Occupy or Protect Luthuli House! A strong ANC remains out of commission on the Social Capital of Africans

2016-09-08 14:51

When it comes to social commentary and the social media, we all seem to have an opinion. Such is the addiction to the platforms that our online existence places us in new social circles and lifts our debates to levels unimagined. When we speak out of turn or we err, we remain buffered from scrutiny afforded mainline media. Our views become the centre of ideological debates and we sometimes forget, “a pen of a ready writer still comes with responsibility.

As a proponent of the ANC reading this article please consider that I vote the ACDP, and thus I do not write as member of a party faction, nor am I writing this article to advocate the exit of the President of the party. I am though writing this article to defend the fundamentals demonised in the article titled OF GENGHIS KAHN, MARK ZUCKERBERG AND THE ANC MINDSET published this week on Voices. It is though a call of urgency on the ANC to rise to its historic promise of liberation.

ANC losing hold of the people’s movement tag!

“…this African National Congress has become the new Parliament and the official medium of expression for all Africans. It is now towards this Sanctuary of Freedom that all African tribes and chiefs must turn their faces and pray for their salvation and for the salvation of their people. There is no other way by which our people may be saved except by following the mandate of the African National Congress. It is our duty to make that Congress as strong as possible.”

Pixley Isaka Seme, ANC President 1937–1940

Borrowing the definition of Social Capital, it is the ability to secure benefit by virtue of memberships, relationships or other social structures. Our South African story attests to how structured relationships are a catalyst or constrain to opportunities for individuals and business, especially small businesses. The ability for individuals to receive employment or for small businesses to supply major ones, hinges in most instance on close ties. Supply relationships have shown that business are comfortable to engage with other smaller ones when they either know them or they have been referred to—even if this means accepting higher cost arrangements. As such opportunities to supply the market are eased when you either have an existing presence or know people on the inside.

When the ANC became a government in 1994, their immediate responsibility was to build and improve the Social Capital of black people. This would not have been unusual for South Africa, as was the case when the British exited in 1960. The development of Social Capital amongst the Afrikaner people through conscription of young men and their employment within State owned enterprises, ensured benefit to the majority of their people. Thus the expectation for the ANC to establish a programme in a similar mould in 1994 would have been justified by the success of the precedence. Especially because the networks created through that period remain intact till this day.

Some will argue that the ANC narrative has not changed from the 1937 quote above, by Pixley Isaka Seme.  I would contend though that the call for a stronger ANC has become a lament that we are all beginning to cry.  The following casing points are but a few indicting examples of where the gaps remain even today, for the Congress lag in correcting the balance of Social Capital:

Lower end example: Collecting recyclable waste is the most basic available economic activity in society in South Africa. Imagine however those recyclable waste collectors are unable to sell directly manufactures as standard practice, and the advanced reasons is that the manufacturers have lifelong contract established in the 80s or 70s with middleman buyers. This goes against all capitalist ideas of competition and market price determination. In fact collectors, are not sure what prices they will get each day, and remain at the mercy of the middle man gatekeeper. The levels at which this has hampered the growth of the sector is yet to be quantified but it’s not in line with any Neoliberal ideas on how industry is built. The middleman buys at almost exploitative levels and sells at high prices.

Higher end Example: Between 1994 and 2014, the number of black graduates with degrees being produced each year has grown by over 400% from 11 339 (in 1994) to 48 686 graduates (in 2014) compared with 9% for whites. However in 2015 black graduate unemployment was about 9% compared to 3% for whites, showing a better absorption rate for the latter. If this attests to the strength of the latter’s social capital, then a Congress has an immediate goal to reach. This parity is an achievable goal, which would have been properly legislated if employment equity also came with an employment creation programme - subject to another article.

The resulting Asymmetry is not a measure of democracy, nor is it a measure of capitalism. If it was so, there would not be any frowning to the idea of Cadre deployment, which also ensures the benefit of people from long standing relationships.

Are modern day Industrialist, new world adventurers?

“Scientific inventions, at all conceivable levels should enrich human life, not threaten existence. Science should be the greatest ally, not the worst enemy of mankind. Only so can the world, not only respond to the worthy efforts of Nobel, but also ensure itself against self-destruction. Indeed the challenge is for us to ensure the world from self-destruction.”

Albert Luthuli, ANC President 1952 - 1967

The idea that in the world today, it's survival of the fittest and the unfit are left to their own ruin is disingenuous to the truth. If one was to ever compare Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Thutmose III to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, they would be ignoring Corporate Governance. King Code in South Africa not only provides a practical, principle based approach to good corporate governance, but also incorporates both global public sentiment and international regulation. Thus before we assume parallels between explorers and modern day industrialists, Corporates are developed with responsibility. Bill gate foundation, Zuckerberg Foundation, Warren Buffet are great philanthropists and their corporation are obligated to also be charitable by governance, it’s called the triple bottom line- subject to another article.

Humanity does not wait for its self-destruction, because there is speculative science that supports an oblique idea. The existence of achievers like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Siya Xuza, Sandile Ngcobo in science and technology and achieving world first does not make these guys an exceptional class to justify the following:

South Korea and South Africa have almost equal population sizes, with South Africa having more land. Their economies are different sizes with South Korea having more Gross National Income (GNI) per population size at US $20,870 compared to South Africa’s US $6,960. The structures of the two economies are different but the fundamental contrast between the two economies is on the number of post high school tertiary institutions. South Korea has 100 times more institutions than South Africa even with South Africa’s bigger land availability.

Major Universities accept only 20% of the applications they receive each year and most of those opportunities will not culminate into graduation opportunities due financial exclusion (failure by student to pay fees). Surely the desire by the public to study and learn should be reciprocated by opportunities to do so. If we are genuinely call education a “game changer” in the lives of the poor, we need wiser ways to look at this subject.

The debate on Fees must fall is a crucial debate to the development of South Africa and requires close scrutiny. There is no justification for R 300 million worth of vandalism in protests seeking, financial support. The two cancel each other. However if we are to create $12,000 GNI per capita society, it would take educating the public.

This challenge does require three things though: the creation of studying opportunities, Financing those opportunities and ensuring the absorption and value addition to the economy by the developed skills base. Again an indictment placed on the Congress and also the technocracy within Government.

ANC and its definition of Symmetry!   

“In your struggle, you are not fighting for the Indians alone. You are fighting for the freedom of all South Africa, White and Black. The Europeans in South Africa cannot be free while three-fourths of the population, the Non-Europeans, are not free. You are fighting to make South Africa a democracy. You are fighting to save our country from committing national suicide.”

Alfred Bitini Xuma, ANC President 1940 - 1949

The idea that we are to believe that the ANC over promised, when the goal was as simple as Freedom for all in 1994 is preposterous. The mind-set of Freedom for all has always been attached to the political and economic liberation of all South African. This mind-set should be true of all South Africans, that Freedom is for all, should also reflect  on how we treat our poor and how we collaborate for the wellbeing of all – A new Social Capital project.

Is the ANC suffering from Dunning Kruger Effect?

Does the ANC suffer from a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority? Fees must fall debate is failure of state to create learning opportunities for a public willing to work hard academically, to curve a route to success. This does not reflect an illusion of grandeur but reflects an incompetence that can be corrected.

If the goal is the improved Social Capital for previously marginalised youth through education, the debate is not why it should be the case but how it should be achieved. There has never been evidence from the fees must fall campaign exhibiting an uninformed superiority on the part of the ANC to deny the challenge is not real; encouraging the vandalism of Universities infrastructure; and showing that the party is on track with fixing the challenges of access to tertiary education.

We need a strong Congress!

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