South Africa set to become a three party state!

2014-11-17 12:10

The South African political landscape is set to change dramatically with the expulsion of Numsa from the ANC alliance. My guess is South Africa is heading towards a three party state: The Socialists who seek state ownership and a greater share of profits generated from goods and services produced, the Pragmatists who seek individual ownership and empowerment of the masses through the free market system and the Crony Capitalists who seek unbridled self-enrichment through state tenders and abuse of political patronage.

Plans are afoot to launch the United Front in December of this year, a broad based socialist movement that is committed to advance the interests of the working class. Socialists are of the view that workers are exploited and that their talents at their expense are geared towards maximising profits for owners only. According to Irvin Jim, secretary general of NUMSA workers are ‘duped’ into sharing information about what they do to improve productivity at the point of production. Such information is then used to reduce the number of workers without compromising volumes of production.

The central thrust of all of the arguments in support of a socialist state is to mobilise the working class in order to advance the material wellbeing of workers through the appropriation and redistribution of surplus value by the state.

Whilst socialism is on the upsurge, a new free market paradigm propagated by the Pragmatists is also on the rise. The National Development Plan (NDP) under the auspices of the National Planning Commission, a cohort of astute political, business and academic leaders, laid the foundation for this paradigm. In practice it takes on the form of a socio-economic plan to tackle head on the complexities of a highly unequal and fragmented society such as ours. Organised business formations and key political players embraced the plan, whilst it was rejected by socialist labour movements such as Numsa.

The central thrust of all arguments put forward in the NDP is that rapid economic growth is the solution to our social challenges such as poverty, inequality and unemployment. Economic growth is realised through a pragmatic approach. Some of the key principles underlying this approach entail creating a conducive environment to attract local and foreign direct investment, growing an inclusive economy, fostering a spirit of unity amongst our people, promoting active citizenry, building private and public sector capacity, advancing a capable and developmental state which is professional, competent and responsive to the needs of all citizens and activating servant leadership at all levels of society.

For the objectives in the National Development Plan to be translated into tangible outcomes communities, government, labour and business must start focussing on the fundamentals such as quality education, empowerment of people, a disciplined and productive work environment, enforcing rule of law, broadening of ownership and entrenching of rights and duties over individually owned properties, as well as holding people to account.

The Crony Capitalists on the other hand thrive on patronage and the trading of ‘inside’ information for personal favours. Cosy relationships between those who seek business opportunities within the state and those in powerful government positions who seek financial rewards for their hand in securing it, is the hallmark of crony capitalism.

Whilst the narrow sectarian interests that characterised the political landscape prior 94 made way for national interests’ post ‘94, it was soon replaced by self-interests and personal enrichment. Horror stories about the so called tenderpreneurs continue to be splashed all over the electronic and print media and the greed of those who enriched themselves at the expense of the poor are laid bare in our courts on a daily basis.

In addition Crony Capitalists do not have an appetite for merit and democratic processes. It seeks to centralise authority and favours the appointment of cronies who will not question decisions by the powers that be. This state of affairs can easily plunge South Africa into civil conflict and is certainly in nobody’s interest, accept those who thrive on chaos and looting.

Hence, who will save South Africa from this downward trajectory of embedded corruption and economic stagnation, the Socialists or Pragmatists?

I bet my money on the Pragmatists, because the militant mobilisation propagated by Numsa and the likes against owners of capital is in nobody’s interest. In an ever changing local and global economic and technology driven environment investments by entrepreneurs, talent optimisation, new ideas, innovativeness, competitiveness, modernisation, scientific research, high order skills, internet access, infrastructure development, continuous adaptation and strategic economic organisation should be encouraged not discouraged.

It is however incumbent upon the Pragmatists to convince Joe public to opt for this route. Marketing the value proposition of a new free market paradigm based on the NDP as opposed to what the old order unbridled capitalist system and its legacies of human and environmental exploitation has to offer, therein lies the crux. More importantly though is the need to establish a new political formation consisting of Pragmatists from existing political formations that seeks faster growth, more efficient social spending and an inclusive and modern free market system.

The battle is on for the hearts and minds of the South African electorate. Don’t expect any threesomes!

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