OPINION: Lindiwe Sisulu writes that we are an African country, but today in Mzansi, if you talk about the Africanisation of anything, including the land or the law, it quickly becomes a big swear word …
IN MZANSI, most citizens can only own real estate when they are dead – their graves and tombstones if they can afford one. From the living majority, they become the silent majority.
Throughout their lives, like a fish out of water, they struggle to breathe. To find economic freedom and dignity, they must jump through several hoops. Very few make it succeed. It is no wonder that funeral policies are so popular. For a premium, you get a dignified burial which gives you – the dignity you could not find afford while living. For the premium takers and undertakers, the dead and dying are big businesses.
Is it then any surprise that the bulk of the wealth of this country is housed in assets and rent-seeking? Those owners have the power to generate more assets and more rent-seeking. If you go to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, they are busy trading assets, measured in shares and money.
They are sharing and doing “profit taking profit-taking”. Money or fiat currency is only a measure of assets and a means of exchange. Paper money has no intrinsic value. Tomorrow if the government declares that your R200 note is not legal tender, it will just become like a sheet of A4 paper.
Largely absent at the JSE are the African majority. It is the same with the financial flow and distribution of money. But Africans are supposed to be content with the face of Madiba on the money.
If you want to know who the real thieves of this country are, ask President Thabo Mbeki. He will tell you about his disgust at the millions and billions of illicit funds that are stolen and squirrelled out of the country and on the continent, daily, and taken overseas by financial institutions in places like Sandton.
Meanwhile, the poor guy next door in Alexandra thinks the cause of his poverty is the African foreign national selling vegetables by the roadside.
The institutions stealing the billions will tell you that all our problems are because of government corruption. Yes, corruption is a big cancer with a big giant tumour, that must be dealt with and excised aggressively. Perhaps like the way it is dealt with in China. And if there are corrupt people in government, who are the corruptors?
I think we found some answers in the state capture report with your Baines, KPMG’s, McKinseys and Trillians. We also now know the accomplished fraudsters whose sins are passed off as “accounting irregularities” – your Steinhoff’s, because of their pigmentation (they survive arrest).
I will rather tell you a story. I was told of empty spaces of land near the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court (Westgate). Because the court is a busy place, there is a lack of parking space at peak hours. You will have to park the car at the cost of R20.
In one of the parking lots, an African lady comes around to diligently collect and issue receipts.
She has a job. One day she was asked who owned that piece of empty undeveloped land that was generating so much revenue. She responded that it belonged to someone who inherited it from his grandparents down the line. That someone now lives in Italy. He left the country when the political situation changed in 1994.
When she collects the money, she accounts to a certain shopkeeper down the road, who takes a cut, pays her measly salary, and sends the money to the owner in Italy.
Yet somehow, we are made to believe that land is all about agriculture and food. Yes, food security is vital. It is a business too, and all of us interested in food security must be given the opportunity to own land and grow food for consumption and as a business.
The truth is, all the beautiful high-rise buildings for which we are visually proud of and makes us think we are some first-world country, are and for which we pay rent standing on land. Even trees grow on land, while humans must walk on land. Cars must park on the land. And truths about land are blasphemies to the “landowners”.
Meanwhile, they say we have a black middle class. What black middle class? A vast majority of them are debt slaves to financial institutions and their shareholders.
They owe their cars, houses, and policies to those who own assets on the JSE. Over a lifetime, the so-called middle class or manufactured “black diamonds” must work like donkeys to pay back the money twice or thrice in compound interest.
Woe betides them if they lose their jobs or they default. Their cars, houses, and policies will disappear like magic. And they can no longer pay their black taxes, with dire consequences for their families.
As the popular saying goes, most are just one payslip away from poverty. If you don’t have an asset base, don’t call yourself middle class. Somebody is busy deceiving you.
Real Absolute middle or upper class is ownership. And we must get used to the idea that schemes are made to benefit the schemers. You are not a beneficiary, owner, or shareholder of anything when paying premiums, rent, loans, or a bond.
Neither are you a homeowner until you have paid off that bond many times over to the folks who sold you the money. It is until nobody can challenge your right to that house and repossess it for the auction block.
We are an African country, but today in Mzansi, if you talk about the Africanisation of anything, including the land or the law, it quickly becomes a big swear word, and the anti-Africanisation propaganda machine starts churning.
They will trot out the paid puppets from all walks of life, including some “commentators/ hired guns”.
Judge President Hlophe has been dragged through a thirteen-year process for an alleged statement he made to a colleague.
His froth relationship with his colleagues in the citadel of the Western Cape is no secret. In 2009 he spoke about the Africanisation or indigenisation of the law. One suspects that is when his troubles began.
At what point does a case like Judge Hlophe take 12 years? I asked a learned friend in the Judiciary to help me unpack this. However, he struggled to respond despite his experience in law.
At some point, we need to have a difficult conversation about law and Africanisation thereof, including the glaring predictability of some cases.
The vindictiveness in a country that preaches forgiveness and reconciliation when it comes to the atrocities of some is astonishing.
And lest we forget, an ex-president has gone to grave scot-free and unrepentant about the damaging evil of apartheid. As somebody noted, he went to the grave with his hands dripping blood and could not bring himself to apologise while alive.
Meanwhile, another ex-president has gone to prison and back and is still being hunted.
Does anyone remember Koos Bekker of Naspers? He refused to go to the Zondo Commission when he was called, what happened to him when he refused? Nothing. And now currently, even our right to sing our struggle songs is being litigated.
All these questions are at the back of the very same judiciary, which refused to go to the TRC after many of us, including my mother, were hauled in.
Beyond that, the Rivonia Trialist Prosecutor (Percy Eutor) completely refused to see my father after his release from Robben Island. Remember it was my father who requested to see him after twenty-six years and he (Percy) flatly refused.
He got away with murder, and I am asking myself where were these righteous peacetime guardians of the judiciary, especially when Mr Leon, the senior (father to Tony Leon), was a supreme court judge at the time when Solomon Mahlangu was sentenced to death.
Why did they do that and sentence a poor child to death? I am asking because I was there, and I am probably the last person to see Solomon Mahlangu alive, as I waved at him when he went to the gallows.
Madiba is not only my uncle but a father to me. Now how do I reconcile with all this? Just think deep about it. Is it a sin to reflect on these things? A friend of mine who works in the judiciary tells me that the judiciary will never forgive me, and therefore I must forget if I think I will ever win any case in South Africa today, simply because I have offended them by my views.
My answer to him was that the judiciary incarcerated my family for plus-minus 6,955 years, so I am used to suffering at their hands, When, Mzansi, when are we going to seriously discuss the Africanisation of the law, and ownership of economy/financial services sectors money and assets (State Owned)?
I am asking this because of socio-economic bearing and implication these issues have in our day-day lives.
The majority of our people are hungry and are swimming in poverty which we are busy managing, while the few (predominantly white) are busy managing wealth.
I am told that the 50 million black population relies and depends on 4 million white population in our country for bread, just for bread. What an irony, we really have to stand up.
This is a ticking time bomb Mzansi.
* Lindiwe Sisulu is an ANC NEC/NWC member and the chairperson of the social transformation sub-committee of the ANC.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the DFA.