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How to comprehend the gap between the haves and the have-not

29 November 2012, 10:58


The historical path in SA split along the way, creating a huge gap between the haves and have not’s.

It is commonly ascribed to the greed and avarice of the white man.  To a certain extent that is true.  The other side of the coin has been totally over shadowed by this perception and is completely lost in the euphoria created by this ‘fact’ that the world owes Africa and its indigenous people, which we are all persuaded to adhere to.

This perception prevents South Africans to really understand the origins of the gap and therefore render us blind to possible solutions.

In spite of the efforts of retribution and the handing over of political and economic power, together with industrial and logistical infrastructures and tracts of successful agricultural land, created by the colonialist and European Settlers, Africa is constantly failing.  South Africa, the power house of the continent in 1994, is becoming a failed state.

In the light of this reality, I think it is time to look at history in perspective in order to ponder the real causes.  Listening to the conversations going on in this country it is evident that we are divided on this issue and our perspectives are based on certain perceptions of why, what, where and who we are.

Reading Ms  Ramphela Mampela’s letters to the sons and daughters of South Africa in her latest book with that title and her assessment of the ailments of our country amazed me with her ardent perception of the present political landscape and her advice to the future leaders of our country.  If I was the Minister of Education, her book would be compulsory studying, not just reading, at all learning institutions!

That prompted me to join her in a quest to get a perspective that might bring us closer to the reality of where we come from and understand what the root cause of the wealth disparity is.  Yes I know that there would be the normal defense mechanism that kicks in to defend our perceptions.  That is okay.  Maybe, just maybe we can sit back and look at things differently.  

I am trying to give a bird’s eye view of the events of the short history of our country.  I know that it could be heavily debated on the accuracy of this scenario, mainly because of how we individually perceived our ‘history’.  That’s fine, but let’s try and be objective for a moment.

At the same time I would like to assure you that I am not trying to point out that the one group of Settlers is better or superior than the other.  I am just pointing out the differences and to look at the underlying causes of the end results.

There were four origins of important Settlers that settled in SA over the last decades.  The years of these decades are like a rubber band as there are no accurate records of exactly when who arrived, prior to the 17th century.  So some scenarios may be questionable.

I think the first settlers were the Khoisan tribes who settled towards the middle and southern parts of the country. 

They were joined by the European Settlers as from 1652 onwards at the tip of Africa. 

Verbal historians allege that the dominant African Settlers, the descendants of Chief Nguni left the area now known as the DRC in the 16th century and meandered towards the east and south of Africa.  Some of them eventually settled on the eastern side of S A where they are presently known as the Xhosa and Zulu Settlers in the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal. 

Then in 1860 the Indian Settlers arrived in the present day Kwa Zulu Natal. 

By 1994 the European Settlers had the political and economic power in the country.  They were the haves.

The Khoisan were absorbed by the other settlers and only a few of them are scattered and are really marginalized.  They are forgotten.

The Indian Settlers developed into a vibrant group, the largest Indian Settlement outside India, highly represented in professions of medicine, commerce, manufacturing and academia and basically are very successful financially and culturally.  They are also the haves.

The African Settlers were confined to their traditional areas but found work in the settlements, farms, towns, industries and mines created by the European settlers.  They are regarded as the have not’s.

Since 1994 the African Settlers, mainly represented by the Nguni tribes, have become the political power house of the country.  They tried effortlessly to gain the economic power but failed dismally.  Some individuals, through their political connections and the political/social engineered policy of BEE and affirmative actions, have joined the haves.  The majority of this group fell deeper in the pit of the have not’s.  The divide has widened.

The economic power and means of employment and of production are still mainly in the hands of the European and Indian Settlers.

So how come?

Roughly around 1850 the African Settlers were huddled in the Eastern Cape and Natal.  The proud Zulu nation that was shaped by Shaka and Dingaan was established and had a functioning economy, a social hierarchy and a stable political structure.  This also applied to their cousins, the Xhosa in the Eastern Cape.

The European settlers (who played a major role in S A Politics) were busy positioning themselves in the then Transvaal and Orange Free State.  They had no infrastructure, no economy and no political system.  They were a bunch of individuals that could not really agree where to go.  But they were determined to farm.

The Indians that arrived in the then Natal in 1860 were peasants.  They were laborers to work the sugar cane fields in Natal, whom the proud Zulus regarded as beneath their dignity to work.   They had no land, no social or political infrastructure, except a need to work.

