Saviours of South Africa: Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu

2016-08-06 08:24

Thank you Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu. Thank you EFF.

Thank you for two reasons.

1. You have taken the votes of the disenfranchised poor and desperate from the corrupt ANC, thereby putting the ANC below 50% in key metros. The ANC party is over. Whoever leads in a municipality had better know that they will have to work, to serve, and not just party and steal.

2. The EFF will push us all to challenge the economic status quo that is crippling our country

Let me explain why 1 is important.

The ANC has done much for the poor in South Africa. We now have a black middle class of about 4 million people – which is 4 million more than during the era of apartheid insanity. However, I believe the ANC and its leaders at all levels have lost their way. They are hopelessly corrupt. They need a strong opposition to keep them in check. Thankfully voters have dealt with the ANC. In the metros they voted for the DA and the EFF, thereby bringing reality back to the corrupt ANC of Jacob Zuma.

With new leadership the DA has embraced and represents non-racial politics in South Africa. The DA voters are largely the tax paying middle and upper classes across all races. The EFF largely represents the black disenfranchised poor. Who does the ANC then largely represent now? Government employees, rural communities and the corrupt?

The point is, the EFF has driven a wedge through the ANC, thereby enabling true opposition politics in South Africa.

Thank you Julius and Floyd.

Now for 2.

The DA has taken Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, and came within a hair’s breadth of taking Johannesburg. The metros are the key centres of economic power in South Africa. The DA seems sensible. They seem to be less corrupt, to execute the basics better, to obey the rule of law. All good, and we will see what the DA can uncover of past corruption and whether they will in fact show how to run a number of metro municipalities efficiently, provide services to all and that with no corruption.

But here is the But, and it’s a big one: will the DA really be able to build a South Africa where all have dignity, where all have food and a home and therefore a South Africa where violent crime has been conquered? Will the DA be able to create a Switzerland in South Africa? I am not so sure about that.

You see, the DA policies are largely based upon the fantasy world of academic economists from the industrialised world, most notably from the United States of America. Their “recipe of economic success” for developing countries such as South Africa? Here it is:

all the needs of your society will be met through the invisible hand of the market, through people driven purely by self-interest creating and selling products and services to each across the globe

open your borders to products from all over the world

if your local industries cannot compete against the best in the world, then just shut down your own local industry and buy from the rest of the world. Even though you are losing jobs quickly now, trust us that in the long run you will all be better off this way.

privatise all industry and keep government as small as possible

do not tax the wealthy, because by not taxing the wealthy you allow them to invest their money, leading to more jobs for more people over time and therefore to a better life for all South Africans. The wealthy are much better at investment than government, so all will be better as long as the wealthy do not pay tax.

people must cope on their own with no support from anyone else – if they do not have a job and did not pay private medical aid, disability and other insurance, did not pay pension etc. then let them starve or steal to survive and lock them up in privately run prisons if they do. This is a great motivator for poor people, because if we help too many then they will just do nothing but sit around and drink or use drugs or otherwise waste the hard earned money of the rich and the middle class. If they do use drugs lock them up as well. Whatever you do -don’t try to treat them or help them.

be very careful about how you create money – only create money to increase production for those that already have money – if you create money to provide the goods and services desperately needed by those that do not already have money, you will destroy your currency and country

better yet, do not create your own money, rather lend dollars and pounds from us. That way we can charge you compound interest on money we created, thereby keeping you in our debt forever. You have lost most of your local industry anyway due to your lovely open borders, so why would we want your money since you have almost nothing to sell anymore except stuff you dig out of the ground

The above is roughly what is known as a neoliberal economic policy, also as the Washington consensus.

It is clearly a recipe for disaster. Well, disaster for developing countries and heaven for industrialised countries. The truth is that EVERY country that has ever industrialised and became part of the developed world club has absolutely NOT followed this recipe. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan – all of the Asian tigers. Same for the US and Europe. In the old days of empire and colonialism it was called Mercantilism. Emperors are gone but not much has changed.

The US civil war was as much about trade policy as slave labour, with the issues of trade and slavery being tightly intertwined. The US South exported cotton and used slave labour. The rich slave masters cared little for creating a vibrant mixed economy. In fact, they feared it since it would likely lead to their slaves being emancipated. The North in turn was trying to build a manufacturing based economy, not based on slavery but based on a free and fair society where all form part of and benefit from production. The North needed protection from the already industrialised United Kingdom. The slave master South and the industrialised United Kingdom did not want the North to develop. War followed, the North won, took control of their monetary policy, protected their nascent industry and from that time on the US truly flourished.

