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EMPOWERING SA: So it's not about the 'virus', Mr President

May 30, 2020


Open letter to the President


by Gerhard Papenfus

Dear Mr President

What has started out as an (albeit misguided) big scare about a virus, has turned out to be your government’s opportunity for ‘radical economic transformation’ (RET), which, in plain language, means the redistributing of that which belongs to ‘whites’, to the beneficiaries of the RET scheme.

According to the Citizen, during a recent visit to KZN as part of your Thuma Mina campaign, you said that “people are tired of having the businesses in our country being run by a minority”. Mr President, just on this point, it is a universal right of any businessman/-woman (regardless of their race), to run his/her business the way he/she thinks fit. This principle forms the basis of entrepreneurship. Anyone or any government trying to interfere with this, inhibits entrepreneurship – to the detriment of a country’s economic development.

Mr President, your government’s Employment Equity and Black Economic Empowerment legislation is doing exactly that; it is designed to interfere with currently white owned private business, with the inherent intention to marginalise and even punish these businesses where they do not comply with your prescriptions. This, Mr President, is a fundamental underlying cause of South Africa’s economic woes and a prime contributor to South Africa’s high unemployment rate.

Sir, during your KZN visit you also said that “our own people (which in this context exclude minorities) must run their businesses and we will empower them to do that”. According to reports, you also said that government was “feverishly working” to ensure black citizens became “serious business people” and that you “want them to run businesses and employ others”. Mr President, how can we not support such an idea. How wonderful will it be if millions of young black business owners enter the mainstream economy as entrepreneurs. That in itself will to a large extent solve South Africa’s unemployment predicament.

However, what is concerning, Sir, is your remark that you will “empower” “your people” to run their own businesses. The concern is based on previous experience. “Empowering” is essential as long as it is aimed at preparing and equipping young entrepreneurs for what is required to be an entrepreneur/businessman. Starting-up with very little, enduring hardship for years, perseverance against the odds – these are the traits in respect of which they need to be “empowered”. Any expectation of receiving anything that is not the result of hard work, which is the general, albeit very unrealistic, understanding of ‘Radical Economic Transformation’ – the redistribution of wealth on the basis of race – will render this ambition futile before it has even commenced.

Mr President, in addressing the KZN ‘command council’, according to Politicsweb, you said that the Covid-19 pandemic “quite frankly” gave South Africa an opportunity to reconstruct the economy and to ensure that Radical Economic Transformation “must underpin the economic future”. This means that this lockdown has nothing to do with the ‘virus’, and everything to do with your political motives.

The deputy-president of the Black Business Forum (BMF), an organisation that claims that they conceptualised the South African affirmative action blueprint (the Employment Equity and Black Economic Empowerment legislation), on another occasion, grabbed this opportunity and reportedly agreed with you by stating, among others, that:

• “We are dealing with a solid economic architecture, so strong, unless something drastic happens, you can’t sabotage it. You’ve got to bring it to its knees and start afresh”;
• the coronavirus was a “gifted chance”, since black empowerment had so far failed;
• he articulated the strategy of burning down the house in order to be rid of the mice; and
• in the ruins of the old, South Africa will have a chance “to start all over to build a new economy”.

This, Mr President, is economic genocide.

Dr Mukovhe Masutha, a manager in the ANC’s policy unit, reportedly wants the National Command Council (a body called into being to deal with the ‘virus’) to be made permanent for purposes of the “rapid implementation of the government’s programs of action”. He sees the State of Disaster as an unprecedented opportunity to refashion every aspect of society. According to him “it is time for us to guard against the tyranny of the markets . . . even if it means risking everything”.

Mr President, this is all happening under the type of leadership and political space you are providing.

Sir, I find it quite interesting that while you are handing out title deeds (in this particular instance in Stanger in KZN), you are also contemplating ‘expropriation without compensation’. These are mutually destructive actions, unless the ‘giving’ is meant for one ethnic group and the ‘taking’ for another.

In a very short time, many who were hopeful at the time of your coming to power, are now very disillusioned. And rightly so. It has also become very clear that the optimism at the time was unfounded.

I write this to you, Mr President, in order for you to realise that we know where we stand with you.

For more information:
Empowering SA Media Department


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