Through co-op­er­a­tives,the peo­ple shall share in the wealth

The Sunday Independent - - DISPATCHES -

IT is com­mon knowl­edge that the use of co-op­er­a­tives as ve­hi­cles for so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is not new in South Africa or else­where in the world. As early as 1912, the Land and Agri­cul­tural Bank of South Africa of­fered loans to white agri­cul­tural co-op­er­a­tives at pref­er­en­tial rates, and with less strin­gent con­di­tions as com­pared to com­mer­cial banks.

This was di­rect sup­port of pri­vate en­ti­ties by the state which played a key role in the de­vel­op­ment of co­op­er­a­tives. By 1930, there were 429 agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tives in South Africa, which were sup­ported by the state and ben­e­fit­ing white South Africans.

In his dis­ser­ta­tion; Afrikaner Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment (1890 – 1990) And Lessons for Black Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment, Uni­ver­sity of Pre­to­ria’s Mzamo Ma­sito writes: “The Afrikaner volk from 1900’s (in­clud­ing last few years 1800’s) to 1990 im­ple­mented their own Afrikaner Eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment pro­grammes known as Afrikaner Na­tion­al­ism, Broeder­bond or Volk­skap­i­tal­isme”.

Ma­sito fur­ther posits that the Afrikan­ers de­vel­oped th­ese pro­grammes after suf­fer­ing short­ages of re­sources fol­low­ing their de­feat by the Bri­tish in the An­glo-Boer War (South African War). “The pro­grammes were de­signed by Afrikaner in­tel­lec­tu­als and ex­e­cuted by or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Fed­erale Volks­be­leg­ging, Red­dings­daad­be­weg­ing (RDB) and the Na­tional Party to en­sure the sur­vival of the volk and their eco­nomic eman­ci­pa­tion”, Ma­sito con­tin­ues. The Co-op­er­a­tives So­ci­eties Act of 1939, which al­lowed lim­ited li­a­bil­ity for co-op­er­a­tives, led to the cre­ation of even more co-op­er­a­tives. Fol­low­ing the pro­mul­ga­tion of this Act, co-op­er­a­tives en­joyed bet­ter priv­i­leges, like ex­emp­tion from in­come tax, as well as rel­a­tively lower rates of fi­nanc­ing.

The agenda above, which was ad­vanced by the apartheid regime, was a con­scious ef­fort to use co-op­er­a­tives as a tool to fight poverty, to de­velop the econ­omy as well as to cre­ate jobs, for the white mi­nor­ity. South Africa’s ma­jor wine brand, KWV, started as a co-op­er­a­tive. It re­ceived state sup­port and in­cen­tives to be where it is to­day. An­other ex­am­ple of an Apartheid-era co-op­er­a­tive is Volk­skas, which was one of the three big­gest mo­nop­o­lies in South Africa. In 1992, Volk­skas merged with Al­lied and United Build­ing So­ci­eties to be­come ABSA. ABSA, as we know it to­day, has deep traces of state sup­port and priv­i­lege from the apartheid times.

We pro­vided this back­ground be­cause we want to in­di­cate that co-op­er­a­tives, and the prac­tice of state sup­port for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is not a new prac­tice.

The Free State Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment fully sup­ports co-op­er­a­tives and will pri­ori­tise co-op­er­a­tives in try­ing to en­hance the mass char­ac­ter of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

On Au­gust 26, the Free State prov­ince hosted the In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tives Day Cel­e­bra­tions, where the pres­i­dent and sev­eral min­is­ters par­tic­i­pated. This event re­minded us of the man­date our peo­ple gave us in 2009.

The ANC 2009 Elec­tion Man­i­festo states: “We have to en­sure that we grow the econ­omy to meet the needs of our peo­ple squarely. Last­ing vic­tory over poverty and hunger re­quires the cre­ation of de­cent work op­por­tu­ni­ties and sus­tain­able liveli­hoods.”

It is our strong be­lief that, through co-op­er­a­tives, we have an op­por­tu­nity to rad­i­cally grow the econ­omy in or­der to meet the needs of our peo­ple, as in­structed by the Man­i­festo. Now, more than ever be­fore, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to rad­i­cally trans­form our econ­omy in or­der for it to ben­e­fit our peo­ple as a whole, the ma­jor­ity of whom are Africans and fe­males. Through co-op­er­a­tives, we can chal­lenge the mo­nop­o­lies that con­tinue to stran­gle our econ­omy.

In this year of pres­i­dent Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, we have a rev­o­lu­tion­ary duty to trans­form the econ­omy for our peo­ple.

Ma­gashule is the Free State’s ANC Pro­vin­cial chair­per­son and premier

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