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If Brazil can do it, we can

These are not happy times for our country. Political violence is becoming normalised, the strike wave shows no sign of letting up, education remains in crisis and corruption has reached the point where people are making comparisons between contemporary South Africa and Mobutu’s Zaire. And our economic crisis, with mass unemployment, seems more or less permanent. And it is this last fact that should be keeping our rulers up at night. Mass unemployment will, inevitably, lead to an explosion of some sort.

It seems to many people that the dreams of 1994 lie in tatters. There should be no equivocation on the reality that there are very serious threats to our society and that many of them come from within the ruling party and its alliance partners.

If we keep going on the road we are on we will end up with a society in which politicians plunder the country from within their gated luxury. We all have to move, and move fast, to challenge the direction in which the country is going.

But we should not fall prey to a debilitating pessimism. If we look at where we were twenty or thirty years ago we have a lot of be grateful. Racism, a truly odious corruption of what it is to be a human being, has no formal legitimacy and many of our children are growing up in environments far less toxic than their parents and grandparents. That is something to celebrate.

And the fact that so many black families have been able to take advantage of the end of formal racism to advance, to educate their children and join the middle class is also something to celebrate. The black middle class is now larger than the white middle class. For all these people this country and its democracy have opened real opportunity and many of them will not let it go down without a fight.

And although there are forces that would like to roll back press freedom, and although our media is still very much an elite media, we still have much more freedom of expression that we ever did under apartheid. This too is something to celebrate. It gives us a lot of space not just to expose failures of government but also to have real discussions about alternatives.

And while the ANC’s failure to create jobs will probably lead to serious consequences, its best project has been the system of grants which has blunted the sharp edge of poverty for millions of people. The party’s worst policy decision, and the one that will come back to haunt it, is its arrogant refusal to consider the basic income grant. But the success of the pension system and the child support grant does give us an institutional basis on which we could roll out a basic income grant. We have the money for us and all we need is the political will.

But although it has made some good decisions here and there the fact is that our government is degenerating at an incredible rate and the ruling party is, as most of its cadres openly admit, in a huge mess. We have passed the point at which we could look to the government and the ruling party to find a way out of the swamp into which we have sunk. We know have to look to society itself for a way out.

What this means is that we need serious debates and discussion at all levels of society about a way forward. This must be at the level of ideas but, also, at the level of practice. We need to be creative and open-minded. But two things are clear at the outset. One is that there can be no sustainable future that is not democratic. The other is that there can be no sustainable future that does not seriously and speedily address poverty.

We can turn our country around. Brazil is no paradise but it is a country that is moving forward and without the right ideas, the right forms of organisation to drive good ideas forward and the right leadership we could also halt our dissent into social and political decline and start to move forward. If Brazil, once a dictatorship and once the most unequal country in the world, and a country that has been wracked by gross corruption, could turn the corner so can we.

The important thing now is not to give into pessimism. We must build on our achievements and move forward to a democratic society in which everyone has a real stake. But this does require a real debate and for a real debate to flourish we all need to put aside some of our dogmatism, some of our all too quick assumptions about others and to keep an open mind. The stakes are just too high for us to be able to fall back into our old habits.

One thing that’s clear from the Brazilian example is that social grants — direct cash transfers to the poor — have done more than anything else to begin to reduce poverty and inequality. Mass unemployment is simply not politically sustainable and if a grants system can buy us some time while we try and resolve our economy problems we really should examine it as carefully and seriously.

Talk about a “second transition” or even a “Zuma moment” is cheap. What we need is real and effective action. If the Brazilian model of cash transfers could work there we need to take it very, very seriously here.

Imraan Buccus is a research fellow in the school of social sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and academic director of a study-abroad programme on political transformation.

Author

  • Imraan Buccus is a university-based researcher in Durban. He is also a PhD Research Fellow at the Centre for International Development Issues, Radboud University, Nijmegen in The Netherlands. Imraan is the editor of Critical Dialogue, a journal on public participation in governance, and his academic interests include issues around civil society and poverty, participatory democracy, social accountability and local governance.

38 Comments

  1. Dave Harris Dave Harris 17 October 2012

    “while the ANC’s failure to create jobs will probably lead to serious consequences”
    Again, your apartheid indoctrination leads you to the fundamental misunderstanding that government can create the quantity and types of jobs we need. This was the case under apartheid, but the role of government in a democracy is facilitate the regulatory environment to allow the private enterprises to create jobs. Our problem is that our economy is still controlled by the beneficiaries of apartheid – over 90% of top CEO positions are still white men, who have more interest in profits than transforming our society for the long-term stability of our democracy!!!

