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In a post-Zuma SA, sacrifice will be needed

In the wake of the Gupta leaks, polarisation in SA has increased significantly with a strange alliance of free-market (mostly DA), populist (mostly EFF) and disgruntled ANC voices (often repressed) on the one side with Zuma and Gupta defenders on the other side. The current discourse often ignores the elephant in the room, which is that with a sky high unemployment rate, faltering economic growth and poor education outcomes, serious changes are needed in SA, regardless of who is at the helm. If we do not aggressively address the inequality in our country, exacerbated by these factors, we are at risk of a populist uprising, which could set us back significantly. Sacrifice will be needed.

The Zuma and Gupta defenders faction is aggressively employing a strategy of shifting focus away from the accusations of corruption and weak delivery toward the ills of what they call White Monopoly Capital. On the other side, you find a strange union of populists, who want Zuma out of the way to deliver genuine redistribution, aided by nationalisation and seizure together with ardent supporters of the free market, many of whom are fed up with funding an often inefficient government and yearn for the days gone by.

Because of the polarised environment, these two factions often misunderstand each other and may be talking across purposes. Firstly, not everyone who is concerned about the influence and ownership of the white population on the SA economy are simply taking this stance as a way of defending Zuma (and the Guptas). Many of them have valid concerns, including the extreme inequality in our country (to a great extent along racial lines), the high unemployment and the low economic growth.

Secondly, not everyone who is calling for the ouster of Zuma and the removal of Gupta influence is a closet racist secretly yearning for the return of Apartheid. Many of this faction are genuinely concerned that the country is poorly run and recognise that for the long-term success of SA, we need better education outcomes, increased employment and higher economic growth.

What is plain to me though is that whatever happens to Zuma, whoever succeeds him and whoever wins the 2019 general election, serious issues need to be addressed in SA and it will take sacrifice from especially the wealthy in the country. Even if the DA manages to secure a victory (outright or through coalition) in 2019, they will have to continue with and implement new more aggressive redistribution policies in addition to dealing with the existing challenges of our country, including poor education outcomes, crime, healthcare, unemployment and weak economic growth. Even if the new government manages to enhance efficiency (reduce corruption) and achieves better bang for the taxpayer buck, this is unlikely to be enough. To fully address the growing challenges of our country, especially in the light of a rising debt load, pressure on exports and credit downgrades, whoever takes over will have to seriously look at the tax dispensation.

The aim of the new government should be to enhance its tax revenue through higher tax rates and possibly a wealth tax (which will put direct tax pressure on wealthy citizens and corporations), but in exchange to deliver improved services (which could reduce the indirect tax burden, including school fees, private health costs and security); to drive skills development to make the populace more employable; and to create a conducive environment for economic growth and job creation.

Any party who claims that they can create a stable and growing economy, which provides opportunities for all and reduces inequality, without raising taxes, may be fooling themselves. At the same time, any Zuma and Gupta opponent that thinks that their removal and replacement will usher in a golden age of growth and wealth creation without sacrifice, will be hugely disappointed.

We are facing some serious challenges. Our first phase of redistribution (from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s), which resulted in significantly improved service-delivery, the creation of a large and growing black middle class, the transfer of meaningful corporate ownership through BEE and the introduction of a basic (albeit insufficient) safety net through grants, occurred during a period of almost unprecedented asset appreciation, commodity price increases and economic growth.

These tailwinds are gone now. We cannot depend on rising asset prices to lead to almost all BEE transactions being successful and creating an effective transfer of wealth. We cannot depend on high commodity prices to buoy our exports and support our tax receipts. We cannot depend on low interest rates to allow us the freedom to drive lending-based growth.

We have to find a solution that will be effective in the world we live in. Part of this solution will necessitate a South African New Deal, where the haves pay more in tax, which is utilised to upskill the have-nots, to employ them through infrastructure programmes and to provide them with many more opportunities to increase their economic participation across the board.

At the same time, steps should be taken to kickstart economic growth, including liberalising labour markets, creating an attractive tax environment for selected globally competitive (or potentially competitive) industries, selective public private partnerships to explore growing industries (Eskom in the renewable energy sector stands out), less stringent immigration requirements to allow us to attract more skills and much increased government efficiency where we get much more value for the tax rands spent.

It is my view that the majority of privileged South Africans as well as the corporate sector would be more than willing to make the necessary sacrifices as long as they see the long-term benefits that could emerge and the risks that could be moderated. Those that do not, should seriously consider the alternative, which is rising populism, increasing economic disruption and growing polarisation.

Really successful companies are not scared to invest for future growth and sacrificing short-term earnings in exchange for a more certain stream of growing earnings going forward. The average well-off South African should have a similar view. Rather sacrifice income and consumption in the short-term, in exchange for a less uncertain and brighter future. What is of course vital is that whoever increases the burden on South Africans does so from a position of zero tolerance for corruption and at the same time, significantly increases the efficiency of how tax rands are spent. Those who are currently unwilling to sacrifice may soon change their minds if they see concrete delivery. That is at least my hope.

Do you think that the removal of Zuma and Gupta influence will automatically lead to a better life for you and your family? Are you prepared to sacrifice when asked by new leadership who promises improved delivery and a more secure future? Do you think you can have your cake and eat it or are you more realistic? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#GuptaLeaks #WhiteMonopolyCapital #NewDeal

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


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Time to organise, not divide

After the shock cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma early Friday morning, South Africans of all walks of life expressed outrage, called for action and started to organise. The land swell of opposition, including the usual suspects, but also members of the ANC top 6, axed ministers, struggle stalwarts and growing numbers of grassroots ANC members, reached its zenith at the memorial of fallen struggle hero, Ahmed Kathrada with an emotional and stinging speech by his widow Barbara Hogan. Since then, cracks have started to show with competing calls for marches, a serious backlash against the #BlackMonday hashtag and a perceived lack of action against Helen Zille by the DA. What should be clear to everyone is that the removal of the President Zuma cannot be achieved without significant support from ANC members and MPs either inside or outside of Parliament. For the latter, co-operation between disillusioned ANC members and the opposition is key. Unilateral and ill-conceived actions are guaranteed to dilute any such attempt. Now is the time to organise, not divide for all parties determined to reclaim the country.

Over the course of the weekend, there was no (maybe well-intentioned) campaign that has done more to dilute opposition to the unilateral actions of the President than the #BlackMonday hashtag. On Twitter, vocal opponents to the reshuffle who were earlier calling for the resignation of the President started to express outrage at the campaign, asking pertinent questions like where was black Monday after the Marikana massacre, during the #FeesMustFall campaign, in opposition to recent racist events and of course in opposition to Apartheid. The tag was poorly chosen in my opinion and not enough was done to organise a united front (e.g. SAFTU and Zwelenzima Vavi are embarking on another #OccupyTreasury march this morning).

The DA press conference on the future of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille also served to dilute the opposition to the President with many calling on it to clean its own house before speaking out against the President. However, in my opinion, there was no way that the DA press conference could have had a more severe outcome for the Western Cape Premier. She is facing a disciplinary hearing and the DA leader, Mmusi Maimane clearly stressed that it was for bringing the party into disrepute and not a freedom of speech issue. It would serve the DA well to expedite this process so that its undiluted energy could be focused on the crisis in our country.

