How SA can avoid an in­evitable rev­o­lu­tion

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­

‘Be­fore a rev­o­lu­tion hap­pens,” wrote Rosa Lux­em­burg, “it is per­ceived as im­pos­si­ble. Af­ter it hap­pens, it is seen as hav­ing been in­evitable.”

Lux­em­burg was a Marx­ist the­o­rist, born in Poland in 1871, and ex­e­cuted at the age of 48 in Ger­many af­ter she had moved to that coun­try.

Aris­to­tle was pretty philo­soph­i­cal about the start of a rev­o­lu­tion. As far as he was con­cerned, gen­er­ally, a rev­o­lu­tion is sparked when those who have no morals or virtues de­velop an unquenchable thirst to pos­sess the prop­erty of their ri­vals.

We know that is not how Africans are. We eat dust while our lead­ers drive past us with their blue-light brigades to a rally.

By the same to­ken, if a rev­o­lu­tion were to start in this coun­try, it would not be as a re­sult of a re­volt against white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal, be­cause many peo­ple are al­ready em­ployed by that an­i­mal, what­ever it is.

Theda Skocpol and Jack Gold­stone, two schol­ars of rev­o­lu­tion theory, ar­gued that rev­o­lu­tions do not al­ways start be­cause of a clash be­tween classes, but be­cause of pol­i­tics. If their theory is closer to the truth than that of Aris­to­tle, then the fore­cast for the South African po­lit­i­cal land­scape is much dim­mer.

In the French Rev­o­lu­tion, the peo­ple per­ceived the head of state, King Louis XVI, to be weak. He couldn’t make ma­jor de­ci­sions; pre­ferred per­sonal in­ter­ests over those of the state; and was strongly in­flu­enced by his wife, Marie An­toinette. The state was broke, with large amounts of debt, and the no­ble­men weren’t cut­ting down on their birthright perks.

South Africa’s pres­i­dent is per­ceived to be putting his fam­ily in­ter­ests and those of his friends above those of the peo­ple. His ten­dency to laugh at se­ri­ous ques­tions posed to him is of­ten taken as con­tempt for the peo­ple. The Gup­tas are Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Marie An­toinette. They flaunt their wealth, and have be­come South Africa’s de facto no­bil­ity.

Trade union fed­er­a­tion Cosatu, an im­por­tant part of the tri­par­tite al­liance, has now banned him from their events, giv­ing the im­pres­sion that he is weak.

Re­ces­sion has set in, and more peo­ple will join the un­end­ing queues of the un­em­ployed, who will then be­come the will­ing sol­diers of the rev­o­lu­tion.

When things are tee­ter­ing on the edge, the best coun­ter­move is for the rulers or gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to make sym­bolic sac­ri­fices, like cut­ting down on the blue-light brigades, tak­ing salary cuts and mak­ing other laud­able but in­signif­i­cant ges­tures.

If brevity is the soul of lin­gerie, as Dorothy Parker sug­gested, mod­esty is the soul of good gov­er­nance, and there is none, through­out all tiers of gov­ern­ment.

Small busi­ness must now come to the fore and save this coun­try, be­cause they have the most to lose. Big busi­ness is tak­ing its money off­shore.

Black busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tions are more con­cerned with pro­tect­ing their mem­bers now that they’re in­side the board­room and, like most white-col­lar work­ers, their big­gest strug­gle of the day is fight­ing the traf­fic on their way to the of­fice. They don’t have to worry about mak­ing sales, sign­ing in­voices or col­lect­ing their money.

Many small busi­nesses are now em­ploy­ing young peo­ple with the spe­cific in­ten­tion of train­ing them.

They of­ten do not have the money to pay salaries. Par­ents are sub­sid­ing those busi­nesses by pay­ing for the travel costs and up­keep of those chil­dren, be­cause they un­der­stand that their chil­dren are gain­ing skills. Af­ter all, Aris­to­tle said ed­u­ca­tion is the best way to avoid a rev­o­lu­tion.

Isn’t that what we need to save South Africa?

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