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Sun Dec 21 23:29:15 CAT 2014

Something's got to give or democracy will give way to chaos

The Times Editorial | 12 November, 2012 00:48

The Times Editorial: Something will have to give if South Africa is to get back on the road to recovery and prosperity. But the government alone cannot bring about the necessary changes unless we are all prepared to make sacrifices.

In the past few weeks there have been violent strikes in the mining sector that led to the killing of workers, and now workers on the grape farms of Western Cape have started their own strike, demanding a living wage.

It should concern us all when workers in a labour dispute declare that they would "rather die" than return to work to continue earning "slave wages".

Their declaration, wild as it might be, reveals the deep-seated anger and frustration of many people in this country.

What colonialism and apartheid created was a reserve pool of cheap labour ready to be exploited by those who owned the means of production.

The high wage demands in mining and farming are a result of years of exploitation.

The government is expected to do away with exploitation - but that will require us to make sacrifices.

First, we need to acknowledge that the wages some of us take home are indeed "slave wages".

We should also appreciate the large number of dependents that many workers must support.

A plea by President Jacob Zuma that captains of industry, and his cabinet ministers, freeze their salaries and bonuses is a step in the right direction. But that alone will not erase the hunger of too many South Africans.

With workers continuing to demand high wages and the country unable to create jobs to broaden its tax base, we are likely to be approaching a state of anarchy.

The first big sacrifice we need to make is to ditch the selfish politics that benefit those in high office.

Bad politics are keeping us enslaved to factional battles that are un-South African.

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