One can thus say with some form of accuracy that the economic playing fields were level.  These three Settler groups were equal in the lack of having.

Approximately fifty years later the African Settlers were still happy in their environment.  All were equal and had enough.  There were the occasional clashes with the British authorities over cattle raiding and other differences.

The European Settlers, which become known as the Boers because they were mere farmers, developed and created viable farms, towns and industries to feed the farming communities.  They established a political system and other infrastructures.  These Boers gained wealth and became the haves in comparison to the African Settlers.

Then diamonds and gold were discovered and a world rush followed with more settlers from all over the world arriving, including the African and Indian Settlers who sought employment and riches at these mines.

The Boer Settlers were under serious threats from the British Empire who wanted those riches for their subjects and mining companies.  The Boers resisted and overnight organized themselves and set forth to defend these newly discovered national assets.

A protracted three year war followed in which the whole economy of the Boers was destroyed by the British forces through their scorched earth policy, 25 000 of their women and children perished at the hands of the British in the concentration camps through this unprecedented and destructive strategy of warfare.

After this war ended in 1902, the Boers were devastated.  All their assets were destroyed and their homesteads burned to the ground.  All their livestock were killed by the British army.  Their political system was crushed.  They were forced to accept the terms of surrender and they had no political or economic power. 

They were then the have not’s in comparison to the African and Indian Settlers that had all their cattle, agricultural land, political systems and businesses intact.   These Boers also become known as the Afrikaners because of their language.

Approximately 46 years later in 1948, the Afrikaner Boers gained political power in the country.  During those years they rebuilt their farms and businesses. They worked as laborers in the mines and on the roads.   They formed their own means of economic power by establishing financial services, farming co-ops, transport companies and moved into manufacturing and mining.

Through their own efforts they again became the haves in comparison to the African Settlers that were still living their traditional ways.  These Afrikaners were able to achieve those means in spite of a hostile government under the auspices of their erstwhile enemy, the British Empire.

What about the Indians Settlers at that stage?  They also became the haves.  In spite of the various restrictions placed on them by the British Empire, as far as property and political rights were concerned, they became successful businessmen.  They were traders, working in the sugar cane fields, the mines and even become landlords.   

They were so successful that the Zulu Settlers attacked them in 1949, destroying their properties and businesses.  147 of the Indian Settlers were killed and thousands injured.  The reason seems to be because the Zulus regarded them as a threat.  The Indians were the haves due to their entrepreneurial spirit and hard work that excelled them and the Zulu Settlers, still living their traditional way, by comparison were now the have not’s and resented the Indian’s economic prosperity.

It is today such an irony that the descendants of those Indian Settlers have to finance the Nkandla Estate, the home of the chosen leader of the African Settlers!  One actually landed in jail for financially assisting the future leader of the African Settlers.  One became the spokesperson and tried to be the mouthpiece of the African Settlers. 

Luckily one of them is our able Minister of Finance, trying to keep the S A boat afloat!

Now after 18 years of democracy in which the African Settlers are in control, the country is on the abyss of a serious downward spiral that can accelerate towards total disaster.

Why did the African Settlers become the have not’s whilst the Indian and European Settlers became the haves in the same country whilst the playing field between those groups were level in the 1850’s, and in 1902 after the Afrikaner section of the European Settlers were flattened and the Indian Settlers, since their arrival in 1860 were persecuted and marginalized?

Why were these African Settlers unable to close the gap between the haves and have not’s after 18 years of total control over the country?  The gap in fact is now much wider than when they took over with the declared policy of narrowing it.

So the question is why has the gap developed in the first place and secondly why are the African Settlers, after 18 years in power unable to reverse it? 

In the 1970’s a professor at the Caltech University in the USA set off in the world to find the answer to that question. 

He was looking for the reason or reasons why the indigenous inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere had surpassed their counterparts in the Southern Hemisphere, i.e. South America and Africa.

They were far advanced in the field of technology, medicine, economic systems, just and fair democratic political systems, agricultural and industrial development.  Those two continents in the Southern Hemisphere had barely entered the agricultural revolution whilst the Northern Hemisphere countries had excelled in the Industrial revolution, the second wave of economic drive of the world development at that stage.

He found the answer in the cultural drivers of these two hemispheres.  The northern hemisphere’s driver was the need for achievement whilst the Southern Hemisphere’s was the need for affiliation.

The definition of the need for achievement is as follows:

The need for achievement is characterized by the wish to take responsibility for finding solutions to problems, master complex tasks, set goals, get feedback on level of success.