The parallels with South Africa are striking. Poor black people used as cheap labour in mining and agriculture. Free trade agreements in place so the gold, diamonds, platinum and agriculture can be sold internationally. A dying manufacturing industry with the well-off not really caring since they buy all they need from the manufacturers in trading partner countries.

In truth the how of creating a country that serves the needs of all its people is well understood, just not very well shared. The same approach to development has been repeated over and over and over: protect your nascent industries from international competitors, use government policy and money to support these industries, push them to export and once you are competitive, trumpet “Free Trade” to all countries that have not yet done the same so that they must continue buying from you. China is right now using trade laws and government support to protect and nurture its developing electric car industry.

Developed and developing countries the world over protect and still use forms of capital controls to protect their fledgling and struggling industries as they develop and become world class. The government played and still plays a huge role in the economy, markets are protected from foreign competition and when the infallible markets fail, government steps in to save it. The US government took over Ford and General Motors. It saved the corrupt banks owned by the rich.

Neoliberal economics is a scam that serves the rich in developed countries and the rich in developing countries. Yes, neoliberal policies are better than centrally planned communist policies where human innovation is stifled and corruption even more rife, but that does not at all mean that neoliberal economic policies are the best of the best.

Neoliberal is not only the DA’s recipe, but also that of the ANC. The only additional elements of the ANC are the following:

pretend to have a market based economy with fair competition

pretend to believe in and uphold the rule of law, the constitution and competitive markets

make sure that the poor and middle class majority are prosecuted when they break the law. This so that as many people as possible believe that you actually take these neoliberal economic policies seriously

pursue your true goal – enrichment of yourself, family and corrupt friends – and make it easy by rigging markets, through bribes and corruption and by simple theft of public money

protect yourself from the laws which stop others from doing these despicable things by putting stooges in charge who then selectively apply the laws of the land

Where have these neoliberal policies brought us?

To the most unequal society in the world. Massive infrastructure needs and 8 million unemployed. Huge amounts of work to be done and millions desperate to do it for some money. But, there is apparently no money so nothing gets done. We don’t build the infrastructure our people need, we have millions unemployed and desperate, crime is rampant, the rich live in security estates and the poor millions in shacks.

A dystopian society filled with excess and misery. A society that is well on track to self-destruction.

In summary?

there is no way in hell that the ANC will ever create a South Africa with dignity and joy for all. The corrupt ANC leadership would have to prosecute themselves and send themselves to jail. This will never happen while the ANC is fully in charge.

the DA may really believe in neoliberal economic policies and may try its best to get them to work, but the policies are flawed so the DA will ultimately fail as well but will at least do considerably better than the hopelessly corrupt ANC

So, this brings us yet again to the EFF. To Julius and Floyd.

I do not ascribe to all that the EFF says. But what I do agree with is that the same ‘ol same ‘ol is not gonna cut it. The Washington consensus is rubbish.

I have some views about what we must do as a country, and I wrote the freely available eBook Societal Renaissance to explain what must change and why. It involves devolving more power to municipalities, obtaining underutilised land for social use, about building quality housing at scale and making it available to the poor, about changing our monetary policy, about moving to a more socialist country but with full transparency and devolved power structures where power is wielded by citizens, not politicians.

There are quite some similarities between EFF policy and what I propose for South Africa. The EFF is prepared to be “radical”. The DA is anti-corruption and pro-efficiency.

I do not fully trust Julius and Floyd. Not yet. It is a pity that the EFF did not get its own municipality so that we could see what they are really made of and whether they will walk their talk. But perhaps the EFF is better as a partner in government, ensuring that the needs of our poor are top of mind and front and centre in our municipalities.

The DA/EFF is what our metros need. Efficiency, no corruption and very importantly a willingness to give the middle finger to the Washington consensus.

So to Julius and Floyd I say:

thank you, thank you, thank you.

And when it comes to DA/ANC blind faith in the neoliberal Washington consensus?

EFF, Floyd, Julius – please - Give ‘em Hell

Follow me @LionelBisschoff

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