‘Cut state salaries’

2017-08-24 13:33
Well known author and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki outlined three steps to ensure SA's economy transforms.

Well known author and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki outlined three steps to ensure SA's economy transforms. (File)

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South Africa needs deep change, but the radical economic transformation required will likely not be to the liking of the government, well known author and political economist Moeletsi Mbeki said on Wednesday.

Mbeki, a leading speaker at the first day of the KZN Lean Conference hosted by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Businesson Wednesday, said the first thing he would do to kick-start radical economic transformation would be to drastically cut government salaries.

In South Africa, government salaries amount to 14% of GDP, high compared with other economically comparable countries such as Colombia (four percent), Indonesia (five percent), Chile (over six percent) and Russia (under 10%).

“In China, the highest public salary cannot be higher than 11 times that of the lowest paid government worker.

“In South Africa, when we think of the executives of some of our parastatals in particular, it can amount to more than 100 times the salary paid to workers,” he said.

Lower government salaries will also remove one of the primary reasons for political assassinations — particularly in KwaZulu-Natal — and will also help to reduce corruption.

The second thing Mbeki said he would do to transform the economy is abolish black economic empowerment and affirmative action, so everybody works according to their skills and ability. BEE had created an artificial shortage of skills and had created a fertile ground for corruption, said Mbeki.

The third thing he would do to radically transform the economy was to try and create an environment where new political parties with new government policies were created.

He said South Africa was “for all practical purposes a one party state”, and to indicate how far the Democratic Alliance was in winning over ANC voters, he said that in the last local government election, 37% or four million of voters for the ANC were job seekers.

This amounted to the same number of votes that the DA had received overall.

“The DA is not real competition for the ANC,” Mbeki said.

He said South Africa’s political environment is not much different from that followed by many other African countries in the past.

“There is an iron-clad rule for African liberation movements.

“After 15 to 20 years their electorates start abandoning them because they failed to deliver on promises of prosperity made by the movement to restructure colonial or neo-colonial economies.”

He said that instead of the movement growing prosperity, they instead “got themselves incorporated among the existing elites that they found there”.

He said the ANC, as a nationalist movement, seemed to have adopted the former Afrikaner model of nationalism, which included single party domination, supported by a resource extractive economy, a state-centric development model, and including in the role of the state a provider of cheap labour.

“So who will replace the ANC for new economic policies to come about?” asked Mbeki, adding the ANC may change its leaders, but it does not change policies.

He said if there was no increase in political competition, there would be massive stagnation in South Africa, such as had occurred in many other African countries decades ago that were either under single party or military rule.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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