After former president Nelson Mandela was freed in 1990 the ANC magnanimously agreed to abandon the notion of continued parliamentary sovereignty in South Africa. A political Codesa enabled all of us to live by the rule of law in the form of a new constitution with a new constitutional court. This was surely the first ‘miracle moment’ in South Africa and it protected minorities from the possible tyranny of the majority. Now is the time for another ‘miracle moment’ and all of us should support the call for an economic Codesa.
The editorial in Business Day today entitled It is time for an economic Codesa deserves to be taken very seriously and it is hoped that someone will find a solution to the serious economic problems that South Africans are experiencing by convening a new Codesa.
Business Day has kindly consented to these extracts appearing but you are encouraged to view or download the entire editorial by clicking on the links.
THERE is an angry mood in the country. It is cold and the politics is hot. No one who saw TV footage this week of youths attacking and burning the houses and cars of what they assumed to be African National Congress (ANC) leaders in Chiawelo, Soweto can remain in any doubt of how difficult the mob is when it gets going.
There are two strands to the anger and, this being SA, they each have a racial hue. Broadly, but not exclusively, whites warn that talk of nationalisation of land and businesses, apparently tolerated and even indulged by the ANC and its government, will be the ruin of the country.
And broadly, but not exclusively, blacks warn that the poor and hungry, the unemployed and disaffected youth, will soon rise up and do much worse to SA than anything as puny as mere nationalisation. The Chiawelo attacks will have strengthened that warning.
But what to do? There is no doubt, as many ANC leaders admit in private, that there is a leadership crisis in both the ANC and the government.
In SA, we have to find our own solutions. There is no magic source of money. The world is poorer now, and much more competitive. There is anger everywhere as people battle for work and freedom. We have to learn to trust ourselves more. The state’s natural inclination is to regulate and control, but its salvation surely lies in controlling less, in setting people free to make a buck in any legal, non-invasive and nonviolent way they can.
Anger can be useful if it is channelled wisely. Our aim should be to try to democratise our economy the way we have our politics. People need to feel included, that they too have a stake in the economy. There are a hundred ways to do that, some a lot better than others!
Like we did for our politics, we South Africans need to strike a new deal, reach a new consensus, about the way we create wealth. The aim would be to guarantee our economic growth and prosperity. We need an economic Codesa.