    Comparing Brazil’s economic success to SA is ludicrous, since Brazil is an ENERGY producing country in a world where fuel prices are at an all time high! Its hard to believe this infantile logic of someone who claims to be “researcher”.

  2. Da Silva Da Silva 17 October 2012

    Good points. Brazil has also done much better than SA on some very high tech, very first world industries that are global leaders – EMBRAER for example. The day SA has a company of this type that does not just dig out resources or manufacture outdated European designs (like most of our manufacturers), we will really become world class.

  3. Dave Harris Handbook Dave Harris Handbook 17 October 2012

    What! How can you suggest that there is anything wrong with the ANC and the alliance! Your arguments about Brazil are far too complex for me to follow. Let’s rather talk about the white tribal party in the Western Cape, the DA, and how they are responsible for everything from global warming to the price of pork in China. There now – I have delivered Her Majesty’s comments about Brazil and your article…..

  4. mundundu mundundu 17 October 2012

    brazil is a largely monolingual, largely monocultural [although multiracial] country in which there any real and comprehensive plans for improved social equality have only started in the past ten years, and only then in piecemeal efforts.

    the brazilian government also understands the importance of education, even though its public schools are pretty crappy — although miles better than south africa’s schools.

    something you didn’t mention about the brazilian social grant is that continued reception of the grant is related to school attendance. if your school age children don’t go to school, you don’t get the money. in some places, there are actual transponders inside the school uniforms. that’s something to think about, but i don’t see that part of it happening here.

  5. ntozakhona ntozakhona 18 October 2012

    Imraam is distinguishing himself as a commentator who has a lot to say about nothing. He insinuates that South Africa has reached the levels of depravity witnessed in Mobutos Zaire yet salutes it for creating an environment less toxic to bring up children in. There are many more generalisations and contradictions in his eagerness to bash the ANC and impress the colonial ruling class.

    The only proposal he makes is for the implementation of the income grant as a panacea to poverty. The Brazilian cash grants were linked to agrarian reform and education making them sustainable. South Africa has chosen the path of grants to cooperatives to stimulate economic activity.The idea is not to buy time as he suggests but to tranform our economy and change the lives of our people.

    He conviniently neglects to mention that Brazil was during the period under review was led by a grade four drop out working class leader. 40 politicians faced charges of corruption in which the rightwing media also implicated Lula. Sounds like scenes from South Africa. One of the critical differences is that the private sector in Brazil participated in social programmes initiated by Lula and the Worker’s Party.

    The Workers Party led the debates in Brazil in a manner the ANC is doing. Debate is not about pandering to colonial whims but seeking solutions to end inequality. The second transtion is not just talk but a proposal on how transformation may be effected.

  6. ntozakhona ntozakhona 18 October 2012

    continued

    Imraam is being dogmatic in dismissing debates around the second phase of the transition without stating what his issues with it are nor propounding an alternative route. His mocking of the Zuma moment is equally irrational as he seeks to convince us to adopt the Brazilian model – which he does not understand.

    He sates that the 400 000 or so black middle class created through ANC government programmes is larger than the white middle class. Please provide evidence to contradict the fact that the white community in South Africa is overwhelmingly middle class. The 400 000 or so are used by colonialists as evidence of looting and corruption by the colonial in South AFRICA.

  7. manquat manquat 18 October 2012

    Brazil’s history, culture and population are incomparable to SA. Yes, they are both developing countries but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other countries because we are uniquely different. We have so many different languages and cultures etc.

    If we want to build our country, there’s no other way, but to unify under one umbrella regardless of race and language. We should all fight one enemy. The enemy we need to fight is corruption, mediocrity, and poverty.
    We also need to hold every citizen accountable and have a strong rule of law.
    Unfortunately we reward incompetence and praise mediocrity. This is why we are in the mess we are in. Is unity in diversity possible? Yes indeed it is. When we reach that magic formula of uniting African, White, Colored and Indian under one banner. We can compete globally and surprise the world.
    That’s what I love about SA a country that is an underdog, yet at times can pull something really special out of the hat.

  8. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 18 October 2012

    @Buccus, I don’t know if you ever been to Brazil but, one can’t compare SA to Brazil. For one thing Brazil can give food grants the poor because this country is a mass producer of food. In Brazil if families getting these grants don’t send their children to schools the families will have their grants stopped. In Brazil, less than ten percent of the population are are receiving family grants. In SA over fifty percent of the population are receiving family grants.

