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Is there a political party that can take SA forward?

The long-term interventions required will, almost without exception, be unpopular among voters.

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing what one might call an ‘observation study’.

Highly unscientific, it involves counting the number of days in a working month where I drive the 10.6 kilometres from my house to Moneyweb’s office in Houghton Estate, Johannesburg (and back), without observing a single person jumping a red traffic light.

It doesn’t happen often. In fact, I cannot remember when last I had a ‘clean’ trip. I often witness multiple incidents of this type of traffic violation during the drive. Many of them happen several seconds after the traffic light has turned red. It feels like it’s much worse than when I first moved to Johannesburg 10 years ago, but I can’t be sure. I may suffer from some cognitive bias.

Over the last 18 months, the corporate scandal at Steinhoff and state capture have overshadowed the news. This has fuelled a lot of anger against government as well as corporate South Africa but has unfortunately not really induced self-reflection around personal behaviour while driving home, filing tax returns or completing insurance forms. The unfortunate reality is that we often justify our own illegal or unacceptable behaviour by pointing to others. As long as we don’t disappoint relative to others, no need to worry, right?

The issue is important because apart from fixing some immediate concerns like Eskom, a major intervention is necessary to turn around the lawlessness in the country. The lack of accountability is a fundamental problem.

Which brings me to May 8, 2019 – election day.

The real issues that have to be addressed to put the country on the path to long-term sustainability and prosperity are not the type of things that will win support at the voting booth.

Ridding the country of the crime and corruption that not only puts lives at stake, but has played a major part in the degeneration of state-owned entities like Eskom, will require a massive overhaul of enforcement entities. And even though the idea itself may win popular support, we can be sure that the picture will change once those found guilty of ‘minor crimes’ start feeling it personally.

Just imagine if there were actual consequences for traffic violations.

In the absence of a significant improvement in economic growth, narrowing the budget deficit and reducing debt will require cutting back on big-ticket items like the wage bill. This would necessarily mean fewer posts and lower wage increases. Any politician willing to put up their hand and propose this?

An issue that doesn’t get nearly the amount of airtime required is how South Africa endeavours to improve the quality of its education system and develop the type of skills that can thrive in an era of unprecedented technological advancement. At the moment, it makes sense for government to pursue policies that can support jobs for low-skilled workers, but what happens in 10 or 20 years’ time? Will those jobs still be required?

To improve the quality of education in South Africa, teachers would not only have to pitch up for work (a recent International Monetary Fund research paper found that 20% of teachers were absent on Mondays and Fridays), but some rigorous evaluation process would have to be instituted (Wits education researchers previously found that almost 80% of grade 6 mathematics teachers had content knowledge below the grade at which they were teaching). Not the type of decisions that win you votes.

This doesn’t mean all is lost – it just highlights the difficulty in appealing to voters’ interests when it is often their values that drive decisions.

In the short term, there are some easy wins that can lift economic growth, which will make it easier to start implementing the necessary longer-term changes.

In the long run, however, tough interventions will be necessary and looking to politicians to lead the charge on their own will be naïve.

I had a lecturer during my journalism studies who was highly critical of religion to the extent that his comments often triggered extremely emotional debates in class. If you want to be a journalist, you need to trust science and switch on your baloney detector, he said. But towards the end of the year he made a comment that has stuck with me: That it would be church leaders and not political leaders who would take South Africa forward.

I thought about the comment again after the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report. Although DA leader Mmusi Maimane and an anonymous member of the public are also listed as complainants, the first complainant was a Catholic priest, Father S Mayebe.

Perhaps we underestimate what can be achieved when everyone starts playing a role, instead of just waiting for politicians.

Even if it is just stopping at a red traffic light.

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Super article. Of course there isn’t.

All economies survive and can grow only on energy inputs. This means oil and coal; renewables aren’t nearly there yet,and anyway are clearly not up to the job. It it also means that prosperity requires growing per capita energy consumption.

