In August this year, following one of the Democratic Alliance’s no motion of confidence in the President, I asked in an open letter whether he would not think of giving free education to the poor at higher education….if for nothing else, his legacy.
Today he obliged…. Not as a direct response from my column obviously. This is what I wrote then:
Dear Mr President
After today’s no confidence vote in you, which the Speaker of Parliament Comrade Baleka Mbete has ruled should be held in secret, your enemies will emerge with sharpened knives, ready for the kill. The older generation with whom you fought have lost their punches and zeal to fight for the freedom of Black people, socially and economically that is. Some of you were co-opted into the economic system of the oppressor long before the ANC even came into power – convincing those of you who now stand on public platforms and have become gatekeepers of the truth on behalf of the enemy would be futile.
We’ve read extensively of how some of you began negotiating with the enemy while the enemy was looting behind your backs. While the oppressor flew former President Nelson Mandela around in their private jets and accommodated him in their palatial mansions, they were fleecing the country of trillions. It was perhaps around 1991 when among other significant political developments such as the release of Mandela the year before, that the ANC surrendered to corporate power. The appointment of Gencor Executive Chairman Derek Keys as Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 1991 and a year later as finance minister was probably the beginning of handing over power to corporations.
But the most deceitful moment was the decision to take an IMF loan with strings attached which precluded radical economic transformation. The Transitional Executive Committee (TEC) comprising of the ANC and the National Party, as you know Mr President, signed an $850 million IMF loan in 1993 with conditions which included cuts in state spending, the privatisation of SOEs, large cuts in public sector wages, and the commitment to abandoning nationalisation. The ANC took out this loan to service the apartheid debt which was used to buy arms in its battle against Black people and to prop-up a system that oppressed them. In 1951-67 for example, the World Bank lent the apartheid regime more than $200m, half of which went to support electricity generation when the sprawling townships were denied electricity. In effect, the ANC paid for apartheid loans which were meant to destroy the Black populace. The IMF and World Bank continued to supply loans to apartheid South Africa despite calls for anti-apartheid financial sanctions.
Since the $850m loan there have been more millions poured into the country as loans from the World Bank and with it, the ditching of the more progressive aspects of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). The Bank has had many representatives advising post-apartheid SA on policy which has been more “market orientated” and anti-poor.
Since then, we have literally outsourced everything including food and education to the banks. Just three weeks ago here at UnCensored we showed how the banking cartel controls our food. Three men – Johann Rupert, Christo Wiese and Jannie Mouton control our food. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/south-africas-banking-cartel-control-food/
We’ve done the same to education. We’ve commodified education, with good private education being made accessible to the few rich and those with access to credit while denying the majority – poor and working class – of education.
The latest Statistics SA report put unemployment at 27.7% with the highest being among the youth. StatsSA said young people aged 15-24 remained vulnerable in the labour market with an unemployment rate of almost 56 percent and absorption rate of 12 percent. This age group just reminded me of my children; one 15 and the other 18. They are at school and so should other children of their age group. But then the figures get even more depressing. Among those in this age group, 32.3 percent were not in employment, education or training, this is approximately 3.3 million young people.
The South African Early Childhood Review of 2016 says of the 6.3 million children under the age of six, 4 million live in poverty – less than R923 per month. I would question that definition of poverty which is placed at R923 per month. Who can live on this amount? Not even the R3500 living wage is enough to live on. What this suggests is that there are many more children and the statistics on poverty levels are much higher than is reported.
You know the saying that politics is about numbers. If you were to wake up on Thursday 10th August 2017 (I’m leaving you to enjoy the August 9 Women’s Day events) and instruct Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to find the money for free pro-poor education funding, just imagine the number of young people who would feel an affinity not only to you but the ANC as a whole. There are many young people of voting age who dont bother. Now fast forward to 2019 and think of that warmth by way of votes.
Mr President, after today, you really have nothing to lose. Instruct your cabinet to find the money before the end of August when the announcement on university fees are scheduled. You would save the country from the disruptions to lessons and the damage to property which is estimated at hundreds of millions.