Donwald Pressly

South Africa needs an imaginatively crafted intervention to take it on the high road, including a massive redistribution programme managed by the private sector, investment banker Hlumelo Biko argues.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on the launch of his book, Biko said it was pure coincidence that the book came out at the time that his mother, Mamphela Ramphele, had launched a new political party.

His book was also not a manifesto for the new party that was being established.

What was needed was a R500 billion “Re-engineering South Africa Fund”, which would target personal security, labour force competitiveness and upward economic mobility. The private sector should invest in the fund but union bosses and policymakers should ensure that a once-off redistribution programme was carried out.

He argued that a complex form of trusts should be set up whereby charter schools, private sector-financed health institutions and private sector-financed mixed-use housing schemes should be supported.

Biko did not believe ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa would turn into the great hope to redirect South Africa and the ANC on the high road to The Great African Society – as Biko’s book is named.

“That party [the ANC] is a very difficult party for one person to impact [upon] and I think that the constituency he brings is not as strong as many people around here would like it to be.”

Biko, who is the son of late Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, said that the racial exclusion policies of apartheid had been reversed by the current government. There was now a vilification of “whiteness” and “richness” and declaration of outsiders as being “unAfrican”. This he referred to as the tendency of “othering” those who did not follow the predominant political tune.

He said Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and Ramaphosa were embarrassed by that. Referring to them as “people who are good inside the ANC”, he said they were stooping to these levels. “I am not envious of people like Cyril and Trevor who have to function within that constraint.”