    In Brazil the president, members of congress, state governors, mayors of the cities are all elected by the people and accountable to the people. In SA nobody is elected to office and accountable to the people in SA. In SA this country is semi-feudal and the tribal chiefs controlled a vast part of SA. In Brazil the government doesn’t have to keep the tribal chiefs or the king happy. It’s very hard for the kingmakers to run Brazil like they do in SA. The president of Brazil is more concern with keeping the kingmakers happy then the people of that country. In Brazil, if the officials are brought up on charges for corruption, the Supreme Court will try them and president cant’s influence the decisions. Just recently, 36 members of the government in Brazil will be sent to prison.

  9. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 18 October 2012

    @Buccus, correction, I meant the president of SA is more concerned with keeping the kingmakers happy then the people of SA.

  10. ntozakhona ntozakhona 18 October 2012

    “If I fail it would be the working class failing; it would be the country’s poor proving they did not have what it takes to rule” Lula, the bush beareded Che Guevara T shirts wearing Brazilian president who dropped out of school at Grade 4, had a child out of wedlock and was implicated in corruption by the rightwing sections of the media in his country. He reminds me!

  11. The Creator The Creator 18 October 2012

    Permit me to point out the obvious: the South African social grants system is actually more generous than the Brazilian one, and reaches a greater proportion of the population than the Brazilian one.

    Brazil is certainly developing more effectively than South Africa is, but there are other reasons for this.

  12. The Critical Cynic The Critical Cynic 18 October 2012

    The antagonism on this forum would reduce if the comments and criticisms were a little more balanced – and this is coming from me, the critical cynic, but I think it’s a common failing of many here!

    Really, despite all the valid points made here, including pointing out successes to be celebrated, Imraan is routinely torn apart for daring to compare us to Brazil, and labelled a DA supporter ! Comparrisons illustrate the art of the possible. Although a direct comparrison and an attempt to emulate Brazil’s successes by following their approach is unlikely to yield similar results, looking at other countries solutions can be very inspirational.

    Are the opponents of comparrison really so blinkered? Several countries have looked at the SA model of [the first] peaceful transition as a model or template and a point of departure for them to formulate their own transition. Are they ok with this?

    We should be finding points of commonality and agreement in order to discover the differences we could be working on overcoming. Instead there’s huge evidence of polarisation on TL.

    Harris is correct – it isn’t government or the ANC’s job to create jobs. Let’s balance this -1. The ANC (JZ) promised 500000 jobs 2. it is their job to create and sustain the best environment for the private sector, all the way down to brave individuals, to feel confident to take the risks associated with starting new businesses and employing people (and stop making false promises).

  13. Tofolux Tofolux 18 October 2012

    @Imraan,again very unprogressive. I wonder why you havent taken into account the societal fractures that exists in communities, corporate sector, hostile fourth estate, the state of endemic classism, the effects of the credit crunch or globalisation. I note the misleading intention iro Brazil , its formula. Lula and Brics. In fact, it is remiss of you not to account for Brics. I am disappointed that despite certain credentials and also this thing of thought leader that there is very little leading in the way of thought. I personally expected that we would be spoilt for really good and valuable input. The drivel that we are subjected to once again brings to light the mediocracy and sheer drivel that not only seeks to inform those who read this mess but also that is imposes itself as something to be considered. I venture to ask would we ever be spoilt by the likes of a Brian Bunting? Our parents were spoilt for choice by the huge reservoir of journalistic talent that existed in the day albeit that it was banned. The bad quality that exists in social medium or strata makes one wonder where society is heading? It cannot be that the intellectual wealth that exists amongst others should be insulted in this way. But let me say, you guys must have some magic potion somewhr that suggests that you can wave a wand on all our social ills. Denis Goldberg, a Rivonia trialist said “we never promised you a rose-garden” It would be dishonest to pretend that its isnt going to be hardwork.

  14. Chris2 Chris2 18 October 2012

    As long as criminal behaviour is tolerated, we are in trouble. A judge has found that abolition of the death penalty has resulted in respect for the sanctity of life being greatly diminished. Unforeseen consequence of good intention. Wildcat strikes are becoming the norm because some showed success. Disrespect for the law is the result and it may contribute massively to the failure of South Africa. Cash handouts tend to carry with them the unintended message of entitlement and that it is unnecessary to work. The trade unions have already obtained a dispensation which is out of tune with the country’s competitive situation and joblesness. They effectively fight (maybe unintendedly) to keep the jobless out of work.
    We seriously need something like communal projects for groups of unemployed people which can act as a step-up into regular employment for the more promising individuals. Skills training should be offered after regular work hours for those that are keen to improve themselves. One can envisage such groups being applied in ‘uneconomic’ environmental and other projects. Living conditions could be managed on a communal basis. Obviously, competent leaders will have to be developed for such groups and strict discipline would be a prerequisite for success. Spending government money on such schemes would make more sense than pure social handouts. Such a scheme could be tried experimentally on a small scale at first, but would have to be promoted by a respected public…

