Yes, we can achieve economic emancipation as Black South Africans
JOHANNESBURG – I learnt some time back from spiritual teachers that there are 3 main stages or “pains” to achieving a vision. This process is called “life visioning”, which people go through towards success.
The early or first stage/pain is that of being a victim and perceiving the world solely from the state of victimhood. The second pain is that of striving to visualise your vision and doing all in your power to improve your conditions towards the vision; and the final pain is to live by or in your vision, what we sometime call success.
With the events of the past 3 weeks globally emanating from the brutal murder of George Floyd by racist police, as black South Africans we need to up the tempo and reflect more on the second stage/pain, learning from stage one regarding our visions for success and improved socio-economic conditions.
My earlier version to this article was going to reflect on stage one only and I titled it “I can’t breathe: barriers to black economic empowerment”. The article was ready with facts loaded regarding what’s wrong with racists and corruption that block black people’s advancement.
I then remembered that the facts about black poverty, unemployment, and inequality have been persuasively and emphatically stated, but nothing seems to be changing fast and at a large scale regarding the black South Africans’ socio-economic conditions.
To this extent when the country was debating the formation of the Zondo Commission on State Capture, I was battling in my mind and had a strong view that the most appropriate commission would have been on “systemic and systematic barriers to socio-economic transformation”.
I battled to understand why there’s so much resistance towards transformation in SA, with so many transformation laws enacted and the reports from Competition Commissions, BEE Commissions, Employment Equity Commissions consistently showing lack of transformation. Basically, many companies are breaking the transformation laws of this country and others in government and private sectors are looting without consequence.
I then realised that the power lies within each one of us to change the situation (black and white). Reflecting on how far we’ve gone and thought we should spend more time on stage two as a nation especially as black people. We need to persistently articulate and implement the future we want, excluding racists, thieves, and sexists.
Perhaps the ability to do it has eluded us especially when we’ve spent much time opposing and fighting racists and corruption, which we must continue to fight. I’m also confident that the political power we’ve held since 1994 is in all essence what we needed to change our circumstances.
We must be convinced that the demons we have been facing are exactly what we need to confront to open the gates to our socio-economic emancipation.
The only thing that will work is to throw unending superior ideas to the government, and corporate South Africa. We do acknowledge initiatives by government and corporate South Africa which are, however, not adequately responding to our own initiatives.
We need to make them aware that black people have superior ideas about how to improve their own lives. We know exactly what would work eNtuzuma, kwaLanga, Soweto, Mdantsane, Umlazi to make our lives better. We don’t need ideas imposed on us and about us. Rather please support our initiatives on the ground.
I’ve always been impressed by entrepreneurial ventures initiated by communities that do not seem to matter in the mainstream conversations about black economic empowerment, policy, and budgets.
These ventures in townships and rural areas are the ones that will create black empowerment revolution in our country. We currently call them the informal sector or survivalist economy. I’m imagining what would happen if the resources wasted elsewhere and policies were to be concentrated into supporting township and rural initiatives.
- Imagine if institutions targeted at black empowerment were to relocate from Sandton’s or Umhlanga’s of this world to black townships and rural areas;
- Imagine intensive skills training initiatives in agriculture, mining, Information Technology, finance, project management driven by township/rural communities supported by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and others located in the same places;
- Imagine if we were to have a database of all ventures and initiatives in the informal sector or survivalist sector by black South Africans, and know their support needs by acting on them;
- Imagine the establishment of Black banks/finance institutions by black people, proudly and proactively supported by our own South African Reserve Bank and Financial Sector Conduct Authority;
- Imagine the land allocated to black ventures/initiatives in unoccupied open fields for residential, farming, and other commercial activities;
- Imagine our government committing not less than a billion rand to each township and village towards own black economic initiatives;
- Imagine concerted efforts to build infrastructure that support black people’s initiatives in around where they leave and should leave;
- Imagine the government bureaucrats implementing UBUNTU (Batho Pele Principles).
Corruption breeds easily if you impose solutions on people, whereas if you support their visions and dreams you ignite the fire of success. Black people love themselves, their places, and do have powerful ideas that can change South Africa.
Black lives and their visions do matter after all.
Dr Bheki Mfeka, is the Economic Advisor and Strategist at SE Advisory; and former Economic Advisor to the Presidency. | Twitter: @bhekimfeka | Website: www.seadvisory.co.za
Email: [email protected]