Economic Freedom: An Obsession with Black and the Ignorance of Precedent?

2015-07-30 08:35

One of my biggest inspirations and icons in political analysis is Kensan Yamamoto, a research fellow at an ‘institute’ in Tokyo. His pieces are habitually honest and thoroughly researched, to the point where he had to adopt a parody persona, while taking care never to release the particulars about which institute he attends.

Though not relevant to the subject at hand, the reason is paramount and obvious. He, because of his writing, runs a simple yet credible risk of being ‘taken out’. This would not be new, back where I come from, tolerance of objective criticism is at times virtually scarce, and dissent is often tantamount to 'selling out'.

Through reading Ken's work, I have come to admire Japanese proverbs, like he does too.

The Japanese vanguards of wisdom say , Shoda mo tsumoreba taiboku-wo taosu’, in other words, a difficult task, (like removing a group from a strong position, or changing established ideas) cannot be done rashly. It can only be achieved gradually, by taking small careful steps, a little at a time.

They say, ‘Atama kakushite, shiri kakusazu’, - that you must not cover your head yet expose your bottom. The moral is that you have to be careful not to uncover your weak point while attempting to protect yourself.

Never has this been as relevant as in present day South Africa. As we speak, the country is gripped by flaring racial tensions repeatedly fed by insensitive populists and their thoroughly daft “shoot the boer  / white people must voetsek" rhetoric.

The country’s indices and indicators for economic performance are ringing red loud alarm bells, jobs are lost daily, and in scary numbers too. The rand is hitting all-time record lows, and the murder rate is now up there with the scariest of places, i.e. Cuernavaca Mexico, Medellin Colombia, and Macapa Brazil.

The country is facing very dark days indeed, quite literally sometimes, especially when Eskom is in the mood.

It is abundantly obvious, that the frustrations of a poorly performing economy, unemployment, and crime, hit disenfranchised black people the hardest. They can be no doubt, no argument about this.

Consequently, at some point, sooner than later, solid and sincere empowerment must be conducted, not to redress the economic imbalances, but raise the standard of living of the ordinary black person, and avail better opportunities and avenues for them to self-actualize, as a deterrent for criminal propensities.

It makes it all the more important as various political groups, like the Economic Freedom Fighters have taken it upon themselves to hump onto the emotions of the frustrated. The agenda of ‘black renaissance and black consciousness’ has now been hijacked and re-branded, the fight for Economic Freedom.

Whilst this is noble, and even noteworthy, it is very worrying, because some elements have altogether stopped preaching the agenda of sustainable and acceptable transformation, choosing instead to expound blatant lawlessness and disregard for property rights.

My ensuing thoughts must never be viewed from a racially tainted glass. I truly sympathize with the marginalized segments of our society. On the other hand, Atama kakushite, shiri kakusazu, we must not expose our buttocks while covering our heads. We must not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Nationalization of an Economy Will Ruin the Country

It does not need a rocket scientist, or a robotics professor to know that nationalizing the economy will hurt South Africa, badly. Repossessing the mines, the land, and the mineral resources will serve no purpose to alleviate poverty and avail more opportunities for blacks. It will do quite the spectacular contrary. History informs us, We cannot afford to be ignorant of precedent.

40 years after Samora Machel nationalized the Mozambican economy, the country is yet to recover to its post-colonial status. Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania was irretrievably annihilated, and well, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe has admitted 15 years after violent land grabs that it erred. According to the Vice President, Zimbabwe is now a good 20 years behind schedule. Is this what we really want for the Rainbow nation?

Central to the subject at hand, it is essential to note that the entire reason for this motion is not black empowerment, but white disdain, and that is not only horribly inhumane, but utterly ill-advised and bound to back fire. Any policies informed by racial prejudice always fail, be it Quota systems in sport, BEE or Apartheid.

One would have assumed that it is common sense that, sending 50,000 white farmers packing simply because they are white will not create jobs for blacks, it will only lead to a substantial loss of jobs, no less than half a million of them at the precious least. It will stagnate production, cause food shortages, and annihilate the economy to levels of near insolvency.

