Toxic to the core
Our execs prefer workers to be dumb, dependent and disposable
DEAR MR MULHOLLAND, let me start by stating that, as a young black man, I realise I’m probably not your magazine’s target demographic, and recognise that the “manne” probably get a great kick discussing how well you stick it to the ANC each week, and that I doubt that this letter will ever see the light of day. Although the poisonous bile that passes for your idea of journalism, especially that of 29 March, really does scrape the bottom of the barrel, I’m sure you’ll be back again next week to outdo yourself. It’s ironic, though, that, in seeking to point out Thabo Mbeki’s numerous deficiencies and insecurities, you selected FDR as your touchstone – the same FDR under whose administration lynch-mobs were having a field day brutalising Black people, while his medical community conducted eugenic experiments that would have made Josef Mengele proud. And while he was giving the order to suspend habeas corpus and frog-march thousands of Japanese-Americans into secret gulags, he was serenading the populace with the sweet, soothing baritone of his fireside chats. I think, Mr Mulholland, you ought to be careful what you wish for...
If you had listened, you would have realised that all Mbeki had been trying to say was that we can do better. Strong leaders challenge their people to do better. Smart people step up to the plate and deliver. Mediocre people dumb down debate by resorting to personal attacks and inanities. Winners don’t settle for the lowest common denominator, and losers who cannot cope with the realities of a globalised world and the necessity of competitiveness cop out with smoke and mirrors. I wonder which category you place yourself in, Mr Mulholland. Is the mollycoddled master race really so insecure that they constantly need to be patted on the head and told just how wonderful they are and that we won’t be coming to murder them in the night? Whose mommy didn’t hug whom, I wonder? You seem to think that the White community in this country deserves a medal for eventually coming to the realisation that apartheid was a cul-de-sac crime against humanity that bankrupted a country with the world’s largest gold deposits at a time when one could practically dig the stuff out with a shovel and sell it at $800 an ounce. I’m sorry, but I thought your readers were adults. FW de Klerk, another of your heroes, didn’t suddenly wake up one day with a deep sense of brotherly love for Black people ...the guy woke up with a deep sense of empty government coffers and no overdraft and had to cut his losses.
Anyone with a smidgeon of intelligence will draw a direct correlation between the levels of violent crime in this country and the fact that up to 75% of black youth can be classified as unemployed/underemployed. I, for one, haven’t heard of too many middleaged women running around with semiautomatics, but I could be wrong. Nelson Mandela’s and my parents’ generation made a good-faith attempt at reconciliation in the Nineties. The business community has, for the most part, responded with downsizing, casualisation and stagnant wages while continuing to gorge at the trough of capitalist profiteering. It has consistently sought to short-change, circumvent and sabotage the transformation process. Let me state at this point that I’m not a Bolshevik-communistworld conspiracist. However, I do realise that corporate profits, of late, have been more to do with Government’s expansionary macro-economic and fiscal policy and less to do with innovation, entrepreneurship or productivity gains on business’s part.
Throughout the world, business leaders have recognised that a skilled, innovative and educated workforce is their only sustainable and renewable asset, and that intellectual capital expansion is actually a business imperative. Their governments are constantly being lobbied for educational spending, and business and academia are symbiotically driving economic growth. However, it seems that our execs prefer their workers to be dumb, dependent and disposable if the millions lying unspent in the Seta coffers for Fidentia to loot are anything to go by. They are so stuck in “pillage” mode that it is no wonder the Didatas, Idions, FirstRands and Alexander Forbes’ of this world have consistently been taken to school and had their lunch eaten by companies that actually do have a clue about how to run a business. Anglo has gone from being the crown jewel of this economy to having to rope in an American to save it from being a take-over target. Brian Gilbertson, that poster child of South African business, couldn’t last six months at the head of a real first-world company and had to go Russian to find like-minded “businessmen” in the Siberian tundra. Half the geriatric dinosaurs running South African companies wouldn’t recognise a growth strategy if it jumped up and bit them. And the other half should be paying royalties to the developed-world companies whose business models they so blatantly filch. No one wins in a race to the bottom.
Even a cursory look at the crime statistics will reflect that this nation is, in fact, engaged in a low-level civil war. Young black people in this country are done with being told to stand at the back of the queue and wait their turn. We are done with contorting ourselves into pretzels of acceptability for a business community that has cut corners and taken the easy way out at every turn. From the casual institutionalised racism evident in the goings on at places like Fidentia to the outright belligerence with which white people treat their countrymen, be it the gardener in their yard or waiter at the restaurant, race relations in this country are toxic to the core. I have lived abroad for a fair bit and never experienced a tenth of the racism I have in my own country. It is a disgrace that nearly a generation after Mandela was freed, white people still debate the bona fides of a government under which they have never been more prosperous or protected. Rapprochement is a twoway street but, up to now, black people have been doing all the heavy lifting. I might not have been around back then, but if we learnt anything from the youth of June 1976, it is that the establishment more often than not has its snout buried so deep in the trough that it never sees what’s coming.
As they say in Harlem, Mr Mulholland: “Step yo’ game up, or get stepping, ’cos yo’ lines is wack, Homey.”