In my opinion, the DA is making a strategic error in calling for a march to Luthuli House on Friday. There is nothing that will be more effective in encouraging the ANC to close ranks than a partisan initiative like this. This move smacks of political opportunism rather than a genuine desire to deal with the current crisis. Instead, the DA should reach out to other opposition parties, organisations and disgruntled ANC members to organise a united series of actions, including marches. They and the EFF will after all need all the support they can get to have any chance of success with a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

And this is where the focus should lie, in my opinion. All actions taken in the coming days and weeks should be aimed at encouraging enough ANC MPs to vote their conscience if and when the vote of no confidence is tabled in Parliament. Already, Pravin Gordhan has become a focal point for opposition, calling on South Africans to organise and stating that he will be guided by his conscience and “do the right thing” when a vote of no confidence arrives. If more MPs are to follow their conscience, it is imperative not to give them a reason to close ranks, but instead to include them and all opposition parties and organisations in upcoming actions. It is time to organise, not divide.

Are you wearing black today? Do you support unilateral actions by the DA and other parties/organisations? Would you prefer a unified set of actions, including marches? Do you believe ANC MPs will break ranks? Do you think a vote of no confidence will succeed this time? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#BlackMonday #CabinetReshuffle #PravinGordhan

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


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Defend your legacy Helen Zille

Helen Zille is poised for a fight in the coming weeks, following her now infamous colonialism tweets. A snap debate in the Western Cape legislature, followed by a meeting with the EFF and a meeting of the DA Fedex could decide her ultimate fate. It is likely that she will not go down without a fight, a fight for her political life, a fight to maintain her influence in the DA, a fight for her legacy. This would be a mistake, which could do lasting damage to her legacy and hamper the growth of the DA, which is her crowning achievement. Ultimately the best way for Helen Zille to defend her legacy is to allow the DA, which she nurtured from a sapling to a thriving adult, to continue growing and to become a national force for political competition. Ironically and sad for Helen Zille, the best way to ensure the continued expansion of the DA’s canopy, encompassing a larger and more diverse cross-section of the currently undecided, is for her to step out of the way.

Helen Zille emerged on the SA political scene as a journalist in the 1970s, best known for breaking the story of Steve Biko’s death in custody. In the 1980s, she was involved in the Anti-Apartheid movement through leadership in the Black Sash and other organisations. Her leadership role within the DA started in 1999 when she became a member of the Western Cape Legislature. She became an MP in 2004, Cape Town mayor in 2006 and DA leader in 2007. She remained DA leader until 2015 and is still Premier of the Western Cape (a position she assumed in 2009).

In the last general election (2004) before Zille took over as DA leader, the party received 12% of the national vote. By 2014, before she ended her tenure, this had increased to 22%. Over the same period, DA support in the Western Cape increased from 27% to 59%. During the 2016 municipal election, the DA retained Cape Town (with 66% of the votes) and took control of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities. The success that the DA achieved under the leadership of Helen Zille is undeniable.

All things being equal and prior to the current ruckus surrounding Helen Zille’s tweets and possible disciplinary hearing, the DA was heading towards further electoral gains in the 2019 general election with control of Gauteng being a distinct possibility. What a wonderful feather in the cap of Helen Zille would it not be for the DA to take control of the richest province in SA and moving even closer to being a serious force at national level? Would this not be a crowning achievement cementing her legacy in post-Apartheid SA politics? Should Helen Zille not do everything in her power to make sure that this outcome comes to pass?

A fight within the DA over the future of Helen Zille could very well distract it from achieving its and her goals, whether she wins the battle or not. If she does win the battle, this will become the main talking point of those who want to paint the DA as a racist party and this would inevitably slow the party’s growth in non-traditional constituencies. The DA therefore faces the risk, like the ANC, that disagreement over leadership and the unwillingness of a divisive leader to step down, causes factionalism, distraction and electoral disappointment.

Helen Zille is faced with a difficult decision. Does she fight to maintain her position in the party or does she do what’s best for the party and her legacy? Does she take a page out of the book of Nelson Mandela or out of the book of Jacob Zuma and Margaret Thatcher? Time will tell.

Do you believe that Helen Zille will face a disciplinary hearing? Do you believe she will win? Do you think she should step down? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#HelenZille #DA #Colonialism


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Let’s hope Trump is a con

Today was a huge day for the USA and the world. Donald Trump was elected president, against expectations and what polls told us. We were entertained, we were glued to our screens and our social media, we were amused at the absurdity of the whole situation, but we did not expect this to become real. But it did. We had our 9/11. Now the millenneals have their 11/9. All we can hope for is that Donald Trump is a con. That he galvanised feelings of bigotry and racism (in addition to feelings of disenchantment with Washington and the economic direction of the US) and said many horrible things, simply to get elected. Let us hope that now he will follow sensible policies and that his reign will not result in global uncertainty and a reversal of hard-won freedoms for those most vulnerable.

Trump’s acceptance speech was nothing like his utterances during the hard-fought election process. There was no talk of a wall between Mexico and the US; he said nothing about a ban on Muslims; he did not talk about defunding NATO, allowing more countries to get nuclear weapons, bombing ISIS families or starting a trade war with China; and he did not hint at prosecuting Hillary Clinton. Instead, he praised her for her efforts in the campaign and her meaningful contribution to US politics. This was a different Trump, a Trump that had achieved his goal (no matter the cost), a Trump looking for reconciliation, a magnanimous Trump even.

So maybe we will be lucky. Maybe most of the extreme things he said during his campaign were simply uttered so that he could ignite the heartland of America, the rustbelt, the South, the social conservatives, the evangelicals to support him. Maybe he did not really mean these things. Maybe it was all a con to achieve his ends, which was to occupy the White House. Not everything he said was predicated on hate of the foreign, distrust of the unknown and a yearning for a return to simpler times (at least for white people). Much of what he said was aimed at those middle class and working families that have seen their economic exclusion grow over the past 30 years. A grouping that have become exasperated and tired with the way that Washington operates. This is the same group of people that Bernie Sanders was targeting.

So if Donald Trump has just pulled off the greatest con in US political history, what are we to expect? Walls, bans, hate, trade wars, buffoonery and groping? I don’t think so. I see no wall being built and I see no ban on Muslims. Current immigration vetting is already very strong and I would not rule out an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

I would think that his presidency would have an internal focus with much less attention given to global diplomacy. He is unlikely to deviate from current US involvement in conflict areas such as Iraq and Syria, but would likely be pro reducing involvement over time. New hotspots will likely be left to sort themselves out – a new period of US isolationism.

A quick win in the US would be to commence a large (and much overdue) infrastructural spending programme, creating jobs and rewarding his base for their votes. This will likely lead to ballooning debt, but is a price that he may be willing to pay. Tax cuts will likely also be on the cards, but may be phased in over time, especially in the light of large infrastructural spend.

On the trade front, we may see a more protectionist attitude with the Trans-Pacific Partnership being the first victim. The biggest downside of such an approach would be rising inflation in the US, which could also usher in the end of quantitative easing and finally lead to a rise in US interest rates.

Interestingly, even though (Republican) Trump will have a Republican Senate and House to theoretically support his policies, it may not be that easy with many representatives not agreeing with his approach. We may find him having to build coalitions across the aisle to enact some of his plans.

On the positive side (for Republicans), the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is likely to commence shortly after his inauguration. However, it is not clear whether it will simply be rolled back or whether something else will be put in its place. Ironically, many of his (non-traditional Republican and even traditional Republican) supporters will probably favour some alternative rather than nothing at all.

On the negative side (for Republicans), Donald Trump may not be as conservative as Republicans would like in appointing Supreme Court judges. His progressive New York values (as Ted Cruz referred to) probably puts him on the side of at least maintaining the recently won (marriage equality) and entrenched (woman’s right to choose) freedoms. If I am correct (and he was conning his base), he may once again have to build a cross-aisle coalition to affirm his nominees.

