WASHINGTON, May 12, 2014 — South Africa has gone through a major transformation in the 20 years since Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected president of that country. President Jacob Zuma has just led the ruling ANC to a convincing win in recent elections, elections that have seen the rise of the Economic Freedom Fighters led by a certain Malema, who wants to see a more radical transformation in South Africa to accommodate more black people in the economic sphere.
The transformation process has hardly been smooth, as top ANC official Malusi Gigaba admitted. “The program in the last 20 years … encouraged patronage, nepotism and other negative elements.”
What Gigaba does not want to accept is that future government programs will probably lead to the same patronage and nepotism. The ANC itself needs a radical shift in its understanding of freedom for South Africa to be a success and leader. The ANC by African standards leads a relatively pro-business government, trying to balance the needs of business and the aspirations of the majority natives of the land. Before radical land transformation in South Africa’s northern neighbour Zimbabwe, ZANU was also business friendly; pressure from the poor is made ZANU change so violently. That was never Mugabe’s plan; events overtook him, and to remain relevant, he supported what was occurring.
The ANC with the present course and the rise of Malema might be forced to be more radical in the future just to remain relevant in the political landscape.
The ANC has time to change, though change should be immediate. It can start by giving people freedom.
Freedom helps industrialization, and it removes some burden of transformation away from the government to the people. It does this by stripping protections from established industry, especially cash cows like banks, insurance companies and telecommunications. Government for the people means first and foremost protecting the people’s freedoms, otherwise it is against the people even if the people support it.
Basic freedoms come from equality before the law. If a top ANC official has the right to control a huge telecommunications corporation, then surely others should have the right to find financial support to start their own telecommunications company. What makes that top ANC official more equal than anyone else who wants to start a business — more equal because he can take actions that others are not allowed?
The ANC should move away from the elitist mentality that plagued such organizations throughout the 1970’s. It should be for the people and protecting the people’s rights, the right to take action to feed themselves. If it pursues this course, the ANC can do something that has not done in this world since 1776, when America attained independence.
America is now running towards tyranny, crushing every concept of equality before the law and trying to make people believe in government. Many don’t seem to understand that prejudice leads to larger government; groups of people stop believing in free markets when they cannot fully participate, which in part explains the sad rise of tyranny in America. This belief in economic exclusion is what the ANC must avoid.
People are better judges of their own needs and wants than government; the ANC must admit this if ever it wants to make South Africa a true global player. All countries experiencing rapid industrial growth have introduced greater market freedom. Mao Zedong’s China would never have developed at the pace the more free-market oriented China of today has.
The universe is vibrant, alive and unconstrained; mankind as part of that universe should be allowed to be vibrant, alive and free. To believe in the free market is to believe in humanity. The battle in Africa against imperialism was against tyranny. It was not a class struggle, it was a fight for freedom, the right to realize one’s potential, the fight to have black ability recognized.
At end of day, racism, bigotry and prejudice all come down to money; everything else is just decoration. That’s why black schools offered an inferior education; with the same quality education, white claims of superiority would have been exposed as simple greed and lust for power. Even so-called “class struggle” has its roots in money; it’s about who gets what. Talk of superiority is an excuse to keep others poor. People who believe these issues are really about race believes in a zero-sum game, but market freedom and equal opportunity create a positive-sum world.
The ANC need not believe in that destructive, zero-sum mindset when there is so much for all on this earth. Gigaba’s nepotism and patronage are the distortions created when governments support an elite. All governments do that, hence the need to limit their size. Without free markets there are no equal rights. There are instead elites who want to control the destiny of society. They use all means fair and foul to maintain control, portraying themselves as the best brains and the most fit to rule.
Rule by elites and rule by decree are the antithesis of the free market. Those who fear the free market fear their own abilities. The ANC must not fear the abilities of the people, nor freedom. South Africans don’t need a father; they need freedom.