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Tue Sep 30 12:21:39 SAST 2014

What I want out of a new party

Bruce Gorton | 21 February, 2013 13:04
STrams-23-03-2012-11-03-13-487-.jpg
Dr Mamphela Ramphele. Sandton Intercontinental Hotel. Johannesburg. Picture: JAMES OATWAY.

With Mamphela Ramphele forming a new ‘party platform’, which I think means she is soliciting for party policy ideas, I am back to thinking about what I want from a government.

And what I want is something of a radical departure from the economic model used by both the ANC and the DA.

The ANC and the DA both essentially run with a highly conservative economic approach.

What I mean by that is that they tend not to think of government as creating business through direct investment because neither party likes economic risk much. If they create business, it is by tendering projects rather than setting something up themselves.

Our country has a highly conservative business culture, we tend to shy away from risk and thus underperform during global growth periods. While we don’t get hit by the world going bust quite as hard, it is harder for us to recover.

We need a more adventurous approach, the private sector isn’t really providing it, and it is probably time we stopped relying on it to.

So what I want to see in a new party is ideas for how we can take the public kitty and invest it in creating new government businesses and running the businesses government does have more pro-actively.

In terms of education, I would like to see a more focused approach where we assess what we need as a country, and encourage students in that direction. If I am looking for an engineer, it doesn’t really help me if I have twenty humanities graduates.

I would also like to see a great thrust towards a welfare state with low corruption. In other words, I would like the money we are spending on things like Nkandla to actually get spent on improving the lives of the very poor.

And I think maybe creating a new tax bracket for people who earn over, say, two million rand a year could be useful if we then channel the extra money towards social projects which ultimately end up benefiting everyone.

If we do this though it has to be a deal – it has to be used in a way that doesn’t leave taxpayers feeling ripped off by the government. That means no 200 million rand palaces for bigamists in government.

I think dealing with poverty won’t solve all of our social ills, I don’t think it will reduce rape all on its own, but I think it will put us in a better position to deal with these ills.

So we need to start working on what can be done right now to reduce violence, rape and bullying because every cent we spend repairing the damage caused by these issues is a cent that isn’t going towards improving our country as a whole.

We have spent enough blood, sweat and tears just trying to stand still, it is time we got some forward momentum.

Specifically we need a plan to deal with violent protests, but just like with taxpayers, this plan has to be a deal too, because we can’t expect people to give up what has been shown to be the most effective means they have of getting heard if all that means is some government bigwig gets a fancier car.

And finally, I want to see a government that is independent of both private enterprise and labour. Cosatu has been neutered by its alliance with the ANC, it has ended up vulnerable to accusations of putting politics before the workers, which has meant the rise of groups like AMCU.

And frankly a lot of corruption is essentially an alliance between government and private enterprise to crook the taxpayer. We don’t want that.

If Ramphele can come up with a plan for all of this, she will have my vote.

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Tue Sep 30 12:21:39 SAST 2014 ::