If we are very lucky, he may even address inner city decay (as promised) and support reasonable gun laws. This may be overly ambitious, even if he conned the base, but we can hope. Global warming may be the biggest (and most serious) issue that is left unaddressed, regardless. On this topic, all we can do is to continue agitating.

If, however Donald Trump is not a con. If he meant what he said during his election campaign, the US and the world is in for a rough ride and the most vulnerable in the US and the world will suffer most. So, let’s hope that Trump is a con. Let’s hope that now that he has the position he sought, that sanity will prevail. Let’s hope that he does not do too much damage. And maybe, just maybe, he could do something good.

 

Are you exasperated after the US election? Are you scared of what a Trump presidency may mean? Do you think that maybe he was just conning (at least some of) his supporters to get the position and that his policies will be more reasonable than we expect? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

@realDonaldTrump #USElection #119 #NotMyPresident

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man

Photo by DonkeyHotey


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Manyi and Gasa almost made history

I got really excited yesterday. I was taking my tea break in the morning and decided to have a look at Twitter. Two of the people that I follow were at loggerheads. The one is Nomboniso Gasa, a researcher, writer and political analyst and the other is ex-Cabinet spokesman, Mzwanele (previously known as Jimmy) Manyi who also recently launched the Decolonization Foundation. These two, who are clearly not very happy with each other, were discussing a lifestyle audit. I immediately took a keen interest.

The previous day they had a heated discussion that involved many issues and accusations. Ms Gasa floated the idea of a lifestyle audit and Mr. Manyi accepted, albeit tacitly.

cvrxefjwgaajp141

Of course, a one-sided audit was never going to fly and Ms. Gasa posted the following Twitter chain, trying to thrash out the terms of a parallel audit.

gasacomment1_v4gasacomment2

Initially, Mr. Manyi took the bait, but with the proviso that other parties, less favourable (in his opinion) to Ms. Gasa be involved. He specifically mentioned Mr. Piet Rampedi.

At this point, I was jumping up and down in my seat. Imagine this, South Africans with differing viewpoints agreeing on the need for transparency and openness and offering themselves as sacrificial lambs to lead the way. Wow, I was envisioning this as the start of improving political discourse in SA, the start of talking to each other and not at each other, the placing of openness and honesty ahead of political difference.

I proceeded to fan the flames by posting the picture below, taking the by-line “Let the #GasaManyAudit begin!” from one of Ms. Gasa’s tweets.strydomcomment

Many people liked this idea (well 61 by today) and some people started tweeting under the #GasaManyiAudit hashtag. My excitement was growing.

Unfortunately, by yesterday afternoon, the audit was off. Mr. Manyi seems to have folded after calling Ms. Gasa’s bluff. The disappointment! These two people for whom I have much respect were about to create history and then … it was to be no more.

However, I retain hope and hence this blog. Maybe with enough pressure from social media, commentators and colleagues, this process can be resurrected. What is key though is that the right parties are found to produce this audit, parties that are seen as independent and are acceptable to both candidates. The parties should also really be willing to do this pro-bono. This lifestyle audit should be seen as more that settling a personal score between two people, but rather as a public service, moving our political discourse in a positive direction.

I therefore request the following, if you are interested in a parallel lifestyle audit between Mr. Manyi and Ms. Gasa:

  1. Tweet under the #GasaManyiAudit hastag to build awareness and pressure;
  2. Contact Mr. Manyi (@KrilaGP) and Ms. Gasa (@nombonisogasa) on Twitter or directly and ask them to proceed; and
  3. If you are a reputable and independent auditing firm, please offer your services on a pro bono basis to Mr. Manyi and Ms. Gasa directly.

Do you think that lifestyle audits of politicians, political commentators, business people and others would improve our political discourse and reduce the risk of corruption? If so, please throw your voices behind #GasaManyiAudit and let’s make history.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#GasaManyiAudit #LifestyleAudit @KrilaGP @nombonisogasa

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


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Investment boycott is perverse

Following the halting of lending to six state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by Futuregrowth, there has been increasing calls for an investment boycott or even a tax strike in SA. I believe such steps would be perverse, considering the fact that even during the worst days of Apartheid, no such steps were implemented by SA firms or taxpayers. An investment boycott or tax strike would be very damaging to the SA economy and risks fuelling the flames of division within our country even further.

The aim of an investment boycott or tax strike would be to force the government to take a number of steps supported by some opposition parties and some sections within big business. These steps would likely include the cessation of the actions against Pravin Gordhan, the halt of the nuclear project, increased oversight of SOEs, seriously addressing corruption and probably the resignation of President Jacob Zuma.

In my opinion, an investment boycott or tax strike would represent the nuclear option for SA, which would be very damaging to our economy and to our most vulnerable citizens. It could limit the government’s ability to deliver on its promises: including the National Development Plan; it could put pressure on infrastructural spend; and could even limit its ability to fund budget increases, which could put pressure on areas such as education, health, etc. In addition, it could damage the country’s reputation if it were to lead to a reduced ability by the country to finance its debt. If we are looking for a credit rating downgrade, an investment boycott or tax strike would go a long way to achieving it.

In addition to the damage that such actions could cause to our economy and reputation, it also is not guaranteed to succeed. Even overwhelming participation in such actions (which would be needed, but is unlikely, in my opinion), may lead to the opposite reaction from the ruling party than is desired. It is much more likely to unify the ANC and cause it to close ranks. If this were to occur, the pain experienced by our country would be extensive and long-term.

In addition to the economic and reputational damage that an investment boycott or tax strike could cause, it could also be very harmful to the social fabric and our desire for unity and equity. It would serve to flame the fires of the “white capital” narrative that is increasingly being bandied around in our country and is creating increasing divisiveness. And it would be correct to do so. The plain truth is that the same people and institutions who are calling for an investment boycott or a tax strike, were silent on these topics during Apartheid.

There is no doubt that international sanctions against the National Party played a meaningful role in leading to the demise of Apartheid. However, it was never supported by SA business or by SA opposition parties. Not even the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) who was the precursor to the DA supported these actions. No large SA corporates became involved in sanctions and none of them came even close to an investment boycott. This was despite significant human rights abuses and disenfranchisement perpetrated by the Nationalist government. There was also no real talk of a tax strike by South Africans.

We can see the lack of action by SA big business, opposition parties and white citizens in the 1980s and before as complicity. We can choose to believe that they were happy to live under Apartheid and for many, I am sure this is true. However, we must not under-estimate the impact that fear could have had on inaction. An investment boycott or tax strike by SA big business and white citizens would likely have led to a substantial crackdown by the NP government, which was too ghastly to contemplate by many. And here is the rub. We lived in a police state during the 1980s, under an almost constant state of emergency. We lived in a country that was not free, even for the beneficiaries of the system. That has changed.

Say what you will about recent actions by the ruling party, about corruption, about lack of accountability, about our President being seemingly untouchable, we still live in a free and democratic country. If you have any doubts about this, go and have a look at what newspapers write every single day about the government and the ANC, without fear or serious reprisal. Go and have a look at what people have to say on social media and how many of them are arrested for it. Gone are the days when you had to watch what you say, who you interact with, who you gather with, who you protest against. Gone are the late night knocks on your front door, the arrests, the detention without trial, the “suicides” of those in custody. If you are still not convinced, go and have a look at who governs Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay metros. If we were not substantially free in this country, if we did not have a vibrant democracy, this would never ever have happened.

In addition, go and have a look at what ANC loyalists and previous leaders have to say about the SARS wars, about Nkandla, about the constitutional court ruling and about electoral losses. The vast majority of South Africans and leaders on both sides of the aisle can see what is going wrong with our country and are adamant to make it better. The majority of people are on the right side of history and we will see positive changes in the near term. I am confident and optimistic.

