Do not kid yourself: South Africa isn’t a great country. We are far from it. And we have never been great.
But we can be.
This article puts forth some essential plans on how we can progress into not only an African success story, but a global success. Read on for a plan to build a successful South Africa.
Some of these plans do need to work in tandem, but others, even if implemented alone, will go a long way to improving our country. Each point will be brief, but can be investigated more intensely in another article.
Abolish the homelands
We cannot claim to have ended Apartheid when Apartheid’s biggest legacy still lives on by government mandate.
The tribal trust lands are not some protected reserve – if we even needed such a thing – but a relic of Apartheid policy that sought to force African groups to secede from the country.
They serve no purpose but lining the pockets of some well-connected “traditional” leaders.
In these areas, residents can’t legally own land, and, as a result, there are no decent employment opportunities. Leaders also run their own courts with “customary law”. We claim to be a liberal democracy, but we allow illiberal systems of law to function in plain sight. Culture is not a defence here, as the defenceless in our society are abused by this archaic system of law.
In reality, what should be the ex-homelands are a demonstration of modern-day feudalism. If we are to make it into the 21st century and seek a prosperous and free society, we need to liberate our citizens from the clutches of this system.
Do I really need to say why? In essence, legalising marijuana/ganja/dagga/weed will lead to economic growth and lower crime rates.
Keeping this substance illegal only feeds criminals in the same way that alcohol prohibition in America fed the Mafia. Legalising it will mean less non-violent criminals in our prisons, less money in gangsters’ pockets and an opportunity for small and large-scale farmers to produce a crop with great commercial demand.
Fix our law enforcement
South Africans live under the vast shadow of violent crime. Murder, rape, home invasions, and assaults are committed daily and to all strata of our society. Any reasonable South African must agree that we need to do something about crime.
The solution is for our government to do its damn job. Instead of wasting precious resources and effort on vanity projects and useless departments, resources need to be redirected to our police force, prison system and judiciary.
Our police need better training, better management, better resources and better oversight. What is needed is a complete reform of law enforcement to ensure the minimisation of corruption and collusion with criminals. Police need to be paid and monitored better so to discourage corruption.
Alongside this better resourcing, manning and managing of the SAPS, we also need better resourcing of our judiciary so to process criminals more efficiently.
Finally, they need to be filtered into a better prison system that can house them while not allowing the prison to just be an extension of gang turf. The legalisation of dagga will help ease the strain on our prison system to make this easier.
To aid law enforcement, private firearm ownership needs to be encouraged through the lightening of the regulations and implementation of a rural militia system to equip farmers to defend themselves where police cannot.
Private security must also be used.
Currently, private security outnumbers SAPS and are one of the final bulwarks defending us from chaos. SAPS needs to work together with private security to counter criminals. Better relations between private security companies and SAPS will solve our personnel problems and lead to less crime overall.
Ensure separation of powers
Currently, South Africa’s political system is structured so that the winner of the elections controls Parliament, and therefore gets to appoint the executive (presidency) and then the President gets to appoint the judiciary. This lack of separation of powers makes state capture extremely easy and guarantees corruption and authoritarianism.
Our constitution needs to be restructured so to separate the powers of the President and Parliament. Moreover, weakening the powers of Parliament and the President on a constitutional level will ensure the same thing. You can’t loot the treasury if you don’t have access to it, after all.
Realise our economic status
South Africa is a back-water pretending to be a capital. We think we’re developed, but we’re un-developing.
All the way back in the 1980s, Eskom was warning the government that too much pressure was being put on gaining academics, at the expense of skilled workers. Mandela did not heed these warnings in the 1990s when he began shutting down teachers training colleges and revoking support from FET in favour of scholarly academics..
South Africa acts like we need scholars when what we really need are welders, plumbers, electricians – skilled, blue-collar workers. It is all very well that we have hundreds of academics saying we need to grow our manufacturing industry when we don’t have any skilled factory workers to man it.
The solution, however, is not to build new trade schools. It is to deregulate our higher education to allow private trade schools to start-up and then begin a cultural shift at a school level that it is okay to be a skilled worker. Instead of being an indebted graduate, rather be a rich plumber.
We are a poor economy and need to build our foundation of skilled workers before we can be allowed to spend resources on thinkers. Until then, we need doers.
Our economy is strangled. Workers, skilled or not, cannot contribute to a successful South Africa because they can’t find jobs. They can’t find jobs because government regulations and union controls disincentivise employment. The solutions are:
- Encourage businesses to expand by removing the threat of BBBEE.
- Encourage employment by abolishing the minimum wage.
- Remove threats of employee mischief by weakening the political control of trade unions and lightening labour regulations.
- In general, make it easier to start and run a business through removing regulation that inhibit their functioning.
There are countless regulations inhibit our ability to succeed. Scrap them.
After deregulation, our nationalised industries and parastatals need to be privatised.
This doesn’t mean that they must be sold to the highest bidder. If possible, they should be parcelled up and sold to prevent monopolies. This must be done after deregulation so that the new private enterprises can function effectively.
Even without deregulation, privatisation at this stage is damage control.
Parastatals like SAA and SABC are just drains on the fiscus and need to be put down. Selling them to the highest bidder will get rid of a cash drain while gaining something for the trouble. And with the virtues of private enterprise – they may even become worthy businesses.
Eliminate and simplify our taxes
Taxation is theft. Plain and simple. But it is going to happen in a country anyway. Might as well make it as painless as possible.
Tax is not and should not be a means to drive forth mentally-bankrupt ideas such as equality. Tax is a fee paid for a service. The problem in South Africa is that we’re not receiving that service. In response to calls for better service delivery, the government just raises tax and introduces new taxes and hidden tax in the form of fuel levies. All this does is strangle an already-flagging tax base.
Developing countries with much less economic opportunities and mineral wealth than we have surpassed us purely by taking advantage of good tax systems. They have abandoned stupid ideas like progressive taxation and have implemented flat rate systems. They have realised that spending needs to be managed, not the private wealth of their citizens.
I propose that we abolish all taxes in South Africa and replace it with a flat rate tax of 10-20%. This will make taxation simpler to manage for all involved, ease the burden on our wallets and eliminate many unjust taxes (like grave-robbing).
Alongside this, spending needs to be cut dramatically.
Ideally, it needs to be kept to a minimum everywhere, except for security where it needs to be raised to a sufficient amount.
With lower and simpler tax, more people will be willing to pay. Without capital gains tax, foreign investors will flock to invest in South Africa. With more capital, businesses will be able to start up and expand, employing more people who will eventually be able to pay tax themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if this new tax system ended up gaining more money for the government, as the economy grows.
What is clear is that a successful South Africa is a free South Africa. We need real economic freedom and freedom from criminals. This must be done through focusing on what matters: Security and the growth of the economy.
I submit that a political party that focuses purely on these solutions will truly connect to the hearts of South Africans everywhere and will win, ushering us into a successful South Africa.