Our econ­omy has hit the skids and the na­tion is suf­fer­ing at the hands of our schem­ing pres­i­dent. He now

CityPress - - Voices & Careers -

The sit­u­a­tion is dire. The coun­try is in re­volt, and calls for Zuma to re­sign have crescen­doed. From or­di­nary cit­i­zens and op­po­si­tion par­ties to civil groups such as Save SA and ANC vet­er­ans, count­less South Africans have in­di­cated they want change.

These groups be­lieve Zuma is out to line his own pock­ets, as well as those of his syco­phants, by bow­ing to ex­ter­nal forces and sell­ing South Africa to the high­est bid­der.

Cru­cially, he has lost the con­fi­dence of those who voted him into power. And crit­i­cally, he has turned his back on those from whom he should have sought a man­date for his de­ci­sions. His con­stituency has changed from the elec­torate to other, sin­is­ter forces with no man­date nor any in­ter­est in a bet­ter life for all.

Our hav­ing “earned” a down­grade in our coun­try’s credit rat­ing is no dif­fer­ent from some­one who is strug­gling to ob­tain credit, since our per­sonal credit his­to­ries are recorded by bu­reaus which in­form po­ten­tial lenders of our fi­nan­cial sta­tus. If one is pru­dent with their fi­nances, they can qual­ify for more debt – of­ten at sym­pa­thetic in­ter­est rates and with de­cent re­pay­ment con­di­tions.

On a na­tional level, earn­ing a sound credit rat­ing is a great as­set. The banks, lenders, in­ter­na­tional fun­ders and those with money to in­vest will re­gard us as a val­ued client and court us in a bid to have the chance to lend us money.

As a re­sult of our good stand­ing, in­ter­est rates will be low, the re­pay­ment terms ne­go­tiable and the in­ter­ac­tion pleas­ant. It is no dif­fer­ent from the re­cep­tion you will get from the banks if you are in good fi­nan­cial stand­ing and want to bor­row from them. It all con­trib­utes to our coun­try’s pros­per­ity.

How­ever, the fur­ther South Africa slides down the rat­ing scale to subin­vest­ment grade, so rep­utable banks will close their doors on us, while cred­i­tors will knock at our door.

In­vest­ment houses do not sim­ply hold in­vest­ment-grade gov­ern­ment bonds and other credit in­stru­ments. When a coun­try slips out of the in­vest­ment zone, these houses act fast to sell its junk-sta­tus doc­u­ments to any tak­ers.

Such tak­ers are akin to loan sharks – the mashon­isas – that will lend you money but get you to leave your pre­cious as­sets with them; as­sets they can sell when you can­not re­pay your debt. We have seen this hap­pen to other coun­tries, such as Brazil. A sub­prime in­vest­ment rat­ing, AKA a junk rat­ing, af­fects the con­sumer di­rectly. Those liv­ing on credit – be it in the form of a hous­ing bond, a car loan or credit from a cloth­ing store – can ex­pect to pay more for their bor­row­ings and find credit hard to come by. Even for peo­ple liv­ing within their means, ne­ces­si­ties such as food, as well as other ser­vices such as school­ing and petrol, be­come more ex­pen­sive. We will all have less money to spend on ne­ces­si­ties and lux­u­ries. In ad­di­tion, our taxes will buy fewer ser­vices as the in­ter­est that our coun­try will need to pay on our bor­row­ings will in­crease.

Our well-laid plans for in­creased in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture will not ma­te­ri­alise, and our wa­ter sup­ply, elec­tric­ity and other ser­vices will come un­der pressure.

Ex­pect ser­vice de­liv­ery – al­ready prob­lem­atic in many parts of the coun­try – to de­te­ri­o­rate even fur­ther.

To counter the de­cline, gov­ern­ment will have to raise taxes, risk­ing eco­nomic growth and in­creas­ing the chances of a re­ces­sion. This, in turn, will af­fect us all as employment op­por­tu­ni­ties – al­ready scarce – di­min­ish fur­ther. In ad­di­tion, im­ported goods be­come more ex­pen­sive as the rand con­tin­ues to lose value. And who will suf­fer most? The poor, who will be­come poorer. Be­cause of our eco­nomic in­ter­de­pen­dence with African states, our neigh­bours, too, will suf­fer.