If we had honest government and a much better workforce we would do more with the energy at our disposal, but it would still not be enough to create millions of breadwinner jobs, or rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

Sometime this century the world burns through it’s remaining oil reserves, and the problems go global. Also, sometime this century we cross the threshold of runaway climate change; and this while the global population grows or tries to grow to around 11bn people. All of these factors kick in around 2050 or about 10 years earlier. It’s just arithmetic.

Given the mind boggling implications of where we’re headed, there’s not a politician in the world painting this picture to any electorate; and it’s equally hard to imagine any electorate that would buy into such a view.

So we kick the can down the road and governments that can print money/debt in frantic efforts to keep the growth engine running. But as available energy runs down, well, debt just becomes unrepayable and more of it is just self defeating. We’re actually at or beyond this point as a planet. Who in their right mind imagines that all global debt is repayable? Seriously?

So we are about to launch into a future that will look nothing like the recent past, and sadly it has no political solution – no more than anyone believes that any green party will be able to re-freeze the arctic or drop sea levels when they really begin to rise.

On the contrary, populism, money printing and free stuff is what the world’s politicians have come up with to address the deprivations that are attendant on dwindling energy reserves.

Meantime for energy producers, prices are too low for their bottom line to be sustainable, but too high for consumers to be affordable. Eskom is a classic example here, but without a reserve currency of sorts we are unable to square the circle with debt. And so we are rushing towards a point of collapse.

I see no signs that our politicians are even vaguely aware of any of this; it’s just not on the radar of anyone out there. Instead we have tons of magical thinking peddaled to an electorate that is sleepwalking into a very uncertain future.

Bread and circuses were the ancient Roman’s answer for a crumbling empire. Trump has his wall, Britain has it’s brexit, we have the Xondo commission, and these things are important to deflect the populace from the inevitable rise in inequality, unemployment, and poverty that already lies in our present, but will accelerate into our future.

In 1972 “The Limits to Growth” was published by the Club of Rome. It caused a great alarm because it claimed that we would run out of raw materials like oil very soon. Nearly 50 years later we still have not run out of any of the raw materials they were expecting, what’s more, large number of them are cheaper now than 50 years ago if we correct for inflation.

And they could get cheaper still, because they can only be produced at affordable prices.

Ultimately though, their supply will dwindle regardless. Gold is a good example.

There’s probably more gold in the oceans than has ever been mined on land, but you don’t see anyone trying to get it. Unaffordable, that’s why – as energy is too expensive to extract it at current prices.

The world economy has been growing exponentially for about a century or more. This means that each passing decade consumes way more than its predecessor. The club of Rome may be out by a decade or two, but that’s all. They’re not wrong.

Great comment Navigator. In addition to your comment, the lack of youth economic activity is worrying. Cause traditionally, present generations can borrow and kick the debt down the road for other generations to pick up. Is there a remote change of this happening? When looking at the “growth” in the capital markets it outstrips the economic growth. How is that possible? It appears to be the case internationally?
Another compounding factor, which affects all and sundry: we have entered the electronic age; it takes money to develop e.g. software. Duplicating this software to be sold, does not cost much, maybe a CD. Compared to manufacturing a car, post the development, it still takes money to manufacture same. Meanwhile the billions paid to buy software companies of which the proceeds is not productively invested. Granted, this software service could make life cheaper?? Their are initiative on the boil to change gears and replace the GDP yardstick measure of progress and this is where our collective views have to adapt?

Of course there is a party.
ZACP! #PurpleCow

@PJJ

Haven’t you received the DA bullshyte sms about “throwing your vote away” by voting for a small party?

Or are the DA just targeting the Western Cape voters as they realize they are about to lose hegemonic control of the Western Cape?