People driven by the achievement motive like to test themselves against their environment and attain standards of excellence

Specifically, achievement motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for achieving excellence through individual efforts. Such individuals set challenging goals for themselves, assume personal responsibility for goal accomplishment, are highly persistent in the pursuit of these goals, take calculated risks to achieve the goals, and actively collect and use information for purposes of feedback.

High achievement motivation is predicted to contribute to effective entrepreneurship

The 'need for achievement' refers to an unconscious disposition to energize and drive. These individuals are constantly 'competing with standards of excellence'. Further, they are attracted to tasks of moderate difficulty.

The need for affiliation is defined as follows:

The need for affiliation is characterized by a desire to belong, an enjoyment of teamwork, a concern about interpersonal relationships, and a need to reduce uncertainty.

Affiliative motivation is defined as a non-conscious concern for establishing, maintaining, and restoring close personal relationships with others. Individuals with high affiliative motivation tend to be non-assertive, submissive, and dependent on others.

This may result in them showing favoritism toward some.

As managers, (as our President) highly affiliative individuals are predicted to be reluctant to monitor the behaviour of subordinates, give negative feedback to others, or discipline their subordinates.

I am sure that the reader would be able to identify these trends in the different Settler groups in our country.

At the same time I personally would love to live in an affiliate society where we are all equal and we do not need to excel and exert ourselves.  Just to be as Mamphela Rhamphela describes it and not to have.

Unfortunately such groups should take responsibility for their chosen lifestyles and should not, when they are in need due to their own inaction, break down the doors of the mining houses and farms demanding to be fed and clothed and housed, because they are now in need.

This unfortunately is happening, due to the great divide between the haves and have not’s.   So the question is, was it caused by the actions of the European and Indian Settlers or the in-actions or non-actions of the African Settlers?

The need for affiliation does not include productive actions, no responsibility, no need for professionalism or excellence.  It is basically mediocrity that is required and aspired to.

Mamphela Rhamphela so aptly describes it as “We (the African Settlers) refuse to challenge one another to perform at the highest levels because we do not want to expose ourselves to scrutiny by those who might judge us negatively.  Teachers, nurses, government officials and those in the private sector conspire in the promotion of a culture of mediocrity in the name of solidarity and it is our children who are the ultimate losers.”

Research from rural KwaZulu-Natal which was conducted by a team led by University of Cape Town political studies and sociology professor Jeremy Seekings, suggests that some of the unemployed will not take jobs which are perceived to provide insufficient income to establish a family and a household.

Many would refuse jobs they did not consider ideal, rather than gaining work experience which would help them to secure such jobs later on.”

That seems to be the perception amongst the descendants of the African Settlers.  This comes a long way.

Mamphela Rhampela pointed out that ; “In Ncora in Comfimvaba district near Queenstown for example, an irrigation system established in 1976 by Kaizer Matanzima, the leader of the then Transkei Bantustan, remains unused despite millions of rands invested in it.  The revitalization process of this irrigation scheme in 2000 was undermined by a local chief who excluded the communities who had worked the land, but were denied the benefit of the produce.  Needless to say, the Ncora Project collapsed again a decade ago.”

During the 1960’s the then government set forth a policy of developing the African Settler’s respective territories in order to provide work and business opportunities in those areas;  To prevent them to become the have not’s. 

In addition to the project mentioned by Ms Rhampela, in the Tsolo district of the Transkei, the then S A government erected a dam with an elaborate irrigation system.  It was a mega project which would have provided the means of production for hundreds of families to become self-sufficient and financially independent.  The scheme made provision for the production of fruit and vegetables to be grown and sold at the nearby harbors to passing ships and as an input for processing industries, creating jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities and to become financial independent.  An agricultural college was built to train the prospective farmers. 

The Agricultural Department introduced an animal husbandry policy to improve the quality of cattle and the prevention of soil erosion.  The African Settlers sold the wire fences for scrap.  The Department introduced the concept of growing maize to feed the nation.  Nobody followed through.

Those projects and numerous others of that time never got off the ground in spite of the millions of rands that was spent and the efforts of the various Departments of Agriculture and Development Corporations.  The reason?  There was no need for achievement.  No understanding of the urgency to become self-sufficient. 

Today the inhabitants of those areas, who had the opportunity to become self-sufficient, are demanding to be fed by the European Settlers and blackmail them with violence and destruction of the mines and farms if their demands are not met.  They threaten to make those areas under control of the European Settlers, ungovernable!

