What South Africa needs
is the kind of leadership that will turn the country away from the culture of “it’s my turn
COSATU GENERAL SECRETARY Zwelenzima Vavi had harsh words for the ANC Government, as well as for the business world, last week. Speaking at a Numsa conference, Vavi addressed his full fury at the growing inequality in South Africa, unemployment and poverty, the battle against corruption – which has been completely abandoned – and because no progress has been made with health services and education, even though both were identified at the ANC’s Polokwane congress in 2007 as two focal points Government would concentrate on.
Vavi said corruption is out of control. If SA does not do something special about the curse of corruption it will very soon enter the condition of being a predator State in which there is a “feeding frenzy” – such as in Angola and Kenya – where the President’s family feeds first from the trough, followed by the Cabinet and then the provincial leaders. When ordinary people finally get their turn there’s nothing left, as Jan de Lange described in Beeld, not even the bones from the master’s meal.
In provinces such as Limpopo and the Eastern Cape the education system has completely collapsed. Vavi blamed the “rot and malaise” to a general lack of leadership.
But he also lashed out at the business community and pointed out that the number of South African billionaires has almost doubled from 16 in 2009 to 31 in 2010, when the country’s 20 richest people increased their wealth by 45%, according to I-Net Bridge.
He referred by name to Pine Pienaar, CEO of Mvelaphanda Resources, saying he had earned R63m in 2009, which was 1 875 times more than the average worker.
Vavi is quite correct about poor Government, corruption and glaring inequality. What he didn’t say is that SA’s labour legislation – largely introduced at the insistence of Cosatu – is a major contributing factor.
Though SA is already one of the hardest places to conduct business, because of its excessive regulation, the ANC is planning a set of amendments to SA’s already restrictive labour legislation to satisfy Cosatu. As Troye Lund says elsewhere in this issue of Finweek, the effect of that legislation in fact has just the opposite effect, of destroying jobs, thereby increasing inequality.
What SA needs is the kind of leadership that will turn the country away from the culture of “it’s my turn to feed” – regardless of whether in Government, labour or business – to a culture where service to fellow citizens and competition with the rest of the world are given priority.