I had an abrupt wake up call yesterday whilst coaching a young, surprisingly energised young CA.
I purposely shifted our conversation into the political arena with the intention of provoking them to think out of the box.
What if the SA economy boomed this year? How could he position himself to take maximum advantage of such a situation?
I suppose it was naive on my part to think that we could deal with this on a superficial level without dragging in some of the challenges we are facing on the political front.
I have a pretty open view on the political landscape. My attachments are more about finding ways to connect than any real particular affiliation. I’m for good governance, fairness, the rule of law and equal rights for all – pretty much in line with the basic Nelson Mandela ethos (I say this because all this wonderful stuff must be expressed in an African context with its own particular nuances, cultures and history).
I avoid political debates as they can become emotional and distorted. The result? The bigger picture becomes clouded and very little resolution is attained.
But – getting back to my session with my client.
What I failed to realise somewhat naively, was that my question could not be answered without delving into the logic of how, under the current doom and gloom economic situation, such a boom could emerge?
I proposed that a possible scenario included a change in the leadership in government.
This, I quickly found out, was a loaded question. The result was the political discussion that I wanted to avoid albeit that my avoidance was more about delivering a meaningful coaching session rather than winning a political debate.
What emerged was a great shock to me.
My client proceeded to tell me that a number of his CA(SA) friends supported the current ANC leadership and had an inherent hate for Whites. They see nothing wrong in the Nkandla scandal and, if anything, believed it minor in relation to the massive frauds being perpetrated by white business. He mentioned the diabolical and shocking fraudexecuted by construction industry in building of the World Cup Soccer stadiums. I don’t think I have ever gotten over this monstrous theft that was carried out by nice looking gentlemen, living a life of culture and refinement. Thugs! And nobody was ever prosecuted, the whole thing been conveniently swept under the carpet.
And then there was the issue with Pioneer Foods and the revelation of a pricing-fixing cartel foraging off the poorest sector of our economy. Sies! – a shameful inexcusable disgrace. The resultant consequences? A relatively small fine that probably effected the shareholders by a few cents. But the criminals that set up such an elaborate scheme walk this planet as free men, gloating at how they got away ‘with it’. And now we have bank collusion on exchange rates!
These were White companies who were supposedly committed to the values and ethos of a new South Africa!
Now, our conversation was not confrontational or aggressive – in fact it was cordial and connecting – and non-political.
But for me it was a horrifying reminder of the disparities and lack of understandingthat exists between the peoples of this wonderful country. We are still pointing fingers instead of taking on collective responsibility.
The bottom line, sadly, is that it is the underprivileged people bear the brunt of this disastrous leadership. Theft of amounts exceeding R1 trillion might soon be revealed, Thus far we know of at least R600 million!
One trillion looks like this – R1.000.000.000.000!
These funds were ear-marked for investment in the future of the country – schools, health care, hospitals, roads and research. These funds were not ours to squander – they are our children’s future. And yet wherever one looks there has been wholesale pillage of state resources, taken in unprecedented amounts by the privileged for the benefit of a few.
Nobody is guiltless.
The thing is, I deal with a lot of professional people across the colour divide, most of them black. It is a privilege to be able to share in their struggles and their dreams. They are wonderful people who want to take on the responsibility of making this world a better place. Many want to go back to the communities from whence they came and use there financial skill to uplift the people they grew up with. Their sense of communal responsibility is eye-watering. Having an inside view of this value-driven backbone of these future leaders gives me the warm assurance that all is well in South Africa.
I sat in a dark cloud today after hearing that there were other fellow professions who were at war – qualified professionals who chose to support the ongoing pillage of the most disadvantaged in the country, who applauded a system that has been set up to benefit an elite few at the expense of the many. They did not want to end it. Rather they wanted to support it, to join in at the feeding trough to take their share of the spoils, leaving the disadvantaged with less and less.
When I look around, as a committed African, (albeit, an Umlungu) I see leadership! It might be in Madam Thuli M who I constantly provoke on Twitter by calling her Madam President. In her I see a person who stands tall and and forever gracious. By simply being a fair, humble and principled person with a rock-solid belief in a system of values, she evokes respect and love from across the colour divide. And as much as she tries to avoid the limelight, the exact opposite occurs – more people want her, laud her, praise her. I follow her on Twitter and am overwhelmed by her caring and compassionate ways, never saying anything bad about anybody. What a remarkable role model to us all.
And in the middle of all of this we sit as a fascinating nation that bursts forth from a brutal system, and under the auspices the Nelson Mandela, forgave the past and promoted that we hug each other and move forward. There is a greatness in this act that is unprecedented in the history of mankind.
That is who we are. That is who we remain. And this is our legacy to the civilised world.
We’ve had some bumps along the road and there are probably some still to come. But there is undoubted evidence that we, as South Africans, are a remarkable people, not because we are richer and smarter, but because we have bridged a gap between an array of cultures and are pioneering a process that allow for the way human beings relate to each other.
As Nelson Mandela claimed, “we will be a light unto to nations“.
So need I worry about a few money-hungry yuppies?
Not at all.
Based on the above, I have a deep sense that the South African people will not allow this thuggery to continue, whatever the justification. We will stand together as a force and take the African continent into an era of wealth creation and prosperity in which all will participate.