Senekal last week had nothing to do with solutions. It was all about politicians’ testosterone. It was all about politicians’ egos. What useful idea came out of all that heat and noise generated by all those politicians in Senekal last week? There is nothing. Nothing that makes SA a better place. Nothing that leads us to a better understanding of race relations in SA after 1994. Nothing that is a solution to farm murders – many of whose victims are poorly paid, desperate black people – or a solution to the incredibly horrendous murder and crime problem in this country.
The suggestion that the chief value that Ramaphosa adds to Lonmin is connectedness to the government will deepen the impression that if you are black and want to make it in business, you had better be politically connected. That makes it a lot more difficult to encourage the rise of black people who have a talent for business rather than politics. Signalling that black people are assets to large companies only if they can open doors to the government also makes it much less likely that our politics will be about public service rather than greed. Much of today’s political jockeying is about access to resources. But, while much of the debate assumes that people are looking for public money through tenders and the like, often the motive is to access private wealth. If the message reaching ambitious black people is that private-sector opportunities are more likely if you are politically connected, it is not surprising that part of the political game becomes how to gain a position that will be attractive to companies. – Steven FriedmanBACK TO TOP