I was also hopeful with the purple cows but as i started going through the nuts and bolts of their policies and ideas, unfortunately not for me.
Still something different on the ballot i guess. But I am too old mow to chuck my vote away for the best of the worst option.
Just once i would like to genuinely believe in the candidate i cast my vote for.
I will sit this one out until that option comes. Which may well be never but oh well.

Everybody, including the leading article, misses the point by forty million backward miles.

SA has only ONE problem – namely:

Seventy five percent of its population.

Eliminate this problem and SA will not only have no meaningful problems – it will accelerate FORWARD under its own economic momentum – without having to rely on a circus of buffoons, oops, ‘political party’.

As long as SA has the problem cited above, it will vote for **REGRESSIVE fools, with only ONE mission – namely:

To take SA back to FEUDAL state (fiefdom) where only a small elite is literate and the masses are enslaved by ignorance. The modern synonym is: COMMUNISM or SOCIALISM.

**Laughably the REGRESSIVE LEFT calls itself “progressive” – while its sole aim is to take the world BACKWARDS to the dark ages; no better example than the messages from the USA’s current Democratic party presidential candidates.

IN SHORT: IT IS NOT POLITICAL PARTIES THAT WILL TAKE SA FORWARD; IT IS ITS PEOPLE (so go figure why the country is accelerating backwards).

eliminate the problem…and by that everyone will be poorer…work this one out yourself…hint…consumers

The real problem is the grant system that encourages a growing population. The grant system needs to be revised going forward if we are going to come to grips with the overpopulation problem.

How do we fix it? Going forward only have grants for the first two children; say R500 for the first child and R350 for the second. The third, the fourth and so on nothing, niks, nada. Would however have to honour the existing grants.

Now lets see ‘which party has the balls to implement this.

South Africa has a political party democracy, it’s party first then democracy.

It’s failed because no party has put the country first… the only thing that has come first is the self interest of their politicians.

I’m a simple man who has a hand full of friends, I know some of neighbours, the odd person who does community work a really rich person but I don’t know any politician, I’ve never met them nor do I feel that they have contributed to my life in any meaningful way and that is the average South African biggest problem.

So why can we not run an election based on where we live and the people in our neighbourhood, choosing 3 people out of every 19 to represent our neighbourhood; then the next suburb in the 19 people choose 3 representives; community; town; region; province and in the final part they choose 9 presidential representives of the country.

Their job will be to appoint ministers, judges and law makers to approve new laws.

No advertising, no parties means no donations = corruption and no self serving person.

That way every person has a chance to lead and every other person will feel that their needs are being brought to the surface of the elect.

#DecentraliseDemocracy

South africa needs to separate the executive from the legislative which can only happen if we directly elect our premiers and presidents.
Parties belong in the legislative, not in the executive.

The judiciary alone is not sufficient to check the other 2 branches of govt if they are conflated one into thr other.

But the politicians need to pass this kind of political reform and they wont because they have everything to lose.
In fact this very year submissions from the public to allow us to vote directly for the presidential candidates was struck down by parliament. They wont even discuss it.

Thank you for this thought provoking article. The comments passed thus far is mind stimulating. What is evident, change is needed.If you are in a hole and want to get out stop digging.

The rule of law is the foundation of an economy. There is a constant decay of the rule of law under a socialist government because the rule of law is part and parcel of a free market system. The protection of property rights forms the basis of the law. It is clear, therefore, that the ANC government and lawlessness and plunder goes hand in hand. This is exactly what the people voted for when they supported the ANC. Every individual who supports the ANC do so in an effort to share in the looting. How can we expect such an organisation, with supporters of such deficient calibre, to grow an economy?

“Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain- and since labour is pain in itself- it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. History shows this quite clearly. And under these conditions, neither religion nor morality can stop it.

When, then, does plunder stop? It stops when it becomes more painful and more dangerous than labour.

