For the wages of sin is death

Taking that out of its biblical context it has a literal equivalent and says something about South Africa’s current direction and prospects.

SA is often labeled the powerhouse of Africa, the gateway to Africa for the industrialised world, yet ….

Marikana, De Dooms, Amplats.  These and others are names which should evoke at best a sense of doom and fear for some of our major industries and industrial communities and their down-stream dependents, in short, for the whole of our society, because we are all interconnected.  When one industry fails a bit of South Africa dies, for the wages of sin is death.  Taken literally or metaphorically it has a ring of truth to it.

The Direct Democracy Forum believe that the post ’94 economic policies of the country have been viewed through ideological blinkers and that is the sin of the intervening years for which we are now collecting the wages.

The DDF do not believe we have all the answers or a magic wand to fix all our economic woes but we do understand that all in South Africa have to take off our ideological blinkers.  BEE has to go.  Our industries have to be restored.  Our trade and labour policies need to be reviewed so as to create employment for South Africans.  We have to build a skilled and educated population to take these policies forward.  We have to encourage a sense of justice and fair play and fair reward for all the players, capital, labour and expertise,  in our many industries and businesses,.  We have also to stop shooting ourselves in the foot with wild-cat strikes and acts of violence and gatherings that tempt the unruly and unscrupulous.  We have to re-define the roles of unions and unionisation so that these institutions look to the best needs and outcomes possible for their members, rather than blackmailing and bullying employers and the economy in general, which, while they may serve to strengthen the unions and their leaders in the short term, actually undermine the economy and employment and income opportunities for their members in the long term.  If we don’t do all those things then we live in sin.  And the wages of sin is death.

In a major move by a major player, Amplats plan to downsize because many of their operations are becoming unprofitable and unsustainable.  14 000 employees stand to lose their jobs.  This is just one example of that death.

Then everyone complains – unfair, foul, you did not consult with government, you did not consult with labour – well, labour and government have been consulting with Amplats over the years and months and Amplats have concluded that the situation is no longer profitable and sustainable and have taken the only course open to them.  This sort of response, whatever it’s specifics, is the only logical response to those sorts of circumstances.

So what is the solution – that labour should just bow to employers and live off pittances in gratitude for employment?  The DDF do not believe that.  We do not believe the relationship between capital and labour is that simple.  We believe instead that our society is more generally sick than we realise and that unless we fix it, relationships between employer and employee will for ever be at risk, because whatever either does in a sick society, it will not satisfy the aspirations either party.  

Unlike Mr Ramaphosa, we believe that government should fix society so labour and business can function symbiotically and happily together.  Business on its own cannot fix society.  It can only contribute it’s expertise and capital and profits to society and it will only do so when the experience is to it’s advantage. 

Put another way, if nobody is making the bed, no one is going to sleep comfortably in it.  Making the bed is the role of government, not of business.  Business, employers and employees just sleep in the same economic and social bed, and all will find it uncomfortable if nobody makes the bed.  Eventually somebody doesn’t want to use the bed, which is what has happened at Amplats.

The DDF believe that DDF policies will make a meaningful difference to trade, industry and investment and therefor to employment and the health of the economy.  We will not please all.  In fact, all will feel the changes and not all will be happy, but we would rather get the economy right and displease some so everyone has the opportunity to be happy.  What the players then do with that opportunity is for them to decide.

The buck stops at the ballot box

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