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Africa Brief                                                                             5 March 2017

SA patiently waiting     

by Cees Bruggemans                   words 350

It has been true for years as the stagnation took a greater grip, but it was last month’s budget that drove it home forcefully. SA is down to patiently waiting for something better to happen, though not blind to the downside.

What is true for stretched taxpayers is true for universities. Max Price, UCT’s vice-chancellor, apparently thinks the worst of the student disruption is behind us. If not, a bigger slide awaits for higher education. Just so for many middle class households and businesses, favourite beasts of burden for a political class determined to overturn the existing order, and having a whale of a time doing it.


Unfortunately, the baggage and legacy from the past is big, colouring everything a hue not open to simple reasoning. And the budget numbers say it all – 10% of all taxpayers contribute by far the largest share of revenue.

That is an inequality from the past where only great persuasion convinces that world-class rules will deliver higher incomes & wealth while allowing a far greater participation & and spreading thereof.

Unfortunately, the time for persuasion was wasted on a breathtaking scale. And the rules of democracy make it too easy to make other choices, held up to the majority as fair and just, even when disruptive & destructive.

To assume all will be well once the current leader passes on is to miss a deeper sense of disagreement in society. The value system certainly has been corrupted from the top. And a new leader, if cut of more stern cloth, could well successfully address the worst of it, inviting a lifting of spirits all round.

But this would not necessarily overcome the deeper disagreement in society, whether from the side of the large majority or the smaller minority. And ere long, this difference about ways & means would be back in focus, preventing trust and cooperation, aside of the wonderful words spoken daily that sees, hears or speaks no evil.

It is not easy, uplifting & transforming a society. Plenty of examples before us.


Cees Bruggemans                                                                          

Bruggemans & Associates   Consulting Economists



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