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Sun Dec 11 02:16:45 SAST 2016

DA promises sound empty

Bruce Gorton | 2014-03-10 11:31:34.0
BLUE STREAK: Helen Zille at the launch of the DA campaign for Mpumalanga in Nelspruit last week.
Image by: WALDO SWIEGERS

At the moment I am trying to figure out which party I want to vote for – and thus far it isn’t the DA.

Okay, I believe people who say the DA will bring back apartheid are being stupid.

We have cops violently putting down protests, even former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni’s son got arrested for not carrying his papers and the bulk of the country’s wealth still remains in the hands of an elite few.

We have an educational system where some rural children have to worry about drowning in open pit toilets at school, and our government is currently discussing what amounts to a two tier legal system in the form of the Traditional Courts Bill.

We have cops stripping people naked and beating them up in our streets.

Plus we have seen several efforts to try and legislate what the press can and cannot report on.

I’m not entirely convinced that apartheid isn’t already here.

That said, all of this does not translate into automatic support for the DA’s policies.

One of the refrains I have heard every time the DA talks about how it will run the country are that it will lower taxes while improving service delivery.

The basic idea is that it will do this by stopping corruption, and the more I think about it, the emptier the promise sounds.

Dealing with corruption in this country is not going to be a quick, easy process. It will benefit us in the long term, but in the short term investigators want to get paid, as do lawyers and people involved in lengthy legal and labour disputes.

So promising lower taxes right off the bat, and saying that you will effectively increase proper spending by reducing corruption, ignores the fact that getting corruption under control will itself cost money.

It is a nice smug answer to say “We’ll steal less” when asked how your party plans to actually enact its policies while reducing taxes, but I think it ultimately doesn’t address the question.

The idea gives me the same sort of feeling I get with I hear the DA claim that a vote for them is a vote against e-tolls, so far as I am aware Sanral has pretty much won its case in the courts, and it would take evidence of corruption, not just the suspicion of it, to undo what the ANC has done.

In other words – you could claim that a vote for the DA is a vote against the same sort of thing happening again, but I honestly think the e-tolls are a done deal.

Further, one of the chief issues our country faces right now is high income inequality, which even the IMF has come round to identifying as an issue for economic growth.

In a recent study it said that measures to deal with economic inequeality appear to actually lead to more long term growth, while growth in a high inequality environment appears to be fairly small and unsustainable.

This is not what the IMF would have said a few years ago, it has historically been a strong advocate for minimal government intervention in the market.

When even that organisation starts talking about the need for economic redistribution you know the Neo-Keynsians have pretty much won the debate.

And yet the DA’s overall economic policy smacks of austerity.

Instead of using savings to lower taxes – well there are a million and one things we need to address. How about feeding our nation’s street children for a start? Or hiring more science teachers in our rural areas? Or increasing funding for basic research? Or even just getting things right in our municipalities?

Heck the recent trial of Oscar Pistorius has highlighted the need for some work on our court interpreters.

I don’t want to vote for a party that I think would be a disaster in power just because it is the biggest opposition to a government gone arrogant.

Cutting funding to our government at this point I think would be disastrous – I think we have an expensive few years ahead before we can even really think about it.

Sure, the ANC will at a point have to go. Part of what has corrupted the old party is this idea that it will rule forever, thus it has all the time in the world to sort things out.

We in this country don’t have all the time in the world. We have protesters burning down buildings, including police stations.

How have the ANC done at running our utlities? Let’s put it this way – we’re going through blackouts because Eskom didn’t expect the rainy season to be wet.

But we need some serious opposition, and part of that is a party that will say things we can trust.

We need a plan that will actually work, that isn’t discredited simply by thinking of the practical issues with it.

And that plan won’t be quick fixes – that won’t be instant jobs, instantly lower taxes, or instantly working services.

It will take decades to achieve what we want in this country – and we need a party that can at least claim to be about making a believable start.

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