Sunday, October 12, 2003

Interesting article from M&G CEO Trevor Ncube. He's right that SA needs to work faster to improve education and facilitate the process of wealth redistribution. Right too that the way not to do this is by encouraging the emergence of crony capitalism and the idolisation of struggle leaders.

Something that's often missed when people compare SA to Zim is that wealth in SA takes a different form. Zimbabwean wealth is tied up in the land and thus when Mugabe needed to buy the support of the elite it was relatively easy for him to do so - simply sieze land and give it to his supporters. Wealth in SA is far more complex (as befits an industrialised country) and takes the form of relatively liquid capital assets which are harder to control. The ANC is unlikely to ever embark upon a programme of land seizure because it wouldn't give them access to the country's real wealth. Trying to seize the bulk of the country's real assets would be too difficult and would prompt swift and largescale capital flight anyway, thus being entirely counter-productive. One only needs to look to the developed countries where most of the land is owned by a relatively small percentage of the population (agri-business, large-scale farmers etc) to understand how the link between land and wealth breaks down as a country develops. What South Africans firstly need therefore is access to jobs, health care and education and only secondly to land. I understand that this is an emotive issue and I do favour redistribution to, in particular, tribal people's whose identity is associated with a particular part of the country. However that is very different to some of the more outrageous calls for redistribution that I've come across. The poor in South Africa are poor because they lack jobs and education not because they lack land.

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