  15. Enough Said Enough Said 18 October 2012

    @Imraan Buccus

    Thanks for this article. The central point to me is “One thing that’s clear from the Brazilian example is that social grants — direct cash transfers to the poor — have done more than anything else to begin to reduce poverty and inequality. ”

    A very simple straight forward solution the average right-winger will try to distort or dismiss.,

  16. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 19 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, Brazil is a country like he US was founded with slaves from Africa. However, there is no comparison between Brazil and SA. Brazil has a vast agriculture sector that’s one of the largest in the world. Brazil has a vast private sector that’s one of the largest in the world. This country is loaded with natural resources and many of them haven’t been used. Brazil has many rivers and get a lot of rainfall most of the year.

    The Brazilian political system is different from SA, in Brazil everyone from the president, members of Congress, state governors and mayors are all elected and accountable to the people in Brazil. In SA nobody is elected in SA and accountable to the people in that country. Brazil doesn’t practice feudalism and have homelands where the tribal chiefs are ruling the area. The only exception is in the Amazon where native Brazilians live. Kingmakers don’t rule Brazil like what is going on in SA.

    In Brazil the PT party never got a majority of the seats in congress and this is why Lula had people buying votes to get his bills passed. It was the president of the Supreme court in Brazil that said Lula should have been charge for corruption. This was a man that was appointed by Lula. He also was the first black Supreme court justice in Brazil. He was a graduate of the University of California at Berkley.

  17. Charles Charles 19 October 2012

    I see lots of vitriolic responses to what I enjoyed as some fairly good analysis and input. Although the author did exhort (in the 2nd paragraph nogal) – “There should be NO EQUIVOCATION on the reality that there are very serious threats to our society and that many of them come from within the ruling party and its alliance partners.” …it seems the majority of comments from the ANC acolytes are lame, regurgitated equivocations of the desperate and tiresome kind.

    With regards to the comparison between Zuma and Mobutu, the author is merely echoing some commentary from The City Press, http://www.citypress.co.za/Columnists/Echoes-of-DRCs-Mobutu-in-KZN-20121013
    The article is certainly balance with the right amount of optimism and realism to warrant publication in these pages, so the eager, misdirected criticism in the comments section is unwarranted and testament to the mob-mentality so prevalent in our country today.

    @Dave Harris, if government’s job is to create the environment for business to prosper and generate employment, then government is an unmitigated failure as countless research papers attest to, specifically in areas of IT/telecommunications; media; energy supply; agriculture and numerous other areas. To argue other wise is foolhardy in the extreme but I suppose this can be understood in the context of your legendary and predictable sycophancy and blind loyalty to failed ANC doctrine.

  18. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 19 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, Lula was known to talk left and walk right in Brazil. When Lula was president in Brazil, he never appointed a black to his cabinet except the minister of culture. He sold off all of the state owned enterprises and the pension system was overhauled by his administration. Lula did appoint a black to the the Supreme Court but, this is no big deal in a country that’s half black. The rise of civil right groups in Brazil were the reason why Lula did a lot of things for the underprivileged. The elected Congress in Brazil didn’t allowed the PT party to screw up the economy in Brazil like the unelected parliament is doing in SA. Lula says that when he became the president of Brazil, he was quoting Mark and left a Social Democrat.

  19. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 19 October 2012

    @Creator, the food program that one sees in Brazil was started by the governor of the capital of Brazil. He was name Buarque and he was the one that said if the parents didn’t send their children to school the parents would lose their food allowances. You are right the food program in Brazil only covers a small percentage of the population and the amount of money is small..

  20. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 19 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, you must remember that Lula didn’t have a college degree but, all of the members of his cabinet had studied at the best universities in the world. In SA the people are appointed to jobs because they are kingmakers or related to someone in the government. In Brazil Vavi would not be able to shut down the government like he has been doing in SA by calling strikes. In the case of Malema, he wouldn’t make the front page nor would he be given the privileges he had in the government in SA.

