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LETTER: SIMPLISTIC ‘TRANSFORMATION’ NARRATIVE CONTINUES TO DISTRACT

Ben Cockram | 16 January 2023

Picture: 123RF/MOOV STOCK


Jeffrey Mothuloe’s response to Jesse Naidoo's article cannot go unchallenged (“SA’s economy will be in the hands of white people for many more decades”, January 11).


The narrative that black poverty is maintained/ensured by white control of the economy is one we know and understand. It is a legacy of SA's history, especially the apartheid policies that were in place until 1994. However, in 2023 it is a narrative that continues to dangerously confuse the issue and prevent any real progress.


The policies adopted by government since 1994 around the notion of “transformation”, are simply based on how we share the pie more equally to benefit black people. It is an emotional political rallying point. This is understandable — the worst crime of apartheid was arguably the deplorable humiliation of black people.


It is a narrative that would normally be challenged in any democracy as part of the normal contestation of ideas. In SA with our poverty, race, inequality and education there is no meaningful challenge. This simplistic “transformation” narrative continues to distract long after it has any practical merit in improving the lives of black people.


Simply put, any growth in the economy is going to directly benefit all people in the country, and those with the most to gain will experience the greatest relative improvement in their lives. If the economy grows at 5% or 7% per annum the greatest beneficiaries will be black people. The new opportunities created will be largely taken up by black people.


White people in SA are largely well off, but a small percentage of the whole and important contributors to the fiscus. The transformation narrative is therefore very much a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face.


Don’t look to corporate SA to solve these problems, it doesn't work that way. Allow new businesses, both local and via foreign investment, get on their feet. Allow independent businesses to thrive and all people whose talents currently lie idle will find opportunity.


If we are looking for what really takes power out of the hands of poor people in this country the answer will be found in traditional tribal power, which prevents individual private asset development in tribal areas (and relies on patronage for liquidity), and the damaging ideological direction offered by government.


SA relies on foreign direct investment to thrive and investors who would gladly invest in SA are simply waiting for us to sort ourselves out. As soon as SA shows an intention to affirm the constitution and rule of law, dismantle the transformation agenda and guarantee no impediment for foreign investment, SA will assert itself as the best choice for investors looking to establish themselves in Africa.


It will take a brave black politician to end any talk of transformation in SA, but this is exactly what we need.


‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.



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