Finweek English Edition - - EDITOR’SNOTE - PEET KRUGER

What South Africa needs

is the kind of lead­er­ship that will turn the coun­try away from the cul­ture of “it’s my turn

to feed”

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.


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