By Amanda Khoza, News24
Bothaville – The radical economic transformation President Jacob Zuma and the ANC are promoting is nothing but hot air, a political analyst said on Tuesday.
“Jacob Zuma is left with two years as president of South Africa and what is he going to do in those two years? He certainly won’t implement any radical economic transformation,” Prince Mashele said on the sidelines of Nation in Conversation at Nampo Harvest Day in Bothaville, Free State.
“This thing called radical transformation, it is a looting mechanism, full stop.”
Education is key
Earlier he sat on a panel that discussed resolving land issues. Mashele said there was no way economic transformation could be achieved in six months, or even two years. A rational plan that would run for years was needed.
“You must educate black people. How are you going to radically change the life of an uneducated black person? If you are black, uneducated, and 25, you have missed the boat and Zuma can sing economic transformation all he wants, it will not help you. You are unemployable.”
People needed to challenge politicians brandishing slogans like radical economic transformation.
“We need to focus on the real business of changing society and make sure that young people get the best education and skills so that they can be useful in an economy. Educated people need to run factories so that they can create jobs. That is radical economic transformation over a long period, not within two years that Zuma has left to be the president of South Africa.”
Land in South Africa, particularly commercial land, was owned by whites and black people felt excluded. Management, whether on farms on in large agri-processing companies, was white, and blacks were workers.
“That is why when you talk about agriculture, black people think that it is a white thing.”
He said technical skills were concentrated in the white population and the government had failed to ensure blacks were at the same level.
Leadership was needed both from government and business people.
“We have a very incompetent government today in South Africa and because of that, the private sector needs to take the lead. If it does not take the lead, the entire thing will collapse on us.”
Blacks needed to become involved in ownership . Currently they felt this was not the case, which made it easy for opportunistic politicians to tell them they would take it back from whites.
“We are going to get to a point where black people will be mobilised by thugs to go and occupy land as we have seen in Zimbabwe.”
Confronting racial divides
There was no way one could speak about farming and agriculture in South Africa without talking about race. The problem started when blacks were dispossessed of land.
Race had to be spoken about shamelessly and the issue needed to be confronted. The questions to be asked were who owned the land, and how to ensure that whites were still needed while giving blacks shared ownership of the land.
“What I am calling for is not a miracle. It is in the Freedom Charter of the ANC that both white and black are all citizens and they should feel that this country belongs to them, so let them share equitably.”
At the moment, blacks and whites did not care about one another’s problems.
“If you talk government, it is a black government. When the white farmers have problems, the black government does not care. When the black government has a problem of poverty, the white farmers do not care.
“Unless we are able to see the problems that are affecting white South Africans as black problems, until white South Africans see the problems that affect blacks as their own, then we will have a polarised society and public discussion is going to be about blacks and whites.”
He said whites had designed black economic empowerment to bring black people into the economy as “political insurance”.
Whites needed to realise that they had to create something else that would not only enrich a few blacks. A scheme that would see blacks co-owning and sharing South Africa’s wealth was needed.
Poverty in South Africa was a black issue. Whites cared and protested about issued like rhino poaching.
“Black people do not care about the rhino, they are grappling with basic survival issues of poverty. I have never seen a sticker by white people that fights against poverty,” he said.