Economy must change to achieve Madiba’s ideals

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IOL pic dec9 nelson mandela red-orange shirt

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South Africa's former president, Nelson Mandela, is being mourned around the world. File photo: Mike Hutchings

As we pay homage and bid farewell to our most revered leader and most heroic freedom fighter, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, and tributes flow in from all over the world, we have to reflect soberly on the hopes and dreams that he cherished for a more inclusive, just and equitable society and whether the neoliberal economic policies that he was persuaded to follow in the transition have so regrettably disappointed in shifting our nation towards these ideals.

In honour of this great and just leader we have to reassess and go back to the drawing board regarding the macroeconomic policy framework and future economic development of the country to achieve a more harmonious, egalitarian, non-racial society bearing in mind all the challenges facing the globe – the end of cheap oil and water, food insecurity and a global financial insolvency crisis of our debt-based monetary system.

Hitherto, our neoliberal policies have widened the gap between rich and poor, between black and white and widened inequalities within communities, enriched the financial sector disproportionately and led to jobless growth. The National Union of Metalworkers of SA is quite correct to question the National Development Plan and whether this means more of the same. Black economic empowerment has failed to be broad-based and has led to cronyism, racial tensions, corruption and nepotism.

We can, however, follow policies that are progressive, more redistributive, non-racial and non-discriminatory in character if we are prepared to follow alternative policies, be creative and think outside the box. We don’t have to rush to the knee-jerk response of blanket nationalisation or draconian land expropriation as espoused by certain pseudo-radical individuals.

Firstly, we can start with a universal basic income to all citizens to ensure that all have basic needs met.

This would also boost aggregate demand for goods and services and lead to job creation as well as subsidising wages. This can be creatively implemented through use of local currencies as currently being used in many parts of the world.

Secondly, we can scrap income tax and VAT and replace them with a land value tax and a levy on all financial transactions. This would ensure that those among us owning more land would pay more tax. The hoarding of land, and speculation on land, would be discouraged, bringing the prices of land down and thus making redistribution more affordable through the willing buyer, willing seller market mechanism.

The small levy on all transactions (essentially a bank turnover tax) will ensure that everybody pays the same rate of tax in a progressive, unavoidable and just manner. It would also have the benefit of stabilising the rand exchange rate through a speed-bump effect on “hot money” flows.

Finally, and most importantly, we need monetary and banking reforms. This would mean that our Reserve Bank could lend money (backed by its reserves) directly to the government interest free to fund major infrastructure projects like renewable energy generation and light-rail networks. Alternatively, public banks can be established throughout the country at community, provincial and national levels through which all government business is done, public savings generated and credit provided for small business development. The reserve requirements for private banks must be substantially raised to control and prevent runaway inflation.

We need to act collectively and creatively to build on the solid foundation of non-racialism, reconciliation and social harmony that the legacy of Madiba has bequeathed to us and to achieve a just, compassionate and vibrant society. This must be done in a systematic manner and not having to rely on individual acts of charity or philanthropy.

We owe this to Madiba and all the other fallen heroes of our struggle for freedom and to the long-suffering people of this country and future generations.

Yaj Chetty

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JZ was booed because ANC is not what it was

Jackson Mthembu confirmed the booing and says on Twitter: “ANC angry, surprised and disappointed”.

Well, the ANC of today is not the ANC of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and Nelson Mandela. That ANC worked to the Freedom Charter. It put the people first. When Madiba became president, he initiated the Reconstruction and Development Programme and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. These things are innately “for the people”.

The ANC of 2013, of Jacob Zuma, is innately “for Zuma and his mates”, hand in hand with “f*** the poor”. The first thing JZ and his chums did was splash out on new cars and “security upgrades” for their houses. When anyone complained, the Ministerial Handbook was waved about.

Zuma and his buddies swan around like MC Hammer, singing Can't touch this, swigging Johnny Blue and Veuve Clicquot. When Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi was confronted about the R200 million of taxpayers’ money spent at Nkandla, he came back with “it’s not taxpayers’ money, it’s state money”.

Zuma is repaying favours all over the show. First it was Cassel Mathale and Julius Malema, who secured his ascendancy. They got tenders worth millions, only to fall out of favour later. Schabir Shaik… paroled. Jackie Selebi... paroled.

The pack of cards is crumbling, and JZ has resorted to falling back on the apartheid-era National Key Points Act, and the soon to be enacted Protection of State Information Act. What it’s saying is that he’s become so inept at hiding his greed, and “his” largesse towards those currently in favour, that he’ll simply make it an offence to report on his failings.

While this may work in rural KwaZulu-Natal, the Transkei and the Northern Cape, the average resident of Gauteng is far smarter. They (we) know what’s going on. And where we once admired the ANC, we begin to despise it for propping up a man who is fast becoming just another African despot, by another name.

And that’s why the Emperor of Nkandla was booed at the FNB Stadium memorial for Madiba.

Andrew Perkin

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