Radical economic transformation starts with you, black child

2017-05-03 06:02

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I HAVE over the past several months or so been pondering over a topical issue currently dominating the political landscape of this country, that of radical economic transformation.

At the core of this vision, is the idea of transforming our economy into one that accommodates black people, since they had been systematically excluded for over 400 years.

More so, to bring back all that which was cunningly taken away from black people by whites. To this end, various political parties have been proclaiming their positions on this subject and how each party promises to champion this vision better than the next party. However, I cannot help but notice a detrimental dichotomy between that which is aspired and promised by political leaders and what is actually happening at grass root level. The culture of entrepreneurship and financial literacy among black youth and the elder generation is despondently still a novelty.

To validate the above assertion, one must investigate what could be the main hindrances precluding blacks from starting up businesses and actively participating in mainstream commerce.

One reason that comes to mind has to do with the fact that the environment in which young blacks are brought up does not encourage entrepreneurship, nor does it school us about managing finances.

Look at how many projects involving large sums of cash, especially in the construction sector, are left unfinished with all the monies mismanaged.

In our townships we all know those young boys and girls who had inherited exorbitant sums of cash from family trusts and policies. How these monies are often wasted is a genuine indication that blacks still have a long way to go.

Most graduates who have had their studies financed by NSFAS, looking for a job is more appealing to them than starting a company. A job is seen more promising and possibly a convenient way to start paying off their loans immediately.

Venturing into businesses is often considered by graduates after five or six years of looking and not finding a job. More often than not, 60% of those businesses barely survive a year. This is largely due to the fact that the business acumen is not there.

True radical economic transformation can never be brought about by government alone, it has to start with an individual, our schooling system and civil society. Financial literacy should be introduced in schools from as early as primary level and be made a compulsory module.

Lest we forget what happened as we awaited the advent of democracy, hopes were high, expectations even higher. And guess what, only those who were and still are better positioned are enjoying the fruits of “our” democracy. Similarly, the hyped up radical economic transformation will only be realised by those better positioned.

The onus is on you black child, radical economic transformation is not a top-down approach as purported by our leaders instead is a bottom-up approach. It starts with you, educate yourself as much as you can on matters of commerce, make starting a business a hobby not an option.

At national level, we must not make the same mistakes as we did after attaining independence where we entrusted individuals with crucial government departments, not based on merit, but on how long they have been exiled. At individual level, true radical economic transformation will only be realised if we (blacks) steal from white people, not literally, but metaphorically.

Blacks must steal and mimic all the behaviours, patterns and attitudes around which white people use and invest their wealth. Did you know that we have more cheap cars in the most opulent white-dominated suburbs than in our townships?

Put differently, it is more common in our black communities to see someone driving a car which is more expensive than the roof over his or her head.

• Zipho Makhoba is an author, research consultant, social commentator and adviser at Makhoba Consultants Group.

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