However, if you want to divide people, if you want the racism card to be played more often, if you want the “white capital” narrative to grow, if you want to devastate the economy, if you want to hurt the most vulnerable and if you want to damage the country’s reputation, then you must support an investment boycott or a tax strike. I seriously hope that this is not what you want.

I therefore call on opposition parties to speak out against these voices looking to damage our country. Refer back to your and your predecessors’ arguments against sanctions in the 1980s. I call on big business to distance themselves from these moves. Remember what side of the argument you were on during Apartheid and consider what this could do to the economy. I call on ordinary South Africans to be patient. We are moving in the right direction and forces for change are gathering momentum. Trust that the hard-won democratic process allows for your voice to be heard.

Are you a supporter of an investment boycott or tax strike and why? Are you not concerned about the negative impact this could have on the economy and ordinary South Africans? Would this risk the hard-won unity that is developing in SA? Would it not add fuel to the “white capital” narrative and racism allegations? Should you not have the same approach as when you were against sanctions in the 1980s? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#InvestmentBoycott #TaxStrike #Futuregrowth #SARSWars #Sanctions

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man

Photo by twicepix


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It is time for parties to shift left

It is easy to see the results from the last week’s local government elections in SA as purely a rebuke of the ruling ANC. In addition, we should see it as a cry for help from the poor and disenfranchised, a cry for better services, more opportunities and jobs. It is a cry for a better deal in SA. All political parties should take heed of this message. They should realise that none of them will achieve meaningful growth in their support without aggressively addressing the concerns of the poor in SA, both in messaging and delivery. It is time for those parties serious about continued growth to shift left.

The ANC was the biggest loser in the local government elections, seeing countrywide support declining from 62% in 2011 to 54%. It has lost outright control in four major Metros, namely Tshwane, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekurhuleni. In addition it will lose many other municipalities to the opposition or will have to govern through coalitions.

The ANC should embark on a period of self reflection to understand why voters in the large Metros did not come out to support it in these elections. Now is not the time for in-fighting. It is time for a leadership overhaul and aggressive focus on improved governance in the Metros and municipalities they retain as well as provinces and nationally. There is nothing like political competition to focus the mind and it is my hope that the increased threat of losing further support will invigorate the ANC to improve delivery. Because it retains the strongest power base in SA, national government and 8 out of 9 provinces, it is best positioned to improve the outcomes for the poor and most vulnerable in SA. It is likely that the ANC will increase its pro-poor focus utilising its significant power. We can only hope that it achieves this at least in part by improving efficiency.

The DA was the biggest winner in the local government elections. It is likely to take control of three major Metros in the form of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay, while it has the outside chance to form a ruling coalition in Ekurhuleni and being part of an EFF-led coalition in Rustenburg.

It would be easy enough for the DA to fall into the trap of gloating and self congratulation after these elections, but that would be a mistake. The people in many Metros and municipalities have given the DA an opportunity, but not a blank cheque. The party now faces a huge responsibility to deliver on its promises. If the party’s track record in other municipalities is anything to go by, it should take a very technocratic approach to ruling new regions, including attracting more skills, identifying inefficiencies and aiming for clean audits.

It is hoped that the DA will be able to achieve cost savings. They key is how it will apply these cost savings and how it will deal with the existing deployment of resources. It is my view that all savings achieved should be employed to enhance the conditions and prospects of the poor and disenfranchised. Poor service delivery should be addressed with the utmost urgency, followed by developmental spending in the poorest of areas. Local infrastructural spend should be encouraged, with a focus on creating employment.

However, I would go even further than utilising savings to rebalance the budget towards the poor. There is an important case to be made for reducing spending on affluent areas in lieu of poor areas: 1) it is morally the right thing to do, considering the inequalities of the past; 2) rising unemployment, stubborn inequality and low economic growth is creating a ticking time bomb for SA that cannot be ignored; 3) the development of poor areas and creating opportunities for the disadvantaged is important not just for stability, but to encourage long-term growth; and 4) the only way for the DA to defend and grow its support is to deliver to the constituency that (at the margin) put it in power.

If the DA does not shift left and illustrate a clear pro-poor focus, its gains during the recent elections could easily be reversed. The next election could see a much higher turn-out in poor areas with these votes going to the ANC or the EFF. To cement its gains, this constituency has to see the benefits of DA rule.

The EFF garnered less support in the recent elections than many analysts, including myself, expected. It received 8% of the national vote and did not obtain an outright majority in any municipality. However, it has created a very strong base from which to grow, it is in a position to determine who will rule in major Metros and it has the opportunity to be involved in the governing process, promoting its own policies.

The EFF is already a left-leaning party with a pro-poor focus. Its challenge now is to turn its policies into concrete delivery in the municipalities where it is part of the coalition. It has to choose its partners wisely and it has to be realistic in its demands. It has not garnered enough support to drive revolutionary changes in the way budgets are allocated, but it is in a strong position to ensure that a strong and sustained shift left starts occurring where it is involved.

In my opinion, the EFF can have a bigger impact in coalitions with the DA than with the ANC. In such coalitions, the EFF would be a clear and unambiguous voice for the poor and if successes are achieved, it may see its support growing over time. In coalitions with the ANC, it may face a number of problems: 1) the elimination of inefficiencies and delivery may not be as strong (if ANC track record is anything to go by); 2) it would not stand out as clearly as a pro-poor left-leaning voice of the poor as in a DA coalition; and 3) it faces more risk of being co-opted by the ANC and that some of its support is reabsorbed by the ANC.

SA is facing numerous challenges, including rampant unemployment, stubborn inequality, low economic growth, poor education outcomes and inefficiency (including corruption). The ANC, especially under its current leadership has not effectively addressed these concerns and it has lost support as a result. The uncertainty caused by lack of delivery has led to the rise of opposition parties, but it has occurred in a very negative political environment and a bruising election campaign. It is my hope that the era of coalition politics in SA will offer the opportunity for more constructive engagement between political parties. It is time to unite and address our challenges or face a populist uprising over time.

I continue to promote a New Deal in SA, with an aggressive focus on unemployment and education. Even if it leads to economic pain in the short-term, we should make a definitive decision to refocus our budget on these areas. We absolutely have to create an inclusive economy and improved education outcomes so that we can look back a decade from now at today being the turning point in the SA story.

In addition, I stand by my view that we need a Minister of Employment who has the necessary power and the ultimate responsibility for increasing employment. This minister must stand or fall based on progress here, this is where the buck should stop. In our current cabinet as well as in a DA shadow cabinet, the responsibility for dealing with unemployment is decentralised. This has not worked and is unlikely to work in the future. The role must be centralised, we need a champion and we need delivery.

 

How do you feel following the local government elections? Are you encouraged or disappointed? How do you feel about political competition and the rise of coalition politics? Do you believe that we should and will have an increased pro-poor agenda going forward? Do you think that our parties will shift left after the election? I would love to hear your feedback.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

#LGE2016 #NewDeal #MinisterOfEmployment #TshwaneCoalition #JHBCoalition

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


  • 2

Brexit could be reversed

On 23 June, UK voters decided to leave the European Union (EU) in the much touted Brexit referendum. The fall-out was immediate and severe, both politically and economically. Buyers’ remorse prevails with UK voters having the worst electoral hangover in recent history. Unlike most elections, there are very few people who are celebrating and an increasing number who are ruing their decision. The question now is, whether there is any way to reverse this increasingly unpopular decision? I believe so. The actual exit from the EU will only commence once the UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of 2009. If there is sufficient public pressure, enough political will and a clear mandate for the UK to stay in the EU, this may never happen. It may be embarrassing for the UK and its leaders, but it may well be the best thing for its citizens (especially the young), the EU and the wider World.

