Thursday, September 2, 2010

SA economic policy 'is worst in the world' opinions from respected sources

At the rate we are going the apartheid government will end up smelling like roses, which would be a pity.

Anybody who was anybody in the struggle is attacking the Zuma administration, even Julius Malema, though he was too busy trying to pass school woodwork at the time.

But seriously, people like Kader Asmal, Tokyo Sexwale, Moeletsi Mbeki and Zwelinzima Vavi. Mbeki, who is the other Mbeki's brother, says so-called black economic empowerment will impoverish South Africa and that our economic policy "is the worst in the world". Vavi, back in my good books for opposing the media restrictions, says government corruption is turning the country into a "full-blooded predator state".

Now Mamphela Ramphele, who has perhaps the best credentials of all, says that 16 years into democracy, some things are worse than under "horrible apartheid".

I attended a talk she gave to the UCT Alumni Leadership Forum on Monday night. There was standing room only in the large lecture theatre. Even before she began, audience members round me were murmuring "Ramphele for president". But the co-founder of the Black Consciousness Movement who was banned for seven years, later became UCT vice-chancellor and more recently general manager of the World Bank, is, one suspects, too much her own person to submit to party political edicts.

Something was seriously wrong with our society, she said. Any society where striking nurses could storm into an operating theatre and where a minister of public service and administration could say a Mercedes-Benz was a tool of his trade was "very dangerous and sick".

There was much else. We had "fallen in love with ethnic branding", we were "in short supply of empathy" for the poor, we were tolerant of a "totally dysfunctional school system". The anger of the strikers was hardly surprising when "an MP who may not have a standard 2 sits in Parliament, sleeps most of the time, and earns R700 000 a year plus perks".

What looked like a yuppie asked how South Africans (of all races) could break away from a culture of self-interest, adding: "Once we reach the age of 35 we have so much to lose."

"We are outdoing the worst excesses of the apartheid era," responded Ramphele. For instance, cabinet ministers were using public money to entertain themselves - throwing parties for having delivered a budget. Ah, there was one in the audience. She had spotted former minster Alec Erwin - the man who once blamed the presence of a bolt in a Koeberg nuclear generator on "human instrumentality".

Erwin shrunk back in his seat, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. I don't know why he felt so embarrassed. Colin Eglin told me afterwards that he had left the ANC and joined Cope.

The trouble with materially accumulative black South Africans, said Ramphele, was that they wanted to prove they were just as good as white people. "Surely they can be better."

The audience applauded its belief that they could, if they tried. But the question remained. Could the present government be better than the apartheid regime? Or would the Nats of old continue looking better the longer the ANC ruled?

Why did we keep voting the ANC into power? asked Ramphele.

Don't look at me.

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