Big five wishes for SA
THIS year is almost over. December is a time for many South Africans to conclude business, take some time off and rest. But it is also a time of taking stock of the year and what was achieved, and to start thinking about what 2019 holds.
Call it a combination of wishes for Christmas presents and New Year’s resolutions, but if there are say, only five things that can be chosen, I would choose the following five for the country.
Whether it’s the cabinet, the public service, the private sector or civil society — we need a new leadership stripped of selfish people. We are tired of the corrupt, the state capturers and the Zuptas in our leadership structures. They must be removed from their positions and prosecuted effectively. For this purpose, lifestyle audits should become common practice, particularly in the public service and politics. But more than that, we are tired of well-meaning leaders who propose policies that are essentially socialist and can economically cripple the country in the long run.
We wish for a new leadership. You often hear from economists that “policy certainty” is needed. But certainty relating to bad policy is not good enough. If you are sure your property will be expropriated, it will not encourage you to invest in property. We wish for a government that does more than ensure policy certainty; we want one that generates sound and clear policy, policies that are empowering for the private sector and ordinary citizens, stripped of ideological motives and bureaucratic rubbish. Our country needs an economic policy that encourages the private sector to create jobs. Our country needs a policy that confirms the property rights in the Bill of Rights. We need a labour policy that is flexible and allows the economy to flourish.
We wish for good policies. Recently, R5 billion was ploughed into the bottomless pit known as SAA. It is apparent that other state-owned enterprises are also not well-managed, to the extent that informed commentators say they cannot even be given away. We wish for an Eskom that is well-managed so that price increases in double figures are the exception and not the rule, and that the same is true for power outages and load shedding. We wish for a public broadcaster that is not always on the verge of bankruptcy. We wish that our tax money will be better utilised than to reward inadequacies and mismanagement with never-ending life-preservers.
We wish for well-functioning stateowned enterprises.
The main driver of racial polarisation, Julius Malema, is on the verge of exceeding even his own records of racial polarisation. The recently published Employment Equity Bill will, if approved, make racial quotas for all facets of South African society the norm. It will further alienate racial minorities. We therefore wish for a country where racial polarisation is treated with the contempt that it deserves. A country where Malema and the like prove themselves irrelevant through their statements. We also wish for a country where minorities feel at home to contribute to the prosperity of the nation. We wish for tolerance and a welcoming of diversity. We wish for common courtesy in how South Africans interact with each other.
We wish for good racial relations. Civil society was instrumental in opposing apartheid. It also played a decisive role in the fall of the Zuptas. But after the first democratic elections in 1994, civil society went to rest on its laurels. This was hastened by the new government’s insistence that foreign funders should re-route the money historically given to civil society organisations, to the new legitimate government. When the dwindling capacity of the state became clear in the early 2000s, especially when the Zupta regime became a reality, civil society “took a stand”. Today, the results are clear. The danger is that with the new dawn of President Cyril Ramaphosa, civil society will relax its watchdog role. We hope that civil society remains vigilant. We wish for an active and ever-wary civil society.
Our wishes for a newer South Africa are not going to be granted by a mythical Santa Claus. These wishes (and others) will only become a reality if all South Africans play their part. It would help if our leaders took the lead, but eventually it will require a joint effort. And it is possible. So finish 2018’s work and take a break. And start thinking about your role in the realisation of the big five.
• Theuns Eloff is executive director of the F.W. de Klerk Foundation.