Following the Brexit vote, the British Pound declined by over 10% to the dollar and hit a 30-year low over the past week. By last Tuesday, global equity markets had lost more than $3 trillion following the vote (although there has been some recovery since). On the morning of the vote result, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced his resignation and the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has been under immense pressure from within his own ranks. He will likely not survive.

It is no wonder that the fall-out was so extreme. Britain’s proposed departure from the EU has created huge uncertainty and is expected to be very negative for the economy. In addition, there are concerns over what this means for the stability of the EU (already parties in other countries have called for similar votes), what this means for the stability of the UK (Scotland is asking for another referendum on independence and in Northern Ireland there are talks of uniting with Ireland) and what this means for relations with foreigners in the UK (with a number of reported racist incidents following the vote).

Support for the Leave camp of Brexit emanated across different UK political parties and regions. The main party that wholeheartedly supported it was UKIP under Nigel Farage. The Conservative Party was split with the Prime Minister, David Cameron supporting the Remain side whilst Boris Johnson (previous mayor of London) supported the Leave campaign. The Labour Party purportedly supported the Remain side, but many believe that its leader, Jeremy Corbyn was ambivalent and did not provide strong enough support for this side. As a result, many labour MPs and supporters voted Leave. Three areas that overwhelmingly supported Remain were Northern Ireland, Scotland and the City of London. Another grouping that supported Remain were the young people in the country with polls showing that only 19% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 supported a Brexit.

A strong theme that has emerged post the results is that the Leave vote for many people (and even supporters) was a protest vote and not necessarily the outcome that they desired. An online petition to rerun the Brexit referendum has already attracted more than 4 million signatures. The question now is whether there is any way for these protest voters who now regret their decision to be given another opportunity to vote? I believe that this is possible.

As it stands, no political leader is willing to contemplate another referendum. David Cameron has said that another vote is “not remotely on the cards” and Boris Johnson has said that there will be no general election if he wins the Conservative Party Leadership. However, at the same time, Cameron is not willing to invoke Article 50 yet, which is a prerequisite for negotiations towards an exit to commence.

Many UK leaders may be hoping for informal negotiations with the EU to commence to provide more clarity prior to invoking Article 50. The EU, however, are adamant that no discussions will occur until Article 50 is invoked. They are playing hardball and are unwilling to make this process any easier for the UK. They want immediate action so that they can move forward without uncertainty overhanging the future of the EU. This line from EU leaders could put additional pressure on UK politicians during a period of uncertainty.

Within the next three months, we will see a new leader of the Conservative Party and likely a new leader of the official opposition, the Labour Party. It is highly likely that these developments will put increasing pressure on leaders to hold a general election so that a fresh mandate can be obtained from the electorate. Even if Boris Johnson wins the Conservative Party race, he may not be able to stop the increasing pressure for a general election. If Theresa May (the other main candidate) wins, a general election would be very likely, in my opinion. She was a strong supporter of the Remain campaign.

If a general election is called, there is little doubt that the campaigns would focus aggressively on the UK in the EU question. The elections may turn into another Brexit referendum by proxy. If I am correct and the recent uncertainty and remorse from Leave voters shifts support convincingly to the Remain camp, the winners of the general election may well have a fresh mandate to not invoke Article 50.

This would inevitably lead to another Brexit referendum, which the Remain side would likely win. Article 50 would then never be invoked and the UK would remain in the EU. Although this would be embarrassing for UK leaders, it would be good for their citizens, the EU and the wider World. It may also lead to further negotiations that could improve the way that the EU functions and how the UK operates within it. The post-Brexit hangover can then finally subside.

I was a strong supporter of the Remain side. I believe that the EU is a very important institution to help drive a peaceful future in Europe and the World; that a weakening of the EU would be negative for race relations and the immigrant question; that the EU is positive for the global economy and markets; and that the EU is an important force for good when it comes to the sharing of progressive ideas. I recognise that there are shortcomings, but I believe it is better to address them as a unit than for countries to go their separate ways. As a result, I would be overjoyed if the UK reverses its Brexit decision. Fingers crossed.

 

Were you shocked by the Brexit decision? Were you surprised by the pressure it put on currencies and the markets? Do you think it is a good idea and why? Do you think there is a chance that it could be reversed? Would that make you happy or angry? I would love to see your opinion.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

 

#Brexit #UK #EU

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


  • 3

Why are you willing to work for free?

If you have recently been recruited by a multi level marketing (MLM) company to sell beauty products, funeral policies or something else, you are likely in a worse financial position than you were before. You may have had to pay some joining fee or bought some product. In addition, you are not making any income yet right? Unless you are very good at recruiting more people and only if you put in many hours of work, will you see the money coming in. The question is why are you willing to work for free?

At the outset let me say this, MLM companies are legal and are not pyramid schemes in the traditional sense. However, they do depend for their existence on aggressive growth in membership and those that have entered last do the bulk of the selling while those that came in before you make all the money. The bottom layer of a MLM company typically works for free. They spend hours attending meetings where most of the time is not spent talking about the product, but rather about how to recruit more people and about how rich they can get. They commit large amounts of their time contacting their friends, family and community to try and get them involved. If they are good enough, they start setting up their own meetings, taking even more of their time. Eventually, they may start making money. Many never do. They work for free.

The key difference between a traditional pyramid (or Ponzi) scheme and an MLM company is that with the former, the entire value chain is run on a pyramid basis. This means that the entire contribution of new members is used to fund the proceeds of previous members. When the pyramid breaks down, the last entrants lose everything. These schemes are also set up with very high returns, so they require very fast growth in membership to be sustained and therefore run out of road very quickly. They are bad news (see my recent piece).

In the case of MLM companies (like Amway, Avon, etc.) even the last entrants to the scheme will receive a product, although the product will be worth less than what they spend to purchase it. A product will be chosen and say it costs 50c to manufacture and 100c to buy. The amount that is used in the MLM portion is the 50c. Traditional companies will spend huge amounts on advertising and marketing (thereby utilising the 50c) and the final consumer, no matter who they are will be treated similarly – they walk into a shop and pay 100c for a product that took 50c to produce. Think of soft drinks that are really only sugar water, but you are willing to pay for. The stronger the brand, the more you will be willing to pay. The more the advertising spend, sponsorships, etc., the stronger the brand and the higher the price point. Key though is that all consumers are treated similarly.

An MLM company will spend the 50c difference between price and cost to pay its consumers to market and distribute the product. The key difference here is that depending on where you fall in the multi-level hierarchy, you will either pay much less for the ultimate product or make money out of selling the product. Because of the promise of great wealth if you are able to recruit levels below you to market the product, consumers are willing in essence to work for free to distribute the product in the hopes that eventually they will move up the list where the product becomes cheaper or eventually they make money. The reality is that the vast majority of people selling these products (attending meetings, speaking to their friends and family, setting up meetings etc.) will be doing this for free. They are committing their time to the people above them in the hierarchy and to the ultimate company manufacturing the product without any remuneration. There is only the promise of future remuneration, which the vast majority will never see.

In the case of a typical funeral insurance product for instance, the final claims ratio (claims to premium paid) is maybe 40% – 50% (sometimes lower). The rest of the money is spent to cover administration costs, marketing costs and commissions. The broker or agent that does all the hard work of contacting leads, phoning clients, walking the streets and having face-to-face meetings with clients, receives the commission. They are remunerated for the work that they do. The people doing the work are the people getting paid.

