Editor’s note: There’s a dark cloud in South Africa and we’re all praying for that silver lining
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The question is, do we have one?
Neil De Beer, founder of the United Independent Movement (UIM) believes we do – he calls it “Together We Will”.
Adri Senekal De Wet, sits down with the straight-talking politician about economics and the current reality that will become the future of South Africa, if we do not find that new playbook.
In Neil’s words:
“As I walked out of the 2017 ANC NASREC conference, reflecting on the trading of souls that had gone down at this pivotal event, I looked at our new president and saw a fraught future for our country, despite the dappling of optimism at the changing of the guard.
We were then, already a country in chaos – a broken economy thanks to deeply entrenched corruption spearheaded by the Gupta family, our SOEs on the brink of total collapse and the tail end of a Zuma era that had wreaked wholesale division and destruction of the hope for a united sustainable country of the Madiba years.
The appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as president of South Africa also brought about a deepening of divisions within the ruling ANC.
This has since seen the rise of factionalism, a term we have become all too familiar with. Yet, factionalism was only one of the nails being hammered into the country’s economic coffin, with other anchoring stanchions being the ANC’s nationalistic and socialist decisions on policy.
It was clear to me that two of these policies were going to be an absolute killer to business.
Nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and Land without Compensation – economic torpedoes in nuclear mode. Fundamentally, these policies diminished hope for much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI).
It was then and there that I made the decision to leave this “new” ANC after more than 30 years. I resolved to form a movement for change that would, and if needed, fight the beast I had once served. And, so today, although I do not class myself as a “politician”, I lead a political party – the UIM – to fight for the hope we once had and that which we have currently misplaced.
And why is that necessary?
“We are now seeing – on the JSE and for sure the South African economy – a mass exodus of our capital.
More than R3 trillion, a staggering amount, has left this country since the so-called “CR campaign” and Cyril’s rule. If there was ever a barometer or gauge in loss of faith in leadership, then this must be it.
We all drank the sweet nectar of the Zuma era defeat and bought into the idea that: “well at least Cyril knows business” mantra. This was also sold to the world. However, we then woke up to Covid-19 and a world pandemic, and what turns out to be a golden opportunity for this leadership epoch to steal.
PPE scandal upon scandal, and the most treasonous, disappointing, and dumbfounding of them all, the suspension and now SIU investigation, of the man whom we trusted to lead the fight for health and safety of our citizens – Dr Zweli Mkhize, our now ex-minister of health.
Today, our belief that Cyril knows his business and that South Africa had a fighting chance is no longer.
It lies trashed and forgotten on the battlefield of an ANC ruling party in crisis and almost complete collapse. The party has not even been able to pay its own staff wages, not to mention the massive schism in this 100 and more year movement. If it can’t govern itself, how can it possibly look to lead the country?
As evidenced by the Zondo Commission, corruption has ruled the roost for many years, yet under this new administration it has intensified and is now a pandemic that needs a cure and, a prevention.
The question though, is that after more than R1 billion of cost, will people go to jail and serve time for stealing from the nation?
Leaving behind the dark clouds that populate our daily news, there is a silver lining. It’s us, the people of this country.
We have the power to stop, take stock of what we have become and then change it. We could start with a change to local government power structures, that are ruined and bankrupt, and put in better people with the appropriate know-how.
We can look at our own selves, see how we are complicit in not upholding the laws of the land and change our attitudes. Zero tolerance of rule breaking is needed. Let’s create movements of empowerment and institute an SA FIRST for EVERYONE mentality.
To make the required massive economic change, we must look to a process of job and skill creation and this can only be done by a change of leadership and ensuring the appointment of skilled workers into jobs.
Our current foreign-based expenditure must be reverted to facilitate a huge drive on domestic spending and buying SA FIRST. The budgets allocated to cities, provinces, and national government, along with policy, must be revisited and adjusted to focus on expenditure at a local industry level.
Taxes on our people must not be increased, instead, we have a wealth of export material so more income needs to be generated on exports of SA products.
I have no doubt that, if needs be, and like before, we ourselves, can be the hope the country needs to get it going. As a people we overcame the apartheid era, we have it in us to defeat corruption.
We are that silver lining. We are the authors of the playbook that will determine our future. The solution to our current woes is not to be found overseas or from any single corner of our country.
It is you and me.
This country has sustained economic potential in agriculture, textile and manufacturing, but more than that, is the sum of its people and their will to champion change.
The answer to our current reality and dilemma is UNITY and ACTION not the pervasive focus on diversity and destruction we experience at present.
It is as simple as that. Therefore, the slogan I have chosen to lead a new era for South Africa, and one that applies to every aspect of the economy, politics, culture, or race, and one that leaves no doubt, is: “TOGETHER WE WILL.”