I can hear some of us professing that the previous regime made the African Settler’s areas a dustbowl and a reservoir for cheap labor.   A land with no potential!!

In fact the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal has the highest agricultural potential in SA in comparison with the inland provinces where the European Settlers were able to become successful farmers.

As far as population density is concerned, there are 39 people per square kilometer in the Eastern Cape, whilst in Netherland it is 397 per square kilometer, thus ten times more people.  Their total landmass is 168,966 square kilometers in comparison to The Netherland’s 41,526 square kilometers, four times the size of Netherland!  The Netherlands is basically an agricultural country.  Why’s  it that such a small over populated country is able to feed its total population, whilst the inhabitants of the Eastern Cape are all emigrating to other provinces demanding to be fed by the successful European Settlers?

Since 1994 the present government has transferred large tracts of productive, agricultural lands and agro businesses to the African Settlers.  The result is a 90% + failure rate!  Why?  No need for achievement?

Education is the most important need in this country, there is no doubt about that.  It is through education that we as South Africans can break through this barrier of mediocrity and only then can we narrow the gap between the haves and the have not’s.   Will the majority in this country ever adopt the need for achievement in order to excel?

The need for affiliation is however, presently so strong, that it just perpetuates itself.  The policy of SADTU the largest teachers trade union is “We encourage our members to be at school on time but there is time given out (by schools) for us for union work.  We advise them (teachers) to be on board (as a trade unionist).”  They entrench the need for affiliation, disregarding the need for achievement.

NAPTOSA on the other hand states clearly.  “Members engaging in union work during teaching hours are exhibiting behavior that we totally discourage.  The time when the teacher is in front of the class is sacred.” They entrench the need for achievement.

The result is that the 600 hundred schools that are mainly managed by NAPTOSA, has a near 100% pass rate in comparison with those schools that is in the hands of SADTU which has a dismal pass rate.  Why? Because in the NAPTOSA schools teachers spend 6.5 hours per day teaching whilst the SADTU teachers only spend 3.5 hours in the classrooms.

The end result?

Only 6.8% of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 were entrepreneurs and 10.2% between 25 and 34 become entrepreneurs.

In comparison to other Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, members of Generation Y [those born between 1980 and 1995] in Brazil and China are approximately two to three times more likely to be entrepreneurs when compared to South Africa,"  (Remember Brazil was a banana republic in the 1950-60 periods.)

With limited jobs available and a soaring youth unemployment rate, one would expect the unemployed youth of South Africa to seek alternative forms of employment."

However, this was not the case, as the GEM report said only 14.3% of South Africans were interested in starting their own business.

"The study indicated that South Africa has the fifth lowest entrepreneurial intent amongst all efficiency-driven economies in the world,"

I will repeat a previous research result.

Research from rural KwaZulu-Natal which was conducted by a team led by University of Cape Town political studies and sociology professor Jeremy Seekings, suggests that some of the unemployed will not take jobs which are perceived to provide insufficient income to establish a family and a household.

Many would refuse jobs they did not consider ideal, rather than gaining work experience which would help them to secure such jobs later on.”

Any chance that they can join the haves in the near future?

Another aspect of the African Settler’s repertoire which is part of their heritage is the unfettered affiliation to power and the blind submission thereof. 

The phenomena that the supporters of the ANC are violently protesting against the incompetence and corruption of their ANC leaders, whilst wearing the T-shirts depicting the faces of the incompetent leaders, but continuously supports them, could come from the nature of their political systems of yesteryear which is still solidly entrenched.

The great leader Shaka came to power by killing the Zulu king, his half-brother.  As he stepped out of the hut after the killing, he announced himself the king.  His subjects bowed down and accepted his power.  The same scenario followed some 12 years later when Dingaan took over power by killing Shaka and as he stepped out of the hut with blood on his spear, his subjects immediately accepted his power.

The fact that, according to statistics, there are on average three political killings per month in KwaZulu Natal in 2012 indicates that the same methods of obtaining political power still prevail. 

The fact that the ANCWL blindly supports Jacob Zuma in spite of his disregard for the rights of women bears witness to such blind following of power.  It is like an addiction of the abused.  It is the interdependency between the abuser and abused.

Is it possible that we can excel and assist the have not’s to achieve.  We have to do it some way or another.  Maybe we should start a kindergarten at Nkandla?.   

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