“It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.
People are beginning to realize that the apparatus of government is costly. But what they do not know is that the burden falls inevitably on them.” – Frederic Bastiat “The Law” 1850

Excellent comment and if I can summarise my view it is that quite a few parties have no real or true policy objective to “take SA forward”. They are selling slogans and Goebbels-speak and their main objective is personal self-enrichment; Ramaphosa or Mugabe style. This is primarily true of the ANC and its mutant clone the EFF. I do not see this with the DA, for all its faults, I think as a collective, they genuinely believe in “taking SA forward”. Squeal as much as you like; it’s been done with CT and WP. Jhb and Tshwane had already been hollowed out by the ANC greed, corruption and incompetence as noted.

The DA that took western cape believed emphatically in the liberal values of their founders.

The current DA is being transformed into a moderate socialist party.

Which is why they lost my vote. That and Herman Mashaba failed to keep his promise to abolish Pikit-Up in jhb when he becomes mayor. I will never forgive him for that.

I am in full agreement with you. The extreme traffic violations seen daily are a reflection of the moral decay of society and the collapse of the rule of law.

I visited Switzerland some 18 months ago and was struck by the adherence to traffic laws; even in the middle of nowhere cars came to a complete stop at a stop street and speed limits were strictly obeyed.

Then again everything, trains and buses, runs on time, quite an experience compared to what we have become accustomed to in South Africa. Rule of law very evident.

The real question to ask is “Would South African voters actually vote for a political party that could take SA forward?”

Knowing that there would be consequences in doing so, including but not limited to job cuts in bloated government departments as well as SOE’s, repercussions for offenders (yes even the red light jumpers), jail time for thieves, nurderers, rapists, fraudsters and erring politicians, I honestly do not believe the South African voting populace is mature enough to say “yes”.

Come 8 May the voters will get the government they deserve and i’m afraid to say it will be more of the same.

Excellent piece of journalism, Inge. We all need more of it. Refreshing, logical and on point, as Mel B would say.
Thank you.

In South Africa, politics is the shortest path to wealth. If you understand this, then all else falls into place. If you are connected then things are easy, smooth, and gratification almost immediate. Of course this way of life creates tremendous isolation from the real South Africa.

Therefore you should not be surprised by the utterances of some of our political leaders. That’s why some of them were mistaken for Peruvian tour group doing a township tour the other day.

None of the parties left of centre have *any* chance of taking anything forward unless it’s a percentage fee on a tender.

This Easter the Archbishop of the Anglican church, Archbishop Thabo Mokgaba, had a very to-the-point message for South Africans about the elections. His message was carried widely on the news and TV.
Even for those who do not belong to a church, or belong to a church other than the Anglican church or churches of different languages to English, it’s worth a few seconds to take serious look at what the Archbishop tells us about “Ramaphosa is not all powerful” at the following link:
https://www.news24.com/Elections/News/ramaphosa-is-not-all-powerful-says-archbishop-thabo-makgoba-in-easter-message-to-sa-20190421

For people wanting to read the Archbishop’s full sermon, this is the link: http://anglican.ink/2019/04/20/archbishop-thabo-makgobas-2019-easter-sermon/

And finally thanks to Inge who so eloquently reminds us it’s up to each one of us to do our bit with greater dedication!

And thanks to you Louise for the links you shared.

I look forward to the day when private individuals can stand independently for parliament. Political parties will oppose it simply because it will erode their power and limit the places at the trough.

Excellent article. Not only is there a lack of law enforcement, there is also a lack of political maturity. I have seen several articles recently with comments from the public to the effect that “I am not going to vote, because what has the government done for me”, or “I don’t get free water/house”. There doesn’t seem to be a concept of voting for a different’ political party if the current one can’t deliver. Secondly, there is a belief that governments somehow make money and can therefore afford to give every citizen free housing, water etc. It takes the concept of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” to new extremes.

