By Pinky Khoabane
The President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, will in a few hours’ time deliver the State of the Nation Address for 2017. Among the many issues he will address is radical economic transformation without which there can never be lasting peaceful co-existence in this country.
Some of the tenets of our Constitution require that we build a non-sexist and non-racial society in which we heal the divisions of the past, recognise the injustices of the past and build peaceful co-existence among the races.
On all aspects of these objectives, South Africa has failed.
While racism has been a thorn in our nation’s side and is indicative of how elusive the notion of a non-racial society is for a nation characterised by division, conflict and untold suffering, it is economic empowerment only – in the failure to attain the above objectives – that will lift the stature of Black people as equals next to their white countrymen.
The reason we have the arrogance and heightened levels of racism from whites in South Africa is because they know despite political power, nothing else has changed.
In last year’s address, Zuma spoke about the factors affecting economic growth and therefore stumbling blocks to the realisation of a better life for all. Among them he mentioned a “muted” global economic growth that has not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis; the drop in the price of gold, platinum and other minerals that South Africa sells to the world; and “electricity constraints and industrial relations which are sometimes unstable”.
He once again addressed the biggest scarecrow of recent years – the fact that South Africa was on the verge of being downgraded which meant the cost of borrowing would be more expensive.
The point is we now know that the rating agencies on whose every sniffle we are so beholden, are fraudsters. A few weeks ago rating agency Moody agreed to pay R11.7 billion in penalties for its role in the US 2008 financial crisis. It emerged that the three US-based rating agencies which are supposed to provide investors with reliable information of the risk of various kinds of debt were defrauding investors by offering overly favourable evaluations of insolvent financial institutions and approving very risky mortgage-related securities.
S&P paid $1.37 billion in a settlement in 2015 with state and federal prosecutors. Approximately a fortnight ago, Moody’s agreed to pay almost $864million.
And so, while we walk on eggshells for fear of junk status and being downgraded by fraudsters, the black majority remain in squalor and live on the fringes economically, culturally and institutionally.
Khaya Sithole – an economist – made an interesting observation in a panel discussion we had several weeks ago – that the economic indicators were the same three years ago and yet there’s this intensified threat today of a possible junk status. “I want someone to explain why there’s the difference that has put us on the verge of junk status,” he said.
The truth is that rating agencies are not only fraudsters but they have become political tools to advance one agenda or another and in most cases, it will be to advance the Anglo-US financial/economic hegemony.
Just yesterday, we published a story about Thabisile Myeni, who cant afford to be in university despite the NSFAS funding. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/transformation-education-still-designed-keep-poor/
She’s not alone – there are many like her as one of our readers, Lwazi expanded further on the matter http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/hurdles-acquiring-education-south-africa-youre-poor/
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan doesn’t seem to take the seriousness of the call for Fees Must Fall, neither does Minister for Higher Education Blade Nzimande. The point is we have the majority of children, mostly Black, who cant access higher learning despite the “attempts” by government.
But it’s not only in education that South Africa is failing to respond, honestly, about the injustices of the past and the need to address those in making a better life for our people.
A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Blacks who have waited for over 15 years to have their land claims processed. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/market-values-social-vacuums-land-question/
Our government probably wants to delay the entire process and let it run through the courts until claimants are exasperated, financially at least if nothing else, or if they don’t die in the process. The reason may well be that South Africa cant afford to pay off the debt of the theft by white settlers for fear of upsetting the rating agencies.
Blacks have been excluded in all spheres of our economy.
Zuma and the ANC cannot afford to continue paying lip-service to radical economic transformation. It is over two decades that the people of this country have been patient and that patience will not go on forever.