Putting the ‘Radical’ into Economic Transformation

Not many people know what the word ‘radical’ really means.

When politicians speak about radical economic transformation (or RET for short), they generally mean, depending on their point of view, violent, militant, extreme, or just plain awesome economic transformation. But what does the word truly mean?

Radical comes from the same word as ‘radish’ – the Latin word ‘radix’, which means ‘root’.

Therefore, radical economic transformation should really mean transformation that gets to the root of our problems. And that would therefore imply a kind of shared agreement about what the root of our problems is.

Of course, the proponents of RET have a simple answer for this – colonialism, which to them was the political expression of the evils of capitalism. And so the solution is obvious. End capitalism. Nationalise banks, mines, land. Let the government run it for the good of the people.

Now I am no fan of Communist China, but one thing those Commies out east got right is that they were smart enough to realise that statist Marxism is an absolute disaster. If your goal is to liberate people economically, the government owning and running everything is just about the stupidest thing you can do.

Now, the Chinese haven’t given up all their terrible Marxism, but when their post-Mao reformer, Deng Xiaoping argued that it doesn’t matter what colour a cat is, so long as it catches mice, he was really onto something.

If your model for how you want government to run the economy is Venezuela or Zimbabwe, where people are literally starving and losing weight, then your cat, whilst it might be all the colours of the politically correct, leftist, blood-splattered rainbow, does not catch the mouse of any kind of economic transformation worth having.

But our elites here – Zuma, Finance Ministry advisor Chris Malikane, ANCYL president the Oros Man et al – actually seem to want poverty as some kind of solution for our problems. So long as they are in charge of the poverty.

This kind of ideological blindness is seen in full flow when Malema goes on about taking back the land.

I could be wrong here, but I just don’t know many people who want to get given a farm to realise their lifelong dream of producing milk, beef, or maize. In a country in which two-thirds of the people live in cities, I would have thought that giving people their own houses (as the new mayors of Jo’burg and PE are trying their hardest to do) might be the real land that people want.

So what is at the root of our problems? How can we radically transform?

Well, let’s really answer that question before we let the shareholders of SAA and Eskom and SABC take on more ownership of our economy. And remember, those who are already doing well in the economy should probably know that unless their prosperity can somehow be extended, the ‘radical’ economic transformation of Malikane might just become a reality.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment box – expressed politely please. Maybe we can can get to some real answers and solutions.