In a few months, South Africa will be like Zimbabwe, importing everything from manufacturing inputs to salt, toothpicks, underwear and even R1 chappies! Such will not be the consequence of going against 'anti-black white monopoly capital' but the result of simple communal sequence. Catastrophe can only be avoided if the country has a ready-made 50,000 alternative black farmers endowed with the same zeal, passion, and skill as their predecessors, if not, the agricultural sector will come to a standstill.

We have already seen this first hand. South Africa is reeling under the serious pinch caused by the series of strikes that crippled the mining sector a few years ago, and by now we ought to know that bringing production to a standstill, and especially for nothing more than an obsession with black skin will only result in more problems.

Whilst I agree that something needs to be done about the unequal divides in society, i am cognisant of the wise words of the Japanese vanguards, Shoda mo tsumoreba taiboku-wo taosu’, - With many little strokes a large tree is felled.

Redressing economic imbalances cannot be achieved through vehement seizure of private property, but through investing in education, enlightening our people, and creating natural opportunities for them to achieve success. It is a process, and one that should not be driven by racial stereotypes, but liberal equality.

We Can’t Lose Our Bright Future Only For The Sake Of Skin Color

I have said it before, the agenda for sustainable economic transformation must be motivated by the desire to create an equal socio-capitalist society and economic order, where all citizens of any race can compete for equal opportunities, without the color of their skin being a huge determinant.

Presently, all calls for black empowerment are sadly motivated by a unique brand of racism. An ignorant form of self-harming racial prejudice. It is ignorant because, it creates racial scapegoats and allows the actual architects of this malaise to roam free, on the ticket of borrowed innocence.

It seems a good number of our people have even forgotten who created the problem, how they created it, and whose responsibility it is to fix it. They have found, in innocent white people, a ‘soft target’ to vent their frustrations.

To be frank, the problems the country faces today, corruption, crime, a shrinking economy, unemployment, and the devil of black disenfranchisement are not the fault of white South Africans. Those problems are a strict and stern creation of the African National Congress.

After 21 years of uninterrupted rule, we cannot allow Jacob Zuma or his government to escape full and total blame for the problems we see today. To this end, Julius Malema’s obsession with the ANC is perhaps fully warranted, though he must drop the ‘whites must die baton’. It is not very nice.

We must not escape indictment as well, because by allowing ourselves to be obsessed with the black skin, we too have permitted the likes of Zuma to get away with murder most foul. Till this day, I struggle to quite understand how a man who genuinely and with all sense believed that taking a bath would limit his risk of contracting HIV/AIDS became the first citizen. I still have vivid images of him singing and dancing, and saying the most repulsive of things as recently as 2005.

He leads us today for no other reason than our obsession with blackness, populist leaders and their promises to deliver freebies. Consequently, by him, today the second biggest economy in Africa is staring at a mean cold death in the face.

I come from a scary history and present (Zimbabwe), and I have seen firsthand how an obsession with skin color can destroy an entire people, dreams, hopes and dignity too. For that alone I still maintain that we cannot for the sake of skin complexion desire to die hungry and pathetic, only if it pleases our little racist egos.

"Tsuno o tamete ushi o korosu" :- Action taken to put something right can end up more unpleasant or damaging than the original problem.

Therein lies the wisdom. South Africa progressed well under Nelson Mandela, under Thabo Mbeki, but faces a very uncertain future today. For those of us who have seen it all before (The precedent), the problems in South Africa, and the desires of The EFF, and some sectors of black community are a painful de ja vu.

It is as if we are in that place again, confronted by the same evils. Blaming the white man for a problem we voted into government, allowing the real culprits to roam free, while simultaneously cheering at the prospect of a bleak future, one that is shaped by racism, hate, irresponsibility, and self-harming economic aspirations.

The lack of prevalent economic empowerment, and indigenization is an injustice which must be addressed now. But have we not learnt enough from the damnation in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, etc.

Have we not learnt from the wonderful example that is Zambia, and Botswana, how we can work together, black, white, or otherwise, to create powerful economies?

Or is it that we are so obsessed with black skin? That we are willing to die from self-inflicted hunger, as long as the leader and perpetrator in chief is black?

Enough Said, #ThisIsAfrica ...

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