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A point of no return

Mr Editor

Allow me to add an opinion into the ongoing debate about the point at which SA find herself and challenges that our country is facing. In 1994, South Africa ushered in a democratic dispensation which was, two years  later, followed by a constitution that became the envy of  well-established democracies, globally. The arrival of political emancipation was indeed filled with hope that our people’s dignity would soon be restored and ultimately the snare of poverty and illiteracy which engulfed them for centuries, would soon be eradicated.

Two decades later, we sit here filled with disappointment, anger and confusion, as many of our people continue to see the dream of economic emancipation moving further and further away. Whilst we acknowledge tremendous work achieved in 22 years of freedom, we are weary of the gap that remains unclosed. We have witnessed waves of attack on the govt of the ANC from the day it assumed office. Many economic policies developed by the current govt aimed at redressing the imbalances of the past have come under tremendous attack by one or two opposition parties known to be championing minority interests.

South Africa’s participation in the new economic block BRICS has not been easy. Whilst attacks were initially mild, questioning things such as whether or not SA was the right fit within BRICS, we have recently seen an intensification of attacks as BRICS’ agenda continues to become a reality. Not only have we seen these in SA, we know what is happening in Brazil and Russia including many other countries who have tried to disassociate themselves with the so called Washington Consensus such as  Zimbabwe and Venezuela.

The question we must ask ourselves as Black people in this country is, what does this mean for our economic freedom agenda? Is BRICS the solution to our problem? If yes, then, how so? What is the objective of those who oppose the BRICS agenda and what is their game plan? These question we must raise very mindful of the fact that many within our own ranks have joined the agenda – knowingly or unknowingly – which is aimed at derailing and ultimately destroy all our attempts to emancipate ourselves economically. The current Gupta scenario playing out in media spaces in SA is a high level example of how white capital has been deployed to frustrate transformation. I am not going to argue for the merits or otherwise of the model the Guptas have adopted but, I know, at some level it is an attempt aimed at changing the face of economic ownership in this country. The unprecedented response by SASFIN, KPMG, ABSA and FNB should make all of us stand up and ask serious questions about the motive of these institutions. I hold a firm view that these actions are unprecedented and coordinated until proven otherwise.

As a person in business, I have firsthand experience of how white business frustrates attempts by black entrepreneurs to enter and operate successfully in the business space. For a very long time, emerging black entrepreneurs have been complaining about many barriers erected to retard their progress, hence the call to govt to intervene. It was for that reason that I think Prez Zuma even yielded to requests to establish the ministry of Small Business. The objective was to brake barriers and smoothen the road in order to assist blacks get a meaningful slice of this country’s economy. But undoubtedly, it remains very clear that there are forces determined to either keep us on the periphery of the economy or enslave us as their employees that they can always control with meagre wages and salaries.

To me, the attacks on Prez Zuma are in the same context we see elsewhere. Notwithstanding his own personal mistakes, they still would have used any other reason as a proxy for their real agenda. The language is becoming dangerous, and  is beginning to encourage unconstitutional behavior to depose a democratically elected govt. Others have even implored the military to enter the political terrain and undermine the sitting govt. I am not a constitutional expert but my understanding is that citizens have an opportunity every fifth year of each administration to either endorse or remove that administration through a ballot box. This is a mechanism we chose in 92 and endorsed in 96. This constitutional provision is now under threat and nobody is raising questions about its current and future implications. Therefore, It could well be argued that the constitutional protection that  has been claimed as a motive to attack Prez Zuma is yet another proxy whose real agenda is to deposing the ANC govt. We must therefore ask, what is it that is being attempted here and how does it affect us now as well as in the future? Who is behind it? What do they hope to achieve?

It is in this context that I say we must explore a common understanding of the scale of our challenges as the play out both locally and abroad. Without that, we would not comprehensively formulate a common goal of our economic freedom agenda. Equally, we must expect a strong retaliation from the current beneficiaries. We know and we have learned from history, including recent history, how brutal the West could be pursuant to its economic hegemony.  Recent developments in countries such as Libya, Syria, Irag could well be our experience should we decided to part ways with the West. The road ahead will be difficult, probably even very brutal. To that extent, we must be resolute about our common objectives without which, we will continue tripping each other along the way whist delaying our own salvation.

I want to conclude this piece with these points.

  • We need to formulate clearly in our minds the end state of our NDR. There has to be a common understanding of what the ultimate agenda is.
  • We need to agree the path it needs to follow.
  • We need to identify the character of the carders/ leadership to lead us to that end state
  • Once that is done, we will be able to put the right people in the positions of leadership whose preoccupation will be the delivery of our agenda not personal enrichment.

Fellow South Africans, we have entered a point of no return.

Sfiso Memela



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