Insurance MLM companies use a different mechanism to reward the people that distribute the product. The people higher up the distribution hierarchy get the bulk of the money (what would be marketing and commission in other companies) whilst doing much less actual selling than a normal broker or agent would do. The people that are doing most of the work are lower down the food chain and the bulk of them are working for free (or at least receiving way less than they would receive if they were a broker or agent selling insurance). The only reason they are willing to work for free (or for peanuts) is because of the promise of one day being higher up the hierarchy and having other people below them working for free (or peanuts) to sell the product (while they make the money).

The same is true of a company that distributes beauty or other products on this basis. If you are a representative (rep) of a traditional company selling a product, you will either receive a fixed salary or, more typically, a commission based on your sales. You are therefore paid for the work you put in (and the sales you generate). In an MLM company, most of the commission for selling products is paid to those higher up the hierarchy (those that were recruited before you) who do less of the work, while those recruited last, who do much of the selling, are working for free or for very little.

There is also the additional argument that there could be leakage in a MLM company because so much time and effort is spent on discussing the potential riches to be earned and how to earn those riches rather than spending that time to talk about the product and the brand. Theoretically, MLM products should therefore be more expensive than normally distributed product. However, because people are willing to work for free, the ultimate value for money for the final consumer (who does not get involved in the hype, but simply buys the product) is therefore often comparable to buying the product in the normal way. As a result, MLM companies can be sustained for decades (or indefinitely) without the system breaking down. As long as people are willing to work for free in exchange for the promise of wealth, the model continues.

MLM companies are not illegal and they may not even be considered unethical by many. However, they do depend on people who may not really understand the process, who over-estimate their ability to recruit others, or are desperate. These people (knowingly or not) are willing to commit large amounts of their time, time which could be spent more productively to build an alternative career (or to improve themselves through study). These people are willing to work for free. There is one way in which MLM companies are similar to pyramid schemes: they both are dependent on other people, people who enter after you, sacrificing their money or time so that you can make money or even get rich.

Are you involved with an MLM company, selling beauty products, funeral insurance or other products? Do you realise that you are working for free and may be one of the majority who will always work for free (or peanuts)? Do you realise that you will only make money or get rich from an MLM company if there are others (recruited after you) who are willing to work for free (or for peanuts)? Does this concern you or don’t you care? I would love to see your opinion.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

 

#MLMCompanies #PyramidSchemes

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


  • 1

Don’t lose your money in one of these schemes

If you are invested in a scheme that offers you a 30% return per month (or are thinking about it), you are in dangerous waters. You run the risk of losing all of your money. If you are one of the lucky ones, you may be getting your returns from the poor souls that invest after you. When it comes to such a pyramid scheme, someone is going to lose. Do you want to be one of them? Do you want to make money because someone else is losing?

People in SA are feeling the pinch of tough economic conditions due to rising prices, rising interest rates, higher unemployment and drought. They are getting desperate and will do what it takes to make ends meet. Their options are usually limited. If they have savings in traditional bank accounts, they can expect maybe 6% growth per year, which is not enough to make up for rising prices. They can borrow from micro lenders, but the interest rates are high (around 30% per year) and it is becoming more and more difficult to gain approval (because people are already very indebted). They can join stokvels, but that only helps if their payout is early in the year and even then, they are still not getting out more than they put in over a year. So what must they do?

An option that more and more people are taking is to invest in schemes that offer huge returns. One of these schemes offers the possibility of earning a 30% return every month. That means that you can double your money every three months. Wow. It sounds too good to be true. That is because it is too good to be true. It is impossible for any organisation to provide their investors with a 30% monthly return on a sustainable basis. Not unlikely. Impossible. What you are looking at is a typical pyramid scheme.

It is true that sometimes assets can appreciate greatly in value over a short period. This happens when you invest in something that is extremely under-priced (because people don’t know enough about it at the time) or when you invest in something before very positive news about it emerges (profits rise significantly or they literally strike gold or oil unexpectedly). The thing is that good news spreads fast. Once the news is out there and once people find out about it, the price goes up significantly, but after that the pace of increase slows down. For something to go up significantly month after month, year after year, continued fresh good news has to emerge. This is very unlikely, because people love a great story and will look extremely closely at a fast-rising asset, which makes it increasingly difficult for good news to remain hidden. What is more likely to happen is that the hype around such an asset will cause it to rise too fast. It will become more expensive than what the underlying news implies and a bubble is created. More often than not, the news can’t keep up with the price, the bubble bursts, the price collapses and people lose their money.

That is if you’re investing in an asset. But what if there is no underlying asset? What if the scheme you are investing in relies on you transferring money directly to people that joined before you and the money that you hope to get out will come from people that join after you? Such a scheme is just like a stokvel, but a stokvel without a bank account (that at least earns an interest rate). Imagine you join a stokvel in January and put in R1000. What would have to happen for you to get out R23000 in December (which is what you would get if you earned 30% per month)? Well, either the stokvel must win the lottery or the number of members in the stokvel must increase 20 times and every R1000 put in by those 20 people must come to you. Of course these 20 people will also expect to get 30% per month, so at the end of year 2, the stokvel needs to find R500000 to pay these people. Where will this money come from? Eventually people are going to lose their money and for every one person that wins, there has to be 20 losers!

Schemes such as this can’t be sustained without rapid growth in membership. They depend on people going out and recruiting more people. Those that have put in money tell their friends and family and encourage them to invest. They post testimonials online, sharing their success stories. They organise large community meetings all over, sharing their stories of quick riches and encouraging more people to join. The hype continues to increase and the pyramid scheme continues to grow.

The problem is that because you need to grow membership by at least 20 times per year, you are going to run out of people at some point and once that happens, at least 20 out of 21 people are going to lose their money. Let me explain the difficulty. If a scheme starts with one investor in year 1, by year 7, you will need 64 million people to keep the scheme going. The next year, you will need 1.3 billion people (almost 20% of the world population). By year 9 you will need 26 billion people. Do you see the problem?

So why do people invest in these pyramid schemes? They do so because they are desperate, uninformed or greedy. It doesn’t matter what your motivation is, the outcome is not going to be good. You will most likely be one of the unlucky ones, the 20 out of 21 people who will lose their money. If you are very lucky, if you get in early enough, if you make your returns and if you take your money out soon enough, you will only achieve this because you are hurting other people. Your actions will mean that many people who invest after you will lose their money. It may not be next month, it may not be next year, but it will happen eventually. How would you feel about that? How would you feel if you get rich because of many other poor and vulnerable people losing their money? Will you claim ignorance? Will you say, “it’s not my fault”, “the company lied to me”, “I didn’t know”? If you read this piece or others like it, please know that you have been warned.

I have seen schemes promoting themselves and people on social media defending these schemes, choosing to vilify the banks, to discourage people to use normal banks and to encourage them to invest in schemes instead. Comments include: “Why do the people bring their money to the banks at the exorbitant interests? Because they have no other choice. Banks are monopolists”; “Why should banks worry if citizens choose to be ripped off? Banks the thieves”; “Today’s banks are faithful servants of the Federal Reserve; they are greedy and avid bloodsuckers, small ghouls in the service of a giant and evil monster, modern earl Dracula”; and “free yourself from financial slavery”.

Whether or not banks are offering you a good deal is a different debate. I have written about this before. There is certainly more that can and should be done by banks to help the most vulnerable in society. However, please do not allow yourself to be sucked into a dangerous and unsustainable pyramid scheme that is likely to cost you dearly or cause you to hurt others, simply because you are unhappy with ordinary banks. Please remember, if something looks to good to be true, it probably is.

