As long as the poor are hungry, the rich will never sleep: Kgosientso Ramokgopa
Head of the Presidency’s investment and infrastructure warns Gauteng is sitting on an economic time-bomb
Former Tshwane mayor and provincial executive member Kgosientso “Sputla” Ramokgopa says the high cost of living in SA is a ticking time-bomb.
“The price of fuel and it’s relationship with where we are. Don’t watch TV and think people are bombing each other here, the bombing is in the fridge. The bomb is on the stove. And when it explodes, no-one will be able to stop it.”
Ramokgopa was speaking during the second leg of the 14th ANC provincial conference, which is under way at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.
Presenting a document on the balances of forces, Ramakgopha told more than 1,000 delegates to pay attention to the Is — infection (Covid-19), inflation (Russia/Ukraine war) and inventory (we are getting poorer and poorer).
“If food prices continue to rise it means the poor must have one meal. If it continues, it’s two meals every two days. That’s hunger. That’s anger. And that means the rich will never sleep.
“They will rise and topple an ANC government. We are seeing it in many parts of the world. The shortage of inventory has resulted in inflationary pressures. There aren’t enough cars in the US. That drove inflation and the federal reserve had to adjust the interest rates, and that’s followed by the SA Reserve Bank.
“It means we are poorer and poorer, and the working class’s salary does not match the increase in inflation. It means you are poorer and poorer and afford less, you are going to go hungry and you are going to rise against this ANC government. We must stem that.”
The ANC must rearticulate its position on the removal of the e-tolls because it represents inflationary pressure, he said.
“We have made this call over the past four years and we are impatient. We are running out of time and explanations. We must reassert it and mandate to the coming PEC to ensure that with the necessary vigour and robustness, we mobilise society against that.”
He said resolving the energy question was equally important.
Our people are aggrieved of our inability to accommodate them in economic terms. For them to realise an upward social and economic mobility, they resort to those who are easy targets, those we call foreigners.Dr Kgosientso ‘Sputla’ Ramokgopa
“We are casualties of the failure of a monopoly called Eskom, to an extent that we have lost a significant amount of votes.
“That’s not part of an Eskom problem, it’s an ANC leadership problem. We must confront it and call it what it is. This conference must constitute the responses going forward.”
As the gap between the poor and the rich continues to widen in economic hubs, the country is going to see a rise in movements such as Operation Dudula, he said.
“We are marking the one-year anniversary of the 2021 July unrest. Where is the allocation and where is the centre of gravity? It’s in the major metropolitan areas, Durban (eThekwini) and Gauteng (Johannesburg, Alexandra and parts of Tshwane). You don’t see it in small towns because the tension is here.
“If there is going to be any movement that is going to undermine the ANC, that movement is going to come here. We have a collective duty to resolve that, to ensure that it does not happen.”
One in five families in Gauteng are living in informal settlements, he said.
“It means a significant number of them are not connected to the grid. What we take for granted, such as access to clean potable water at the time and quantity that we want it, some people do not get it. A number of you are from those communities.”
Ramokgopa said the party’s inability to resolve the everyday experiences of South Africans was problematic.
“Our people are aggrieved of our inability to accommodate them in economic terms. For them to realise an upward social and economic mobility, they resort to those who are easy targets, those we call foreigners, who have come to these spaces and, as our constituents have put it, they have come to take our jobs and opportunities.”
This then leads to tensions which manifest themselves as xenophobia, he said.
“It’s the Dudula Movement. Its origins are here in Gauteng, and Gauteng is a hotbed for those movements. If action is to be taken against the state, which in the view of others is discredited and illegitimate, the origins of that is going to be major economic centres and Gauteng will be the battle ground.”
He said the characteristics of Gauteng’s economy accentuate the economic divide.
“Those who live on the basis of abundance, affluence and access are likely to be found in Sandton and just across the M1, you find poverty, destitution, hunger and squalor. That tension cannot coexist for a long time.”
He said hungry and excluded are going to ensure that “for as long as the poor are hungry, the rich will never sleep”.
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