'Bridging the gap' - the ONLY hope for South Africa

2016-04-20 15:21

The stark fact facing not only the ANC but ALL of us is that there are over 30% of our adult population unemployed - at least 7.5 million people and probably more. Yet just like you and I, they need to eat. But the problem is that out of our total population of 53 million, 22 million do not have a matric. And as is known the world over, muscle-power is cheap. Only when you have a skill can you expect higher pay for employment. Thus it's ridiculous for rubbish collectors, for instance, to 'demand' a salary of R12 500 p.m. So what's the answer?

First, people need a change of attitude. For everything that is 'free', someone else has to pay. The 'entitlement' attitude that the ANC has foisted on people has to fly out the window. People need to realise that 'a job' is a lot better than 'no job', even if it only pays a few thousand rand per month.

No country in the world has ever been able to successfully move from utter rural poverty to becoming a developed nation. People first have to move through an intermediate stage. In other words, we need to bridge the gap. How?

We need to understand how the world works. As every country gets richer, their wage costs rise and they then move manufacturing offshore. Japan got rich, then moved manufacturing to South Korea. When Korea became one of the world's most prosperous nations, they moved manufacturing to China. Now China is rapidly becoming more prosperous under its free enterprise system (even though the country is technically 'Communist'). And China is looking for cheap labour.

So what did Ethiopia - a desperately poor, underdeveloped country - do? They approached China, who said they wanted a zone with low skilled jobs. Ethiopia now has a shoe export industry that has already provided 12 000 jobs for Ethiopians, with more to come. Mauritius is another example. It ALLOWED EMPLOYERS AND WORKERS TO SORT OUT THEIR WAGES. No unions. They focused on textiles for export and have done so well, they are moving up the supply chain to more sophisticated products which provide still more jobs for Mauritians.

So will we in South Africa learn from these practical examples? We CANNOT move straight from rural poverty to modern nation in one step. We need to 'bridge the gap' - as Ethiopia and Mauritius have done - and also use our lousy exchange rate to offer other countries what is cheap labour for them, but a decent living wage for millions of South Africans.

Will we have the desire - and courage - to change? Because if we don't, ALL of us who have jobs face the horrific prospect of hungry hordes by the millions descending on us for food. WE HAVE TO BRIDGE THE GAP - FAST! And that means a LOT of change in the governance - and the attitude - of people in our country.

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