 

Are you invested with a high-return scheme or are you thinking about it? Where do you think these high returns are coming from? Does it make sense to you? If it doesn’t make sense to you, do you care? Are you aware that you could lose your money? Did you know that if you make money, it is likely because other people are going to lose their money and be hurt? Would you still invest if you knew you were going to hurt others? I would love to see your opinion.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

 

#PyramidScheme #PonziScheme #Stokvel

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


  • 3

Los Afrikaans uit!

Category : Afrikaans , Education , Racism

Afrikaans is onder druk in ons skole en universiteite met baie groepe wat aandring dat dit afgeskaf word as primêre onderrigmedium of dat Engels as ‘n parallel medium ingebring word. Hierdie stuk is nie gerig op daardie mense nie. Verrassing! Dit is gerig op die mense en groepe wat probeer om Afrikaans te gebruik as ‘n wapen om wit voorreg te beskerm. Julle doen meer skade as goed aan my taal, Afrikaans. Julle probeer julle bes om die verwantskap van Afrikaans met rassisme en wit voorreg te promoveer. Julle praat nie vir my nie. Los Afrikaans uit!

As jy mooi luister na die partye wat kla oor die gebruik van Afrikaans by universiteite of die wat Afrikaanse skole wil open vir onderbevoorregde kinders, dan sal jy besef dat die taal nie hulle hoof kwessie is nie. Waaroor hulle regtig praat is wit voorreg, hulle tekort aan toegang en hulle strewe na iets beter vir hulself. Afrikaans word gebruik as ‘n gerieflike swartskaap, grootliks weens die assosiasie met die ongelykhede van die verlede, die ongelykhede wat nog met ons is en omdat baie Afrikaans ondersteuners in die algemeen ook ondersteuners van wit voorreg is en gereëld rassisties is. Dit is waar hierdie mense verkeerd gaan en waar baie Afrikaans ondersteuners die vlamme aanblaas.

Dit was nie altyd so nie en daar is geen rede hoekom dit so hoef te bly in die toekoms nie. Toe die ANC die mag oorgeneem het in 1994, het hulle verreikende stappe ondersteun om die regte van Afrikaans te beskerm en om die taal aktief te koester in die Nuwe SA. Die reg tot moedertaal (insluitend Afrikaans) onderrig is gewaarborg as ‘n mensereg in ons Grondwet (waar dit prakties moontlik is). Toe President Nelson Mandela in 1994 die eerste demokratiese parlement in SA geopen het, was dit Ingrid Jonker se gedig, Die Kind, wat hy aangehaal het. Hy het op ‘n gereëlde basis sy liefde vir Afrikaans gedeel en uitgereik na Afrikaners (dink net aan die 1995 Wêreldbeker).

In 2009 het die Konstitusionele Hof (Adjunk Hoofregter Dikgang Moseneke) genoem dat wanneer ‘n leerder alreeds die voordele geniet van ondderrig in ‘n offisiële taal van hul keuse by ‘n spesifieke skool, dat die staat die verantwoordelikheid dra om nie hierdie reg te verminder of weg te neem sonder toepaslike regverdiging nie.

So onlangs as 2015 het President Zuma gesê dat “Afrikaans is as African as the rest of the country’s official languages.” Hy het genoem dat kritiek van transformasie nie gerig moet word na die Afrikaans taal nie, maar liewer na hoe dit by instellings gebruik word. Selfs Julius Malema het in 2015 gesê dat Afrikaans gepraat en beskerm behoort te word, maar nie afgedwing moet word op mense nie. Hy het egter ook gesê dat Afrikaans “should be put in its place”.

Afrikaans per se is dus nie die probleem nie, maar die probleem is liewer die assosiasie wat met die taal gemaak word wat uiteindelik kan manifesteer in aktiewe teenkanting daarteen. Dit is waaroor ek bekommerd is. Ek is bekommerd dat die stemme van openlike of geheime rassiste met versteekde agendas wat luidkeels die taal verdedig, die stemme van progressiewe en patriotiese mense wat Afrikaans praat en wil beskerm sonder om ander te benadeel, sal oordonder. Mense wat besef dat die enigste toekoms vir SA een van transformasie, meer gelykheid en eenheid is. Mense wat na oplossings soek vir die probleme in ons land. Mense wat bereid is om opofferings te maak om te waarborg dat daar ‘n lang en voorspoedige toekoms vir hulle en die res van die gemeenskap in ons pragtige land is. Mense soos ek.

So laat ek die volgende vra van die luidrugtige verdedigers van Afrikaans, doen een van die volgende; 1) erken dat julle aggressiewe verdediging van Afrikaans ‘n rookskerm is vir jul begeerte om julle manier van leef te beskerm, om die mense te kies met wie julle en jul kinders assosieer, om integrasie te vermy en om te leef in ‘n land wat lank nie meer bestaan nie; of 2) begin om aggressief te help met die transformasie van ons gemeenskap, om onderbevoorregdes te bemagtig en terselfdertyd Afrikaans te beskerm.

Dit is julle reg om die eerste opsie te kies. Dit is julle reg om bevooroordeeld te wees. Dit is julle reg om bang te wees vir mense wat anders as julle is. Dit is julle reg om te vrees vir die toekoms van SA. Dit is julle reg om te beskerm wat julle s’n is. Dit is julle reg om krities van die regering te wees, ongeag hoe hul presteer. Dit is julle reg om rassisties te wees. Moet net nie my taal betrek nie, die eerste taal van 13.5% van Suid Afrikaners (meeste nie Afrikaners nie) en een van die tale in SA wat deur die meeste mense verstaan word (by verre die meerderheid nie-wit). Dit is nie net julle s’n nie. Los Afrikaans uit!

As julle die tweede opsie kies, is daar so veel wat gedoen kan word. Omdat daar so ‘n groot poel Afrikaans sprekers is en mense wat Afrikaans as eerste taal praat; en omdat so baie van hierdie mense minder bevoorregd is, kom ons reik uit na hulle. Kom ons bring hulle na Afrikaanse skole toe sodat hulle kan voordeel trek uit die voorregde wat Afrikaanse kinders geniet. Ek daag Afrikaans-gebaseerde institusies soos Afriforum, Solidariteit en die ATKV; universiteite wat Afrikaans as medium aanbied insluitend Stellenbosch Universiteit, Pretoria Universiteit en Vrystaat Universiteit; asook Afrikaanse politici, besigheids leiers en media persoonlikhede om te begin met ‘n aggressiewe fondsinsameling projek om ‘n ongekende groot borgskap fonds te skep wat minder bevoorregde leerders na Afrikaanse skole toe lok. Gee hierdie arm “township” kinders gratis skool, gratis vervoer, gratis uniforms en gratis studie materiale. Gee hulle die geleëntheid om onderrig te word in die pragtige Afrikaans taal, as hulle dit verkies.

Kom ons stop die afname in die aantal Afrikaanse leerders in SA, terwyl ons Afrikaanse skole transformeer na die diverse entiteite (uit ‘n ras en kulturele oogpunt) wat ons nodig het om ons land te bou die toekoms in. Koms ons skep ‘n sterk pyplyn van diverse Afrikaanse leerders wat wil aanhou met hul universities studies in Afrikaans. Kom ons verander die gesprek van een waar wit Afrikaners wil vasklou aan hulle voorreg na ‘n gesprek waar Afrikaans help om mense te verenig, waar Afrikaans geleënthede bied aan almal, onafhanklik van etnisiteit of agtergrond.

As ons hierdie benadering in die vroeë 1990s gevolg het toe die skrif reeds op die muur was; as Afrikaanse unversiteite hul arms oopgegooi het vir elke liewe Afrikaanse spreker, onafhanlik van ras of geloof; as Afrikaanse gemeenskappe groot bedrae geld geskenk het om Afrikaans te ontwikkel in agtergeblewe gemeenskappe, dan sou ons nie vandag hierdie gesprek gehad het nie. Afrikaans sou vandag geskei gewees het van sy rassistiese verlede. Ons land sou baie meer verenigd gewees het. Ons sou ‘n veel meer rooskleurige toekoms gehad het.

