The great economic freedom con trick

David Bullard says the road to destitution is paved with such slogans

It looks as though the political rallying cry for Mangaung and very probably for the next election is the rather vague "economic freedom in our lifetime".  Popularised by former ANCYL leader Julius Malema, it's an obvious derivative of Nelson Mandela's "Freedom in our Lifetime" from way back in the mid 1950's following the adoption of the Freedom Charter.

By tacking the word "economic" onto the original phrase the ANCYL evidently hope to exploit the frustrations of the poor and unemployed. It's a cynical ploy because I have yet to meet somebody who can explain succinctly what the phrase "economic freedom" means. For Julius Malema it clearly means the right to make as much money as possible by any means possible without the interference of the Hawks or the Receiver of Revenue.

I suspect that Malema's typical audience interpret economic freedom as meaning they would have access to as much money as they want, whenever they want and without all that nonsense of having to pay interest or repay the money. And why would the ANC disabuse them of that interpretation if it means guaranteeing votes at the next election?

After all, the gullible electorate have fallen for all sorts of promises before so there's absolutely no reason to believe that they  won't go into the next election believing that the ruling party are about to hand out free money.

Of course if the ANC decided, for once, to play their cards straight with their voters they really could offer hope of economic freedom but probably not in this lifetime. But to do that they would need to face up to economic reality; something they have been reluctant to do these past 18 years.

I've always been amused at the quaint idea that a job is a human right. It isn't and it never has been. You only have to look at the growing number of unemployed in countries like Spain to realise that jobs are totally dependent on the state of the economy. If tens of thousands of Brits want to buy a holiday home in southern Spain then the building industry will do well which will mean that industries that feed the building industry will also do well.

The money the builders earn will be spent in local shops and restaurants and those businesses will also prosper and spend their money on setting up new businesses or maybe buying a new car. But once the main driver of the economy is removed (in this case the Spanish building boom) then there is an inevitable domino effect and unemployment will rise. You can stamp your feet as much as you like and scream that a job is a human right until you're blue in the face but nobody will be listening.

So for economic freedom to even stand a chance of becoming a reality in South Africa we need to offer international investors workers that are obviously superior to those found anywhere else in the world.  That means that they have to be cheaper than the Chinese, better educated than Singaporeans and more innovative than the Indians.

We fail dismally on all the above but we compound the problem by having a militant and unionised workforce. Who can possibly enter into negotiations with barbarians who are prepared to kill "scab" workers and set company property on fire? When striking miners tell the media that their aim is to bring the mining industry in this country to its knees then you really have to wonder whether the lunatics haven't started to run the asylum. What possible economic benefit can result from destroying the very people who pay your weekly wages?  But don't expect the ANC to point this out to their members.

This elusive concept of economic freedom also assumes a respect for the rule of law. For example, if I hold the title deeds to a property then I don't expect the rabble to move onto that property and claim that it's theirs because their ancestors grazed cattle on this very spot 200 years ago. But that is precisely the sort of lunacy the ANCYL speak of and encourage their followers to believe and, with nothing to lose, why wouldn't they believe it?

The only way the ANC will deliver economic freedom in this lifetime  is by stealing it from those who are already perceived to have it. The politics of envy dictates that anybody who has a house, a job, a car, private medical care and private education is "privileged" and has obviously trodden on the faces of the poor and dispossessed to get these trophies. All nonsense of course but it's a good enough myth to get the rank and vile worked up ahead of the next election and return the current crop of incompetent kleptocrats to power.

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