An equitable wealth tax on the superrich should also be considered.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a virtual sitting of parliament, 27 August 2020. Picture: GCIS
It is difficult to see how the cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic might have a silver lining for South Africa. Yet, it might – if it leads to a more realistic assessment of what we need to do to save ourselves.
If we do not try to rescue our basket-case economy, then we will become a failed state, not worth saving. That is not an exaggeration. It is the simple truth. It is sobering – actually, frightening would be a more accurate word to use – to think that this is the same country which showed, in the early years after 1994, so much promise, so much energy, so much hope.
Up to now, it has not been any natural disaster which has brought us to our knees – it has been human disaster, largely the responsibility of the ruling ANC, which has brought us here. Covid-19 has only made matters much, much worse.
The virus silver lining, we sincerely hope, may prove to be that the ANC has finally placed the straw which broke the camel’s back of public tolerance for corruption, following the looting of personal protective equipment money. Perhaps the party will realise that its legacy might be of looter, not liberator.
What needs to happen, immediately, to save the economy, is decisive action. Firstly, the horrendous spending on the civil service has to be curbed. Any organisation which comprises 12% of the workforce yet sucks up 30% of all wages, while underdelivering, cannot be allowed to continue. The ruinously expensive and ineffective state-owned enterprises need to be sold off.
An equitable wealth tax on the superrich should also be considered. But, more than anything else, the culture of entitlement – of getting services for free – among our people must end. We cannot afford it and it will drag us further down.
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