Ayn Rand said in 1957:
When you see that trading is done, not by consent but by compulsion;
When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing;
When you see that money is flowing to those who do not deal in goods, but deal in favours;
When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than work and your laws do not protect you against them but protect them against you;
When you see openly that corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self sacrifice.
Is this not South Africa 2019?
We need political leaders who will put South Africa first. Unfortunately they are not on the ballot box on May 8th.
South Africa have many leaders like Thuli Madonsela etc who have showed extreme bravery and vision who could take up this challenge to make South Africa great for all its people

South Africa has had the worst of both extremes. A minority suppressing a majority and a Majority suppressing a minority.

South Africa is so diverse that the concept of having a single person with almost 50% of the power is the same as dictatorship.
Nor can a single party proclaim to have the interests of all at it’s core, all I’ve seen are the extremes.

We need to abandon these ideas and take the view that the diversity will create unity.

Right now for the last 11 years all we have seen is Stagnation which in reality is regression and oppression.

Thank you Inge. Great article.
Like you have said, we as South Africans need to stop being part of the corruption (including jumping red robots) and need to stand up to oppose corruption (like father ). We can’t leave it to the politicians, we have seen their capability.

If politicians are largely the problem, although the article rightly suggests that respect for the law by the average citizen is also fairly low, why on earth would more politicians be the solution?

‘..a major intervention is necessary to turn around the lawlessness in the country’. The level of lawlessness links directly to the general level of care for this country, almost non-existent. You cannot have a lawless President for 9 years and not expect his shocking example to flow down to the masses. As for the roads the situation is an indictment at so many levels. That the population (including those who supposedly fought for freedom) can care so little for basic instruction is almost sub-human while the efforts (or rather lack thereof) of the police is one of the biggest embarrassments to law enforcement in human history. To think that we have a political party that can stop this despicable tsunami, when they themselves have so much to answer for, is out of the question.

I’m voting for the Capitalist Party – at least they have some original and creative policies.

But actually we’re screwed. The simple logic is that we have a population of some 55m of which only 5% pay some form of personal tax. 7 million are HIV positive and at least 1% TB positive with annual new cases in the hundreds of thousands. A huge drain on the economy. There are more people on grants than with jobs. Youth unemployment is about 40%. And as the article states, education is abysmal.

The SOE’s? Employment for unemployable family and friends of the ANC. The security? SAPS is corrupt to the core if you read Robert McBride’s Zondo Commission testimony.

Only a miraculous Second Coming can save us.

Agreed: it is important to start with obeying traffic lights properly, and we should all support that. There is however another element, and that is to teach everybody basics, such as the balance between the rights of pedestrians and to keep the traffic flowing – in the end it is economic time lost if people cross the street disorderly, or loiter at snail’s pace across the street or simply just become deaf and dumb to vehicles around them – even parking lots there appears to be a trend that some people think they are invincible, they will thus first complete their chat and then move to make room for the parked vehicle to leave its space. We have a common duty to – while not intending to harm anybody – spread the message by driving through the crossing when it is my turn and to start moving when I am to leave the parking spot. And hoping the broad population will be taught to understand a vibrant and economically fast environment – “get a move on” is apparently not a phrase which is available in all languages.

Is there a political party that can take SA forward?

Yes, Economic Freedom Fighters.

Forward — towards “Venezuela” or “Zimbabwe”, perhaps.

The point of Lamprecht’s opening observation is that SA’s law-observance has broken down, whether it’s Steinhoff, Nkandla, Bosasa or VBS. As the saying goes, “fish rots from the head”… the rot starts at the top; people follow the lead of our “first citizens”. While the ANC, and its EFF fork, are excellent at talking about “moral revivals” and setting up “integrity committees” [sic] they are sadly lacking in “walking the talk”.

EFF !!!! ASSEBLIEF !!!!!
Simply a bunch of Thugs : They get in , half the White population will leave , which is precisely what they want .

Short answer?
No.
Not among the current clowns we have as options

Forwards require stopping with apartheid and let the best available lead. In no time the country will be booming as engine for this continent.

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