Our ac­tions should be care­fully con­sid­ered. De­ci­sions can never be taken to favour an in­di­vid­ual, a pop­u­la­tion group or a for­eign party.

We are all proud South Africans, but re­cent events have seen the state be­ing eroded by ne­far­i­ous char­ac­ters, by ne­po­tism be­ing en­acted at pres­i­den­tial level and by an in­flu­en­tial, un­elected fam­ily be­ing given carte blanche to raid our in­sti­tu­tions. Now it seems as if Trea­sury is be­ing tar­geted by these evil forces. Fol­low­ing hot on the heels of Gord­han and Jonas’ exit, Trea­sury’s di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Lungisa Fuzile, re­signed this week.

It is clear that the state has been cap­tured. South Africans are in de­spair and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are be­ing held ran­som by threats of ANC mem­bers los­ing their jobs should they defy Zuma.

We need to grow a col­lec­tive back­bone – fast – and fill the streets with our protest­ing voices un­til some­body lis­tens to our out­rage.

The Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Author­ity, which was so forth­right in bring­ing du­bi­ous charges against Gord­han, has been deaf­en­ingly silent about those who are rap­ing our coun­try and de­priv­ing our chil­dren of a de­cent future.

South Africa needs an ed­u­cated mid­dle class to drive growth. Cit­i­zens need to feel safe on the streets and in their homes. The anx­i­ety brought on by in­com­pe­tent lead­er­ship, greed and self­in­ter­est at the top is de­stroy­ing our na­tion.

Over the past eight years, we have seen our dreams crum­ble. Our peo­ple must unite against a force bent on de­stroy­ing our com­mu­ni­ties by pay­ing lip ser­vice to “an in­clu­sive econ­omy” while prac­tis­ing ex­clu­sion­ary pol­i­tics. We can­not sit idly by, watch­ing our econ­omy, po­lit­i­cal sys­tem and liveli­hoods be­ing destroyed.

We need to see ac­tion be­ing taken against these forces of evil by un­com­pro­mis­ing lead­er­ship. We want a fi­nance min­is­ter with in­tegrity and fore­sight to grow our econ­omy. By shrink­ing the eco­nomic pie and over­tax­ing in­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions, we can never achieve an in­clu­sive econ­omy. How will de­stroy­ing our econ­omy em­power us?

The loot­ing, ne­po­tism and de­struc­tive trib­al­ism dom­i­nat­ing South Africa have placed us all in a po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic quag­mire. Or­di­nary cit­i­zens al­ways bear the brunt of politi­cians’ fail­ings. Ser­vant lead­er­ship is sorely needed. It en­tails steer­ing clear of ne­far­i­ous ex­ter­nal in­flu­ences and do­ing what ben­e­fits the peo­ple.

South Africans are an­gry, scared and hun­gry. Our democ­racy is un­der at­tack from those with an un­quench­able thirst for cor­rup­tion. Their ta­bles are heavy with the food that be­longs in the house­holds of the poor. If we do not re­move Zuma and his sin­is­ter associates, the con­se­quences will be dire.

The credit down­grade is just the be­gin­ning. If we con­tinue in this vein, in­vest­ment in new projects will cease and un­em­ploy­ment will sky­rocket.

As a cit­i­zenry un­der siege, we de­mand a new pres­i­dent and new lead­er­ship. Our coun­try is be­ing man­aged like Zuma’s per­sonal fief­dom. It re­sem­bles a fam­ily busi­ness that ex­tends favours to un­scrupu­lous third par­ties and un­con­scionable bid­ders. We know what hap­pens when com­pa­nies are man­aged in this way – they fail.

I call on Zuma to show that he has re­spect for the poor and go. I call on all South Africans to mo­bilise tire­lessly un­til that hap­pens. Phosa is the former trea­surer-gen­eral of the ANC

and premier of Mpumalanga

TALK TO US Do you think Pres­i­dent Zuma will bow out un­der the pressure of mass mo­bil­i­sa­tion?

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