From the editor

JANA MARAIS

Finweek English Edition - - CONTENTS -

love him or fear him, you have to ad­mit that EFF leader Julius Malema is an ex­tremely tal­ented politi­cian. Malema and his red berets are ex­pected to win 12% of the vote in the up­com­ing mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions – nearly dou­ble the just more than 6% they won in the 2014 na­tional elec­tions. The EFF is there­fore no longer a so­cial ex­per­i­ment, but a se­ri­ous political party that is here to stay, and whose poli­cies de­serve se­ri­ous scru­tiny, as Daily Mav­er­ick’s Richard Po­plak pointed out at the pub­li­ca­tion’s an­nual The Gath­er­ing in Midrand on 10 June.

In this week’s Spot­light (see page 38), we high­light some of the EFF’s elec­tion prom­ises (which en­tail largely self-sus­tain­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where no­body goes hun­gry, cor­rup­tion doesn’t ex­ist and pot­holes are fixed within 48 hours).

Be­ing a smooth-talk­ing politi­cian, Malema shrugged off ques­tions on how mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be able to af­ford all the free ser­vices promised to the poor. Our prob­lem, he says, is not that South Africa doesn’t have the re­sources, but rather that our pri­or­i­ties are all messed up. In­stead of build­ing bi­cy­cle lanes in Sand­ton, for ex­am­ple, we should be spend­ing money on pro­vid­ing wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion to the peo­ple of Alexandra.

Malema says politi­cians love to “sit on their minds” rather than think of in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to grow rev­enue streams. Why sell mu­nic­i­pal land for prop­erty devel­op­ment, for ex­am­ple, when you can rather part­ner with the devel­op­ers and re­tain an eq­uity stake in the project?

One can cer­tainly dis­agree with many of the ways in which Malema and the EFF aim to re­dress the wrongs of the past – land ex­pro­pri­a­tion with­out com­pen­sa­tion would be an eco­nomic dis­as­ter, to put it mildly – but he is right to say that we need a se­ri­ous re­think about how and where we al­lo­cate re­sources.

In an ideal world, we should have bi­cy­cle lanes in Sand­ton – as the eco­nomic heart­beat of the coun­try, any­thing should be done to im­prove its lo­gis­tics – and piped wa­ter and flush toi­lets for ev­ery Alex house­hold. But ours is not an ideal world. Ours is a world where nearly 8.2m South Africans are un­em­ployed; where 35% of house­holds re­ceive no salary in­come; where half of South Africans live be­low the poverty line. So damn straight we need to get our pri­or­i­ties right.

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