Dear ANC, remember the poor?

2009-01-20 00:00

Even before the working classes are back at work, our politicians are busy — or so it seems.

They have been hard at work wooing the electorate and, after the elections, I am quite sure that we will only hear from them again in another five years — their idea of keeping in touch with the people. I don’t hold politicians in high esteem.

Sometimes I think people only turn to becoming politicians after failing in everything else.

Now down to more serious business. The African National Congress has rolled out its manifesto in the Eastern Cape and set the tone for the election.

The manifesto is a far cry from the practices of the party in the past 14 years. In particular, the past 10 years have been about feeding a few cronies and kissing the success of capitalism with great vigour à la Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni.

You probably think that I have become an alcoholic during the silly season for these comments, but I assure you I am sober.

The manifesto says that in a Third World country like South Africa, we need to empower the poor, and, in particular, the rural poor. We need better health care for the nation. So, what the ANC is really saying is that it has failed its biggest support base for the past 14 years.

Then the party talks about free education in 60% of schools. Again this is an open admission of failure.

At last the ruling party, which until recently has been run by billionaires and millionaires, has realised that its supporters are trying to make ends meet while the elite, who have controlled the party, enjoy French champagne, Scotch whisky and Russian caviar.

The majority of people who attended the launch of the ANC, some 80 000 people, made their way there by bus or minibus taxis. These are the people who voted for the ANC and not the bourgeoisie.

This manifesto is desperately needed in a country of haves and have-nots, if the haves are going to enjoy the sweet fruits of a sunny South Africa.

Those who believe that the ANC has gone too far left, need to look at the United States. That country is run in every sense of the word by the government that owns the car companies, banks and mortgage lenders. Why? Because business has failed to run smoothly, create jobs and ultimately put food on the table of the masses.

The U.S. government can take the place of business and it is fine. Yet in South Africa we must continue to pay high interest rates, the poor get poorer and the government dare not interfere or the elite and wealthy will be upset.

This government has let down the poor and lower-middle classes who have become poorer in the new South Africa. It is time to reverse this trend for the wellbeing of the entire country.

This government, if it is serious about its manifesto, has taken the first correct step forward. We cannot, and dare not, allow people to continually live in squalor, with sub-standard health care and education.

In Europe there are national health plans in place. There is free education. There is subsidised housing at low interest rates. These are non-negotiables for all human beings. It is a basic tenet of the civilised world.

Why then do some people complain about these same policies that will improve the life of the downtrodden? It is selfishness. All South Africans lucky enough to make a comfortable living should tell the government: “I am fine, please help the poor.”

That is the patriotism which is sorely lacking in our country. Interest rates on houses must be fixed at affordable levels and I hope that the government opens a “People’s Bank” and provides this.

Out with Mboweni and Manuel. Frankly, these two men have been taking us down the path of right-wing capitalism for too long.

The world’s financial system has failed and the time is ripe for a change. The ANC will do itself a great favour if it adds socialist policies to its manifesto which will give its constituency low interest rates on houses and education loans.

This sense of security is sorely needed and if the ANC provides it the party will continue to rule.

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