The causes of these two main issues hampering poverty relief and service delivery in South Africa are government’s twin policies of BEE and affirmative action.
Don’t get me wrong. Poverty – even if you do have the vote – prevents you from enjoying freedom, and it is essential that blacks become economically empowered.
It is essential, too, that past injustices are righted and that those who were disadvantaged during apartheid are given a quality education and equal opportunities in the workplace, university and government.
The issue is that government has failed to do just that.
Since 1994, government has ruthlessly purged about 100 000 qualified whites from the civil service. A skills shortage has developed as often nonwhite replacements in government don’t necessarily have the skills or experience required for their jobs.
That is not their fault – it is because apartheid’s legacy has not been effectively dealt with. That these government employees are so ill-equipped to carry out their mandate is an indictment on our disastrous education system which continues to deteriorate.
The general national skills shortage has been exacerbated by the inadequacy of our appalling SITA programme which takes businesses’ money and ploughs it into investment funds and goodness knows what else – certainly not scholarships and training like they were supposed to.
Because the vital skills transfer to nonwhites has thus occurred only minimally, service delivery has been crippled, our economy’s growth is hindered and millions are still lift impoverished.
BEE is an insult to the millions of poor South Africans and their ancestors who were oppressed under apartheid and colonial rule. It is an insult because it has resulted in little more than the creation of tiny black elite and an economic system based on patronage and intrigue rather than merit and innovation.
Whatever her qualities, it is both shocking and ridiculous that the “Queen BEE”, Danisa Baloyi, was on the boards of 71 companies (until she became embroiled in the Fidentia debacle, that is).
Moeletsi Mbeki, the president’s brother, says: “BEE looks deceptively like a form of reparation. The reality, however, is very different. BEE is a formula for co-opting – and perhaps even corrupting – ANC leaders by enriching them as private individuals.”
In this self-enrichment free-for-all, the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” couldn’t be more apt. All the while, across South Africa, the destitute remain suffering.