SA slipping and only a few dare say it

It’s rare that a leading business figure dares to voice his
opinion in this country. Which is why it was refreshing to
hear ex JSE boss Russell Loubser confess that he was
"gatvol" (such a lovely descriptive word) with what is
happening to the country during a radio interview. This
followed a media induced outcry over a speech he had
made at Wits during the week lambasting the ANCYL and
some of our politician’s inability to see the economic wood
for the trees.
It’s a great pity more business figures don’t lambaste the
ANCYL and those with room temperature IQ’s but the fact
is most cannot afford to. By introducing BEE ratings and
other such racist nonsense to the workplace the ANC has
effectively silenced private enterprise and made it quite
clear that if they want to do business in this country then
they must play by the new rules. Besides, anybody who
dares criticise the ruling party obviously risks being publicly
labelled a racist by the left leaning media and not
everybody sees the funny side of something like that.
Loubser has the luxury of being comfortably retired and of
having a famously thick skin (I’ve known him for almost 30
years) and some strongly held opinions. He’s a man held in
high regard by his global stock exchange peers who paid a
glowing tribute to him when the JSE hosted the world’s
stock exchanges for three days in October 2011.
When he feels moved to make the comments he made last
week it’s almost certainly because he cares deeply for the
future of this country rather than from any devious political
motive. Reading the banal and solecistic responses from
the ANCYL on Politicsweb was a depressing experience even
if it lent weight to Loubser’s argument.
What did emerge from the Loubser affair though was the
clear message that battle lines need to be redrawn in this
country. It’s no longer a matter of black versus white
(although the popular press would like us to believe that
because it helps them sell newspapers). It’s not even the
haves versus the have nots because that is a global
problem. In South Africa it’s became a battle between the
educated few and the uneducated masses.
Those who read the depressingly accurate leader on South
Africa in last week’s The Economist would have been
reminded that we are at the bottom of the barrel when it
comes to education. We score 143 out of 144 countries
when it comes to science and maths education. Under the
ANC we are turning out the thickest kids in the world. The
government likes to pretend it isn’t so by fiddling the matric
pass figures every year but the real test is whether those
"scholars" go on to get a proper degree and then find a job
for life and we know that very few manage that.
Stupidity is celebrated in South Africa as is mediocrity. It’s
no accident that most heads of state of other countries
(even non democratic ones) are highly educated. Intelligent
people tend to gather other intelligent people around them
whereas those with only a basic education feel intimidated
in the presence of those with obviously superior intellectual
This is not to say that a man with only a basic education
doesn’t have the qualities to become president. We’ve
experienced one so called intellectual president in this
country and he was a total disaster. Nobody thought Jacob
Zuma an intellectual when he became president but many of
us (myself included) thought that he was smart enough to
know what he didn’t know and would gather clever people
around him. We were wrong.
The battle lines being drawn between the educated and the
uneducated threaten to destroy this country. It is well nigh
impossible to argue rationally with someone who has no
education. That is why we have experienced so many
problems over the past few weeks with the mining industry.
Illegal strikes simply don’t happen when the workforce
understand that they have contracted with management
through free collective bargaining. But that assumes some
regard for the rule of law. Talking to a leading labour lawyer
last week I asked whether the rule of law meant anything
anymore in these violent labour disputes. His response was
that it has totally collapsed and we are all in no man’s land
now. This is scary stuff because it sends a clear message to
any foreign investor that, as far as mining is concerned, we
are a country to be avoided at all costs. How can you
negotiate in good faith with your workforce one week and
then have to deal with a panga wielding mob who have
ripped up the agreement the next? Who can guarantee that
such behaviour won’t spread to other industries like retail
or banking?
Thanks to the media hype surrounding people like Julius
Malema and the motley assortment of black celebs famous
for being famous, stupidity is now chic. It’s quite obviously
not necessary to study hard at school, pass exams, work
hard and become a success in the business world to
succeed financially. Indeed, those who take the long route
and study and pass exams are looked upon with pitying
eyes by their lazier peers. All you need to do these days is
know the right people in the ANC and you can make a
fortune by fronting a tender or becoming a cadre
appointment and simply looting the public purse. If you’re
careless enough to get caught you will be suspended on full
pay while the case moves, tortoise like, through the courts
for the next ten years. Providing you show no remorse and
refuse to be held accountable then you will do well. Lie and
deny is the motto.
Those with education know that this is not sustainable and
eventually the money will run out, investment will dry up
and we will become the new Greece. Those without
education can’t even grasp such a reality and, even if they
could, it wouldn’t matter because theirs is a short term
view. They simply don’t have the mental capacity for
forward planning.
I Tweeted recently that I didn’t believe the ANC had
sufficient intellectual capital for the relatively complex task
of running a country. Shortly after President Zuma appealed
for people to stop talking the country down. The only
possible response to that is we will stop talking the country
down when you stop bringing the country down. Ignoring
reality and being too terrified to speak out over the past
decade is what has got us into this mess. If we are going to
survive we need more Russell Loubsers and fewer Floyd
You may easily have missed this but I think it’s sinister
enough to warrant a mention. Last week the talented
Jeremy Nell lost his job as cartoonist for The New Age
where he has been since the newspaper began. This week’s
editor of The New Age is a man called Moegsien Williams
who, like his predecessor, has jumped ship from the
troubled Independent group as the retrenchment axe
swings. I have never met Mr Williams but those who have
worked with him describe him as a "brown nosing,
corporate zombie". His reason for getting rid of Nell was
that he thought his cartoons were too political. Presumably
somebody upstairs had complained. The good news is that
at least The New Age have finally nailed their colours to the
mast and come out of the closet as a sychophantic ANC
praise singer. A warning to New Age journos….this is not
something you will want on your CV in years to come.


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