Clever mar­ket­ing won't bring in the cash

Grocott's Mail - - MAKANA VOICES -

The slo­gan, “A bet­ter life for all” has evap­o­rated into thin air. Bridg­ing the gap be­tween the haves and have-nots is no longer in the po­lit­i­cal vo­cab­u­lary.

The African re­nais­sance has gath­ered dust in the li­brary and in­tel­lec­tu­ally stim­u­lat­ing dis­course has be­come alien to the po­lit­i­cal theatre. It seems the po­lit­i­cal man­darins have run out of cre­ative and in­no­va­tive ideas. The OR Tambo me­mo­rial lec­tures do not even re­sem­ble his in­tel­lec­tual prow­ess.

Let me ad­mit, cre­ativ­ity has taken place within a very strange con­text. Fac­tions have evolved mar­ket­ing strate­gies by brand­ing them into OM17, PM17 (pro­vin­cial), CR17 and NDZ (na­tional). They are no longer op­er­at­ing as loose con­glom­er­a­tions. They per­form their fac­tional du­ties in a struc­tured and or­gan­ised man­ner.

They are so pow­er­ful that the brand of the ANC has been over­shad­owed. The only item on the agenda re­volves around out­smart­ing each other in or­der to ac­quire some­thing lu­cra­tive, with the pub­lic sec­tor econ­omy a pri­mary vic­tim. The is­sue of the state-owned en­ter­prises have be­come a soft tar­get for sec­tar­ian self sat­is­fac­tion.

Many SOEs are sup­ported by the govern­ment, whereas they were es­tab­lished to make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the growth of the econ­omy, cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, up­skill the labour force and bring money into state cof­fers to en­sure sus­tain­able state liq­uid­ity. This would in turn en­able the state to de­liver ef­fec­tively on its con­sti­tu­tional man­date and en­sure it re­duces its bud­get deficit and be­come less de­pen­dent on loans.

The state’s over-reliance on bor­row­ing weak­ens its ca­pac­ity to mit­i­gate against the im­pact of po­lit­i­cal, so­cioe­co­nomic, safety and se­cu­rity risks. These, com­bined, could threaten state sovereignty.

Lo­cate the af­ter-ef­fects of fac­tion­al­ism within this con­text: fac­tion­al­ism within main­stream pol­i­tics poses a se­ri­ous threat to the na­tion as a whole. That's why all of us should be con­cerned. It is of para­mount im­por­tance that we res­cus­ci­tate ac­tivism within civil so­ci­ety con­text to curb the threat fac­tion­al­ism rep­re­sents.

The mis­de­meanours of SOEs, po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty and the vacil­la­tion of lead­er­ship on gov­er­nance mat­ters have contributed to eco­nomic de­cline. Com­pound­ing the sit­u­a­tion is a Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan that is not lo­cated within the con­text of the bud­get.

The NDP as an over­ar­ch­ing vi­sion of the na­tion should have been linked to the bud­get. Any­one who says the NDP is in op­er­a­tion is be­ing eco­nom­i­cal with the truth.

This un­cer­tainty has cre­ated dis­com­fort within in­vestor cir­cles, and in­vest­ments are not in full swing. These are some of the is­sues the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Malusi Gi­gaba should be ad­dress­ing with his col­leagues and other role play­ers. Fo­cus­ing more on con­ser­va­tive fun­da­men­tal­ism is not a so­lu­tion to the deep seated so­cio-eco­nomic prob­lems char­ac­ter­is­ing South Africa.

Gi­gaba overem­pha­sised points raised by his pre­de­ces­sors without de­tail­ing what is to be done. That is what South Africa needs now as we weather the storm. To be fair to the in­cum­bent, he may have good in­ten­tions to turn the tide, but de­ci­sions be­ing made at the apex of govern­ment may frus­trate his vi­sion.

He op­er­ates within the con­text of mul­ti­ple mi­cro and macro com­pet­ing in­ter­ests linked to global forces with a dif­fer­ent agenda. In a hierarchal po­lit­i­cal chain al­ler­gic to proper gov­er­nance, de­ci­sions are taken in a crude man­ner and cas­caded to subor­di­nates for ex­e­cu­tion. It is up to them to com­ply - or not and face the con­se­quences.

Global fac­tors have also contributed to the eco­nomic melt­down, and lo­cal busi­nesses in­vest off­shore in­stead. Il­licit cap­i­tal out­flow run­ning into bil­lions has be­come a threat to the South African econ­omy.

These things are hap­pen­ing at a time where crit­i­cal state or­gans are frag­ile due to ex­tra­ne­ous fac­tors serv­ing a pur­pose out­side the con­sti­tu­tional frame­work.

South Africans lib­er­ated them­selves from the yoke of apartheid, and it is up to them to fix their sit­u­a­tion.

• Christian Mx­oliswa Mbekela is a strate­gic work con­sul­tant spe­cial­is­ing in HR, EE and risk man­age­ment. A for­mer SAYCO NEC mem­ber, he was part of the team that re-es­tab­lished the ANC Youth League. He is cur­rently do­ing a PhD in the So­ci­ol­ogy De­part­ment at Rhodes Uni­ver­sity.

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