#PoeticLicence: People first? Markets, methinks

Rabbie Serumula, award-winning poet, author and journalist

Rabbie Serumula, award-winning poet, author and journalist

Published Dec 23, 2023


By Rabbie Serumula

I’m not suggesting that economists and investors in South African markets are heartless. However, upon reading an article about investors’ primary concern for South Africa in 2024, where the possibility of the ANC losing its absolute majority takes centre stage, it becomes apparent that “the markets” are prioritised over “the people”.

The article discusses risks surrounding a South African election expected to be the most competitive since 1994. Take my perspective with a pinch of salt, as I am a market novice.

A long-time acquaintance recently shared a nugget of wisdom, advising me to store bread in the freezer for extended freshness. Grateful for this overdue remedy, my bread bin’s long-standing affair with mouldy bread came to an end. However, the unintended consequence of this newfound freshness was a disruption in the routine of two pigeons that had made my garden their habitual retreat.

Despite my efforts to maintain a disciplined approach to bread storage, these charming underdogs persist with their puppy-dog eyes, head-bobbing movements, and cooing sounds. They believe we are friends. Their whimsical antics have entrapped me into a provider role I was never quite prepared for. They have their norm, which I’ve provided. It costs me more to buy birdseed than to offer them mouldy bread.

Here’s where economists and investors in South African markets come into play. Remember, I’m a market novice, and I welcome criticism. Hear me out.

The article mentioned that an election result pushing the ANC into a coalition with the EFF “would spook the market” since the EFF advocates for the nationalisation of banks, mines, and land. So, these investors would rather have our people stuck in a cycle of poverty and endure all the shambles. A coalition doesn’t benefit them, just as buying birdseed doesn’t benefit me.

The change in my spending doesn't contribute to my “self-righteous goodness” toward the birds any more, just as the investment in South Africa under new naturalisation rules won’t benefit the investors any more. They always talk about the market as if it has never been for the people.

We’ve been eating mouldy bread since day one, usually because there’s nothing else on the table. The predicted turbulence around the 2024 elections has nothing to do with the people.

While reading the article, all I could gather was that investors are content with giving South Africans the same old mouldy bread. I suppose they just want to invest, not donate. But wouldn’t privatisation make them buy what they’ve been stealing and then resell it to us?

South Africa is rich in mineral resources, many of which are mined and produced in South Africa, and then widely processed in Western countries. Who is fooling whom here? How do we persistently not see that we are the ones with the selling power? Is it not payback time yet?

I wrote this in a rush; now, I need to go feed my pigeons.

Saturday Star