that was il­lic­itly gained. Their minds have con­ve­niently for­got­ten their history, but once in while it will slip out and they will proudly say that their “grand­par­ents came here with noth­ing”.

But let’s not mea­sure our­selves us­ing the same sub­hu­man scale used to glo­rify slavers such as Thomas Jef­fer­son and the Mother of All Bru­tal­ity, Queen Vic­to­ria.

Our job is to give the chil­dren of this coun­try op­por­tu­ni­ties, love and com­pas­sion. Six mil­lion jobs is our tar­get, in what ... the next two years?

If we are to achieve that, the South African gov­ern­ment must ur­gently re­form the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and make it eas­ier for small and medium-sized en­ter­prises to thrive.

Dur­ing apartheid, many white en­trepreneurs could buy a shelf com­pany and start trad­ing im­me­di­ately. Times have changed, and you can do lit­tle with a shelf com­pany now. The black gov­ern­ment has made it hellishly hard for black en­trepreneurs.

Per­haps there is some truth in the say­ing “umuntu om­nyama aka­funi ukubona omunye umuntu aqhubekela pham­bili” (a black per­son doesn’t want to see another black per­son progress).

Per­haps the gov­ern­ment min­is­ters who like to tweet about their ex­cesses at par­ties and so­cial events de­lib­er­ately want to keep ev­ery­one down. Per­haps the depart­ment of home af­fairs is de­lib­er­ately look­ing for new and wicked ways to kill tourism so more black peo­ple can be laid off and suf­fer.

Why is our gov­ern­ment not fight­ing teenage preg­nancy and other mill­stones that the so­ci­ety puts around the necks of our girls?

Our peo­ple suf­fered for gen­er­a­tions un­der white rule and ev­ery path to suc­cess was blocked. To see the demo­cratic gov­ern­ment do the same thing to black en­trepreneurs is not only im­moral but a crime against Africans.

It is time to put peo­ple first and get bu­reau­cratic power un­der con­trol.

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