Is the SA show friend or foe?

CityPress - - Business - FRANS CRONJE busi­ness@city­press.co.za MZWANELE MANYI busi­ness@city­press.co.za

ho are the en­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion? This ques­tion arises from a slide that was shown at a re­cent meet­ing of the Black Man­age­ment Fo­rum de­pict­ing the In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions as “an en­emy of trans­for­ma­tion”.

The slide was shown by Jimmy Manyi in his ca­pac­ity as head of the Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als’ Fo­rum. The fo­rum is a sus­pected front or­gan­i­sa­tion for the ANC. It was set up to stop the out­flow of black mid­dle class sup­port from the ANC by putting pres­sure on young, black pro­fes­sion­als to align them­selves with the party if they wanted to ad­vance in busi­ness.

The In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions’ op­po­si­tion to af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion and “em­pow­er­ment”, as prac­tised by the ANC, is well doc­u­mented. Our view is that these poli­cies are a means to en­rich a small group of po­lit­i­cally con­nected busi­ness lead­ers and cor­rupt gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

They of­fer noth­ing to the poor and the un­em­ployed. In fact, in the past two decades, while more than R500 bil­lion was spent on “em­pow­er­ment deals”, the num­ber of un­em­ployed peo­ple rose from 3.6 mil­lion to 8.3 mil­lion.

What the ANC and Manyi call “em­pow­er­ment” will not change this. Rather, it is em­pow­er­ment for the very rich that of­ten comes at the ex­pense of the very poor. It is in­sult­ing and deeply racist, con­sid­er­ing that the ma­jor­ity of the poor are black.

We must be clear about who the real en­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion are.

They are the com­pa­nies who pay bribes to win in­flated gov­ern­ment ten­ders and so steal an es­ti­mated R30 bil­lion a year di­rectly from South Africa’s peo­ple.

They are the coun­cil­lors who ap­point their friends and fam­ily to se­nior jobs while wa­ter pumps break down and refuse is not col­lected.

They in­clude the busi­ness lead­ers who say they sup­port af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion, yet ap­point black staff to jobs with no re­spon­si­bil­ity.

They are the ten­der­preneurs who built Nkandla and the of­fi­cials who gave them the con­tracts.

They in­clude the po­lice­men who killed the strik­ing mine work­ers at Marikana, and the of­fi­cers and politi­cians who sent them there.

The gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who ask for bribes from in­vestors – who build their fac­to­ries in other coun­tries rather than pay­ing a bribe – are en­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion.

So, too, are the nurses who al­low pa­tients to die on the street out­side public hos­pi­tals. The Cab­i­net min­is­ters who de­stroy jobs in tourism. The land depart­ment of­fi­cials who de­lay sound land resti­tu­tion claims. The cadres who in­tim­i­date the Public Pro­tec­tor, threaten the in­de­pen­dent media and ig­nore court or­ders.

The hous­ing depart­ment staff who al­low des­ti­tute pen­sion­ers to die in squalor while gov­ern­ment lawyers squab­ble in courts. And the metro cops who burn hawk­ers’ stalls.

These are all en­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion and yet each one of them is an ex­am­ple of the ANC’s “trans­for­ma­tion” poli­cies in ac­tion.

What we need in­stead are em­pow­er­ment and af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion poli­cies that im­prove the lives of all South Africans. We must hold ex­ist­ing poli­cies up to scru­tiny and in­sist on bet­ter op­tions. Oth­er­wise, South Africa will never achieve re­dress for the wrongs of apartheid.

Cronje is CEO of the SA In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions he Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als’ Fo­rum is an in­de­pen­dent, non­ra­cial, non-xeno­pho­bic and non-Afro­pho­bic or­gan­i­sa­tion draw­ing its mem­ber­ship from across all pro­fes­sions with a vi­sion to be­ing the think-tank of South Africa.

The fo­rum is un­apolo­get­i­cally and unashamedl­y pro-ANC. We be­lieve the ANC is the only or­gan­i­sa­tion whose poli­cies and pro­grammes are re­spon­si­ble for the growth of the black mid­dle class, the back­bone of this econ­omy.

En­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion, like the DA, Sol­i­dar­ity, AfriFo­rum, the Free Mar­ket Foun­da­tion and the SA In­sti­tute of Race Re­la­tions, con­tinue to un­der­mine our in­tel­li­gence by mak­ing po­lit­i­cally cor­rect state­ments that sound pro­gres­sive when, in fact, they har­bour racist un­der­tones.

They are quick to use the fail­ure of some peo­ple as an ex­cuse to gen­er­alise and la­bel all black peo­ple and the ANC as in­com­pe­tent and cor­rupt. They con­tinue to stig­ma­tise race to main­tain and ex­ac­er­bate in­equal­i­ties for self­ish in­ter­ests.

Some of them, like Sol­i­dar­ity, have taken em­ploy­ment eq­uity cases to court and lost all of them. The court rul­ings af­firmed the cred­i­bil­ity of the Em­ploy­ment Eq­uity Act – which was found to be ra­tio­nal and con­sti­tu­tion­ally sound. The DA uses black peo­ple on the front line, yet their poli­cies con­tinue to en­trench and pro­tect white priv­i­lege.

These en­e­mies of trans­for­ma­tion con­tinue to feed a false and tired nar­ra­tive that posits a view that broad-based

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at R1.50 black eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment ben­e­fits a few con­nected elite. This is de­spite abun­dant ev­i­dence to the con­trary.

Leon Louw of the Free Mar­ket Foun­da­tion was rudely awo­ken by his own re­search team to the fol­low­ing facts:

The num­ber of black peo­ple earn­ing more than R400 000 a year grew 1 000%, from 120 000 to 1.2 mil­lion, be­tween 2000 and last year; 90% of these are in the pri­vate sec­tor.

The black mid­dle class grew 333%, from 1.8 mil­lion to 6 mil­lion.

Be­tween 1996 and 2011, to­tal black dis­pos­able in­come grew 370%, from R161 mil­lion to R756 mil­lion, and per­sonal in­come grew 300%. There are more mid­dle class blacks in for­merly white sub­urbs than the en­tire white pop­u­la­tion.

Black lit­er­acy is up 50% since 1994. Youth il­lit­er­acy is nearly nonex­is­tent at 4%. Black life ex­pectancy de­fied Aids and rose from the age of 53 to 60 in five years be­tween 2006 and 2011. Pri­vate schools are 72% black, and blacks have more than half of all de­grees. Blacks liv­ing on less than $2 a day fell from 16% to 2.5% since 1996. You be the judge.

The Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als’ Fo­rum does not con­done the ridicu­lous over­pric­ing by cer­tain black ser­vice providers who give am­mu­ni­tion to the doom­say­ers.

It is cru­cial, how­ever, to un­der­line the de­fec­tive­ness and un­con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the Pref­er­en­tial Pro­cure­ment Pol­icy Frame­work Act – which failed to ful­fil its in­tended ob­jec­tive of em­pow­er­ing the his­tor­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged by cre­at­ing cat­e­gories of pref­er­ence.

In­stead, the act re­wards the low­est price as en­vis­aged in sec­tion 217 (1) to the detri­ment of its own found­ing en­act­ment. This law seeks to marginalis­e black busi­ness and en­trench white oli­gop­ol­ies. It must be sus­pended with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, and the en­tire public ser­vice must be ex­empted from it.

Manyi is pres­i­dent of the Pro­gres­sive Pro­fes­sion­als’ Fo­rum

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