The Capitalist Crusader on the South African economy

It is evident that the vitality that is going to turn South Africa around isn’t our carping government, but South Africans – you and me. So proclaimed self-confessed capitalist, self-made entrepreneur and successful businessman, Herman Mashaba at the launch of his second book Capitalist Crusader, on 10 September 2015.

No reason, other than failing government policies, is why South Africa is slipping in almost every sector. Government policies deflate, frustrate, and abnegate South Africans again and again. For the past 21 years government has told us that Apartheid is the reason why South Africa finds itself in its current state. In Capitalist Crusader, Herman challenges this tired government rhetoric and instead examines where current government policy is leading us, and what we can do to redirect the trajectory of the country.

It is because free market principles fan into democracy so seamlessly that Herman believes that capitalism is the only way that South Africans can pull themselves out of the poverty and other major issues ignored by government. Socialist and communist trade-union cohorts thrive on the big business of poverty and deflect government’s attention. If trade unionists, who espouse working for better employment conditions, were sincere, they’d support the FMF’s challenge of section 32 of the Labour Relations Act that makes it impossible for small business to operate according to big business’s rules. With Cosatu as its business partner, the government will never be able to sincerely address the diabolical poverty that exists in South Africa.

Therefore, it becomes incumbent on ordinary South Africans to take charge of the country’s destiny.

South Africa’s constitution is a blueprint for the expected behaviour of South Africans. It insists on the autonomy of our judicial system, yet Cosatu, as a senior member of government, cautions the judiciary to tread carefully. We have to reject continued interference in the country’s strongest democratic institution and demand that our democratic institutions remain autonomous. We, as citizens, need to register our dissatisfaction at every opportunity.

We have to do away with divisive strategies that prevent us from joining together and making our government accountable. It isn’t acceptable that our government employs cronyism to ensure that their agenda is enforced; that party politics is being decided by tribal agendas; that discriminatory laws determine who can and who cannot; that women are still devalued in patriarchal societies; that our social welfare system keeps people poor; and, most definitely, that business is regulated on every level so as to completely overwhelm entrepreneurship.

If we are serious about living in the South Africa that we were promised post-1994, we have to take back the reins of power and say “We have had enough of being bullied by a government who seeks to gag our press; of being told on what terms and conditions we can work; of being excluded from economic participation in national resources where only the political elite get to mine the wealth of our nation; of an inferior education that keeps our youth unemployed and unemployable; of the inferior health system; of incompetent civil servants; of failing institutions; of an immature leadership that isn’t fit to steer the country in a responsible fashion.

My outrage and despair at the aimless state of the country and its leadership has resulted in me being labelled unpatriotic, no longer black, a so-called clever black, and other insulting labels. I am an ordinary South African, and when ordinary South Africans are attacked for their dissenting views on government, we find ourselves in an autocratic society.

I am most certainly a patriot. I have young adult children, and for them and their future, and the future of all of this country’s children, I put myself in the sights of the government’s firing line and say “Enough!” I urge all South Africans to pitch their level of expectation to the rights enshrined in the constitution and continually call the government to adhere to these rights.

My hopes of wanting to maintain a dignified life for all South Africans may earn me the label of being idealistic. I’m more than idealistic, because attached to my hopes for our beautiful country are actions because I believe ideals supported by actions will result in a trajectory of change. By acting on our hopes and dreams for the future, collectively we will effect change.

As past chairman of the FMF, I identified a single piece of legislation (and there are many) that I felt intolerably crippled employment. After discussing it with business leaders, both locally and internationally, writing articles on it, and discussing it on radio talk shows, I realised that I had to make my distaste absolutely blatant. Through the FMF, I challenged section 32 of the Labour Relations Act in court. It has been met with vociferous objection, but I believe that we will have our day in court and the judiciary will eventually make a decision that will enable the Minister of Labour to fairly adjudicate the merits of each bargaining council’s recommendations.

I urge everyone to force our leadership to stop and take notice by using their voice wherever they find injustice and say “Enough! Enough! Enough!”

Author: Herman Mashaba is a Non-Executive Director of Black Like Me (Pty) Ltd and holds several other directorships. This article is an edited version of his speech at the launch of his new book, Capitalist Crusader: Fighting poverty through economic growth. The book is available from Exclusive books.

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