27/01/2021
The Common Tator

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Will our Constitutional Democracy Survive?

In the High court ruling yesterday, albeit a much-critiqued document, a key takeaway is identified. We have, in South Africa, as identified by Judge Davis, an enshrined Bill of Rights, that will serve to frustrate the ANC’s wish for Radical Economic Transformation (RET) via Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC) and National Health Insurance (NHI) while destroying the so called “White Economy”.

That change is necessary is without question. For too long our beloved country has struggled along, not achieving the tremendous potential it has in its resources, people and their ingenuity and the geographical importance of our position on the southern end of Africa.

Blighted by rampant corruption and rent seeking, unfair concentrations of economic power and advantage in the hands of a few, ideological polarity that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated to all in stark reality, we face our reset moment without clear leadership.

More challenges to the “unconstitutional” handling of the pandemic by the ANC are on the way. These are in the form of FITA and BAT’s smoking rights challenges, the DA’s constitutional validity without parliamentary oversight question in the highest court, and the HRC’s application to keep schools closed.

Each challenge will lead to an addition to the opinion that regulations need to minimise the impact on our constitutional rights. Each judge will have to give cognisance to the previous rulings and opinion, finding if the current matter addresses something other than already considered. And so we will end up with an interpreted constitution, and contrite government who we know will continue in its path of rightuous “we know better”.

We can expect that our learned judiciary will examine the applicable laws and rights contained in the constitution, and opine on their supremacy over the misguided application of regulations and opportunism extant, showing that our founding fathers at CODESA have a lot to be thanked for. It should survive the test.

The really sad part is that I don’t believe that President Ramaposa, or the ANC led government, actually believe that they are not acting in our best interests. Perhaps they are used to dealing with uneducated masses, but the ever growing middle class of the country is not that easily told what it can and can not do.

But we are in pain at present because our society is not a just or fair one, it shows huge disparity in our societies, both the well-heeled and the poor, with an uneven playing field available for leading our country out of this mire.

So back to leadership.

Any businessman worth his salt will tell you that to start a successful business, it is all about the planning. From what the business sells, to marketing, how to finance the developmental steps, recruitment, and training into the execution phases.

So too, our country needs a plan that all can buy in to. The ANC’s and EFF’s RET has been tried over and again on the continent, without any success, so why will it work now. It is after all just a large state controlled implementation of communism / socialism, where human rights are sacrificed at the altar of this ideology and the racial implementation of its statutes, ownership is for the politically connected, and the vast majority continue on a disempowered path. This plan is not modern, nor suited to our complex society.

The Liberal “right” believes in the sanctity of the free market, and capitalistic model, without any more than lip service to empowerment and transformation, believing this will be baked into the cake as the economy carries on growing, and jobs and prosperity are created. Unfortunately, history shows us that this leads to large income disparities, exploitation, and a furtherance of the concentration of wealth within a few. Yes, along the way, the downtrodden get somewhat more of the scraps falling from the overloaded table, but this is not change either.

The new plan needs to deal with the eradication of poverty and should do this by addressing some key areas. The first of these is economic empowerment. You will note the “B” is not present in that phrase. This is because a properly formulated economic empowerment scheme will not have a racial bias, nor will it allow the enrichment of the connected, but would provide the finance for transformational change in education, health and medical aid, opportunity and ownership, with benefit accruing to the hard working, while sacrificing a reasonable percentage to redressing our past wrongs.

Service delivery and infrastructure is a function of taxation spend, now that it is alleviated of the overhead of the economic empowerment, thereby reducing the burden on the state and its finances and the application thereof.

SOE’s and a reduced “leaner” government and civil service are mandatory changes to policy. No longer EE/AA but as we go forward this can morph into meritorious employment, starting at the top, and working its way throughout. This does not need to be implemented all in one go, but incrementally as the economic empowerment begins to have effect in education and skills development.

Privatisation with a buy back principle after the economic return is realised has not been discussed in the national debate. It should be.

EWC robbs the country from external investment commitment, putting in doubt the ownership that is required in order to satisfy security of tenure. FInancing needs to be found to redress the distribution metric of the past, such financing would be small as compared to the continuous SOE bailouts thus far. So why take without paying?

With respect labour, there is a need to ensure equanimity between sexes, at least as far as the formal sector is concerned. But two distinct problems soon raise their head. Firstly is the minimum wage issue and secondly the ability to size up and down as required. To address these, consideration needs to be given to a short term minimum breaking mechanism, where gig type employment can be offered on an internship basis for a period at less than the minimum wage. The ability to downsize is in each employment contract, but legislation has made a mess of the employers side of this agreement. Lets go back to … It is a contract, and earnings are eaned, including all cumulative benefits, but that doesn’t change the ability to give notice in terms of the contract. Tenure thus becomes earned and at mutual discretion as it has a diffferent overall cost.

As we head out of the challenging times, brought about by this pandemic, new spokespersons will be found. With a plan like this, well that is something that can be led.

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