The third business summit spearheded by President Cyril Ramaphosa held from the 4th-5thof October brought together a governing party and a powerful and wealthy section of society which for the past twenty four years has been directly responsible for the creation of unemployment and poverty in South Africa. Within that context is a tradition by the governing party to make decisions on behalf of the victims of poverty and unemployment without any consultation nor a mandate from the majority which is yet to see the fruits of freedom and whose rights are invalidated by a life of indignity as a result of squalor and degradation.
In 2015 economic analyst Bo Mbindwane accentuated how bank cash reserves of around R1-trillion and roughly R549-billion (or 20% of the country’s gross domestic product) was sitting on the balance sheets of corporations since 2006. Trillions which could have been used to create jobs, renew factories (machinery and equipment) as well as “nudge the economy up by at least 1%” and spur a multiplier effect in other sectors whilst contributing to tax collection. Hoarding of large sums of cash, dodging or delaying paying taxes affects the fiscus, social security programmes and other public programmes to service the poor and disaffected citizens. Mbindwane further states that “South Africa sees many companies including Anglo American making their initial capital in South Africa only to use it to expand externally, dropping South Africa as a priority in the process. Often these corporations proceed to ignore how they made the capital.”
According to the Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF), Floyd Shivambu,”The Report of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa found that between 1970 and 2008, South Africa lost R1.208 trn because of aggressive tax avoidance. Yet very few tax avoidance cases have been taken to court, as the current tax laws are outdated and do not account for the fact that the difference between illegal tax evasion and legal tax avoidance is more blurred than ever due to current economic policies and the financialisation of the world economy.”
How can government create jobs, roll out social grants, provide free quality education, minimum wage for youth, free health care and improve security when companies are engaged in acts of economic terrorism? How can South Africans who bear the brunt of unemployment also trust that the ANC political elite led by Cyril Ramaphosa who wears two caps as a politician and profiteer, who has been implicated in acts of economic terrorism as outlined in the Paradise Papers and MTN Nigeria scandal, would create an enabling environment for the victims of unemployment?
The exclusion of Africans in particular and youth in general by those who control the economy of the country from participating in the mainstream economy does not require a job summit but political will from the ANC to change and enact economic legislations that will create economic ownership and control for the black majority which is currently hampered by legislations such as PPFMA, MFMA, Banking Act and the CIDB Act.
Over and above that the ANC led government under President Cyril Ramaphosa must change the scope of the financial sector which continues to gatekeep finance from the black majority. Floyd Shivambu affirms the exclusion of the black majority not only to transformation but more importantly but the “banks which continue to use race as a mechanism of granting black people access to mortgage and other forms of finances, not only reproducing and keeping alive economic apartheid but using access to credit to shape human settlement spatial patterns in terms of access to properties, facilities, education and lifestyle choices.” To the extend that “Banks and South Africa’s financial system place almost all black people in debt and have designed a cartel-like system that makes it impossible for black people to own valuable property, yet gives cheaper and easily accessible credit for perishable goods.”
President Ramaphosa should therefore acknowledge that the current macroeconomic policies which put the interest of corporate South Africa and multinationals need to change and business summits merely add-up to the illusion that capital has any interest in changing the sore sight of South Africa. This reality is compounded by the reality that the same government which has spend R15 Million on such a talk shop also intend to retrench more than 300 000 government employees but also privatize State owned entities which will also lead to job losses.
It is therefore my view that the job summit was a mere electioneering tool by the ANC led government and false advertising by a ruling party which for the past few months has engrossed in self in structural adjustments and austerity measures whose interest is not to create jobs but to punish the working class and the poor for the oor performance of the economy induced by the same sector which President Ramaphosa seemingly wants to make us believe is interested in creating jobs and creating a prosperous society for all.
Professor Boitumelo Senokoane is a professor in the Humanities Department at UNISA