Dit is egter nie te laat nie. Dit is tyd vir alle Afrikaners om die nuwe SA te omhels. Dit is tyd vir hulle om te deel wat wonderlik is oor hul kultuur. Dit is tyd om vriende te maak. Dit is tyd om te verenig. En ja, dit is tyd om opofferings te maak. Jy is of deel van die probleem of deel van die oplossing, maar moet asseblief nie ‘n taal wat jy nie besit nie deel van die vergelyking maak nie. As jy verkies om ‘n buitestander te bly, moet asseblief nie die res van ons probeer betrek nie. Los Afrikaans uit!

Dink jy dat Afrikaans as ‘n pion gebruik word deur beide rassistiese Afrikaners en teenstanders van Afrikaans? Is jy moeg daarvoor dat Afrikaans gedurig by die debat betrek word? Sou jy die skeiding wil sien van Afrikaans met sy rassistiese verlede? Sou jy bydra tot ‘n massiewe fondsinsameling proses met die mikpunt om Afrikaans meer inklusief te maak as dit sou lei tot die volgehoue beskerming en groei van die taal? Of is jy bitter, ontnugterd, nie bereid om te kompromitteer nie? Ek sal baie graag jou opinie wil sien.

 

#Afrikaans #WitVoorreg

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


  • 7

Leave Afrikaans alone!

Category : Afrikaans , Education , Racism

Afrikaans is under pressure in our schools and universities with many parties calling for its scrapping as a primary medium of instruction or wanting to incorporate English as a parallel medium. This piece is not aimed at these people. Surprise! It is aimed at the people and groupings who are trying to use Afrikaans as a weapon to defend and maintain white privilege. You are doing more damage than good to my language, Afrikaans. You are trying your utmost to maintain or promote the association of Afrikaans with racism and white privilege. You do not speak for me. Leave Afrikaans alone!

If you listen closely to the parties complaining about the use of Afrikaans at Universities or those who want Afrikaans schools to be opened to less privileged children, you will realise that the language itself is not their main concern. Their concern is with white privilege, their lack of access and their desire to get a better deal. Afrikaans is used as a convenient scapegoat, largely because of its association with the inequalities of the past, the inequalities that remain and the perception that many Afrikaans supporters in general are also supporters of white privilege and often are racist. This is where people are going wrong and where many Afrikaans advocates are fuelling the flames of the fire.

It has not always been this way and there is no reason why it has to be this way going forward. When the ANC took power in 1994, they went to great pains to acknowledge the importance of Afrikaans and to take steps to protect the rights of the language and to actively nurture it in the New SA. The right to mother tongue (including Afrikaans) education is guaranteed as a human right by our Constitution (where it is reasonably practical). When President Nelson Mandela opened the first democratic parliament in 1994, he quoted Ingrid Jonker’s poem Die Kind, expressed his love for Afrikaans numerous times and reached out to Afrikaans speakers (not least in his support for the Springboks in the 1995 World Cup).

In 2009, the Constitutional Court (Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke) noted that when a learner already enjoys the benefit of being taught in an official language of choice at a particular school the state would bear the duty not to take away or diminish the right “without appropriate justification”.

As recently as 2015, President Jacob Zuma stated that “Afrikaans is as African as the rest of the country’s official languages.” He said that transformation criticism should not be targeted at the Afrikaans language, but rather how it’s used in institutions. Even Julius Malema said in 2015 that Afrikaans should be spoken and protected, but not imposed on people, although he also mentioned that Afrikaans “should be put in its place”.

Afrikaans per se is therefore not the problem, it is the association made with the language that is becoming a problem and can eventually manifest itself in active objection to the language. This is what I fear. I fear that the voices of those open or closeted racists with hidden agendas who vociferously defend the language will drown out the voices of progressive and patriotic Afrikaans speakers who want their language protected, but not at the expense of others. People who realise that the only future for SA is one of transformation, reduced inequality and unity. People who are looking for solutions to the challenges that face our country. People who are willing to sacrifice in order to guarantee a long and prosperous future for themselves and the rest of society in this beautiful country. People like me.

So let me ask the following of Afrikaans advocates, do either of the following: 1) admit that your aggressive defence of Afrikaans is a smokescreen for your desire to protect your way of life, to choose the people you or your kids associate with, to avoid integration and to live in a country that is long gone; or 2) throw your weight behind transforming our society, lifting up the disadvantaged and at the same time protecting Afrikaans.

It is your right to choose the former. It is your right to be prejudiced. It is your right to be scared of people who are different to you. It is your right to fear for the future of SA. It is your right to protect what is yours. It is your right to be critical of government, regardless of their performance. It is your right to be racist. Please, just be honest about it. Do not drag my language, the first language of 13.5% of South Africans (most not Afrikaners) and one of the most widely understood languages in SA (the vast majority non-whites) into this. It is not just yours. Leave Afrikaans alone!

If you choose the latter, there is so much you can do. Because there is such a huge pool of Afrikaans speakers and people that have Afrikaans as a first language; and because there are so many of these people that are previously disadvantaged, let us reach out to them. Let us bring them into Afrikaans schools to benefit from the privilege that Afrikaans children experience. I challenge Afrikaans-based institutions such as Afriforum, Solidariteit and the ATKV; universities with Afrikaans as a medium, including the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State; as well as Afrikaans politicians, business leaders and media personalities to start an aggressive fund raising exercise to provide an unprecedented bursary fund to attract previously disadvantaged learners to Afrikaans schools. Give these poor township kids free schooling, free transport, free uniforms and free learning materials. Give them the opportunity to be educated in the beautiful language of Afrikaans, but only if they choose to.

Let us stop the decline in the number of Afrikaans learners in SA, whilst transforming our Afrikaans schools into the racially and culturally diverse entities we need to build our country going forward. Let us build a strong pipeline of diverse Afrikaans learners that want to continue their university studies in Afrikaans. Let us change the narrative from white Afrikaners wanting to hang on to their privilege to Afrikaans being a unifier that offers opportunities and diversity to anyone, regardless of ethnicity or background.

If we took this approach in the early 1990s when the writing was on the wall; if Afrikaans universities at that stage opened their arms widely to every single Afrikaans speaker, regardless of race or creed; if the Afrikaans community donated large amounts of money to develop Afrikaans in disadvantaged communities, we would not be having this discussion now. Afrikaans would be divorced from its racist past. Our country would be much more united. We would be facing a brighter future.

It is not too late. It is time for all Afrikaners to embrace the new SA. It is time for them to share what is great about their culture. It is time to make friends. It is time to unify. And yes, it is time to sacrifice. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution, but please do not bring a language that you do not own into the equation. If you choose to remain an outsider, please do not drag the rest of us into it. Leave Afrikaans alone!

Do you think that Afrikaans is being used as a pawn by racist Afrikaners and objectors alike? Are you tired of Afrikaans being drawn into the debate? Would you like to see Afrikaans divorced from its racist past? Would you contribute to a mass fund-raising exercise to make Afrikaans more inclusive if it will lead to the continued vibrancy and protection of the language? Or are you bitter, disenchanted, unwilling to compromise? I would love to see your opinion.

In the mean time, keep your talking straight!

 

#Afrikaans #WhitePrivilege

 

Marius Strydom is the CEO of MLAX Consulting

https://www.facebook.com/straighttalkingstrydom

https://twitter.com/Marius_Man


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