Cyril’s tough truth is better than fantasy
Nothing makes you appreciate home more than travelling. While spending a week with friends in Thailand chasing an elusive white ball into a series of holes, I missed the much-anticipated live broadcast of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus package announcement.
Thanks to YouTube, I was able to catch up and also hear the so-called experts react to Thuma Mina’s message to the country.
As much as the Vusi Mahlasela music makes you feel at home as soon as you step on a homeward-bound aircraft, I certainly did not miss the “talking down” that we South Africans love to give ourselves.
Almost everyone I spoke to about the “stimulus package” announcement after arriving back had something negative to say.
Many said it wasn’t really a stimulus package because it was merely a reprioritisation of money we already have.
Others said it sounded like no more than the reversal of bad policy decisions and the fixing of some obvious missteps by the previous Jacob Zuma administration.
The consistent message was a negative one, once again prophesying an imminent armageddon for our economy and country.
I don’t know about you, but I much prefer the truth to a sweet lie aimed at seducing me into a false state of euphoria — especially when the situation is this dire.
All that Ramaphosa did was tell us the truth, and lay out some of the actions his government plans to take in order to remedy the situation — a far cry from the other guy who kept reminding us of 1994 and telling us “we have a good story to tell”, when, in fact, our recent version of the story was pretty depressing.
“Our government has limited fiscal space to increase spending or borrowing,” Ramaphosa said.
“It is imperative that we make sure that the resources that we do have are used to the greatest effect … we do not have the fiscal space to pour money in the economy … we have to resort to reprioritising our spending and budget within the current fiscal framework.”
In layman’s terms, the president, in his capacity as the head of this home, told his family: “Hello guys. We are broke. There is no more money coming. I am not getting a raise. I am not getting a bonus. And I cannot borrow any more money from the bank.
“Our only option is to cut down on spending to reallocate the funds to the most important items.
“So some things are going to change around here, so that we continue to live a good life, until such time as Daddy can get that raise, bonus or extra credit. OK, that’s it. Dinner is served.”
The president went on to elaborate on his ideas about the immediate opportunities we have to help deal with this sad reality. He told us that the cabinet had already approved changes to visa requirements to try to stimulate both business and leisure tourism.
He told us that the cabinet had approved the revised Mining Charter, in an attempt to bring some policy certainty to one of the few labour-intensive industries we still have.
He promised that, in a matter of weeks, the government would initiate the process of allocating high-demand radio spectrum to enable licensing — again in the interests of reigniting economic activity in a growth sector that carries huge socioeconomic dividends.
Then, finally, he told us that he would take some money from elsewhere — R400bn, to be exact — and move it into infrastructure.
I prefer to live in a family like this, where dad comes out straight and tells me I will still be going to school, even if it’s not the same one all my friends go to.
I will still have lunch money, but perhaps less than before.
I will still have basic clothes, but I can forget about those new Adidas sneakers — because we need to repair the roof before the rainy season hits.
I, too, would choose a dry bed over new sneakers.
“Igniting economic activity requires partnership and collaboration,” Ramaphosa said.
“It must be a national effort in which all of us work together to restore our economy to growth in the immediate term, and prepare the ground for sustainable, inclusive growth into our future.”
Let us stop resisting the truth, accept our reality and focus on solutions.
I prefer to live in a family like this