  21. Rory Short Rory Short 19 October 2012

    @Imraan you say ‘… the ANC’s failure to create jobs will probably lead to serious consequences…’ but I think the ANC’s failure in this regard is not its failure to create jobs, it is not a government’s role to create jobs, but rather its failure is in its inability to foster an environment in which individual citizens are motivated to create economic enterprises. The ANC’s economic mind set was shaped by the conditions which existed under Apartheid where economic activity was experienced as the preserve of a select few who controlled the big conglomerates from mining houses to banking institutions. From a community health point of view such an unbalanced economic situation is seriously unhealthy. From a community, and individual, health point of view each and every citizen needs to be viewed as both a consumer and a producer. The consumption side of us all can be taken for granted, we are all born consumers, but the production side has to be fostered and this is where government is failing the people in a myriad of ways. To mention just one of the many because it is central to all economic life and that is money. Money is nothing but the externalisation of the intrinsic values accorded to exchangeable real goods and services by each and every citizen. Thus by rights money belongs to everybody and its control and issuance should be the preserve of the community not some select group within it. As a first step to true economic freedom money should be democratised.

  22. blogroid blogroid 19 October 2012

    There is so much more to Brazil’s success than is dealt with in this analysis. It is the world’s sixth largest economy with a GDP six times that of South Africa’s and a population approximately three times SA’s. While there are huge poverty gaps there is also a relatively huge educated class.

    It is also an unashamedly “capitalist” country and while Provocateur Harris is correct that it is an energy producing country, the facts are that 60% of its exports are manufactured or semi-manufactured goods.

    They have also averaged nearly twice our growth rate over the past 18 years. While, we have gone from a high point of 7.6% growth in ’94 to a low of minus 6.3% in 2009
    they have remained consistently above 5%. Right now the internecine strife represented by the present strike wave may well push us back into recession by mid 2013. IOW we are hectically volatile.

    The fact is that Brazil has emerged from a long post colonial, post liberation era and has settled into a growth oriented paradigm while we are still in the early phase of our post liberation era where too many of our planners are still locked into apartheid focussed antipathies [ as represented by, among others, provocateur Harris] while many are focussed on personal self enrichment.

    We are, in other words only at the beginning of a cycle from which Brazil has seemingly emerged and our second revolution is in all probability still half a century off… even allowing for faster life cycle projections.

  23. ntozakhona ntozakhona 20 October 2012

    Sterling Fergurson make up your mind on what you want to say before you type. The growth of the agricultural sector in Brazil was a result of interventions by the Workers Party. Say it Workers Party. It is linked to Bolsa Familia which incentivised family agriculture amongst others.

    Indeed Brazil was one of the leading unequal societies in the world due to the history you have outlined. The resources you allude to did not previously help deal with the scourge but were like in SA used to perpertrate it. The Workers Party deliberate intervention have drastically reduced inequality , lifting at least 20 million people out of poverty into the middle class and making Brazil the eighth largest economy in the world.

    The vast resources were also mobilised to fund government infrastructure programmes and the patriotic private sector participated in the funding of variuos social projects initiated by the governmentt. Left wing politics are about the state intervening in the economy on the side of the poor and working class and that is what Lula and his Worker’s Party did hence his statement that i quoted in which he said that his success is has exploded the myth that the working class and the poor cannot govern.

    The Worker’s Party appointed people of its choice to run the government replacing SDP appointees. In South Africa that is called deployment. It passed judicial legislation that created an environment ib which radical changes were possible, the appointment of a …

  24. ntozakhona ntozakhona 20 October 2012

    The appointment of judges and ministers that made rightwingers in South Africa and Brazil uneasy was a product of a radical transformation of society not a Lindiwe Mazibuko type of window dressing.

    Ferguson admits though grudgingly that where traditional knowledge and governance systems still exist and are practised they are protected and sponsored by Brazilian legislation. This is the direction South Africa is taking in the context of its obviously unique colonialism of a special type circumstances.

    Sterling’s tripe about the democratic system chosen bt Brazilians is no longer worthy of any comments except to say that it is not supported by even the worst of his fellow rightwingers in this and other fora. We have said before that like floor crossing initially glorified by the DA , first past the post system will wipe out opposition voices in the SA parliament.

  25. ntozakhona ntozakhona 20 October 2012

    Sterling’slast comment is mere speculation and am not qualified to comment on the psychic abilities of palmists and such, It must be said though that in its history Brazil and Argentina knows strikes and mass protests as large as any other.

    I agree that Malema is now a product of the South African media and does not deserve even a mention in the sex pages.

  26. ntozakhona ntozakhona 20 October 2012

    Sterling I will leave it to intelligent bloggers to help you understand that leftwing politics unlike your rightwing politics are not based on dogma and hate of fellow beings based on creed, religion, race etc In fact they are an anti-thesis of all that,

    Lula, the Bolivian president, Chavez and others are guided by the material conditions prevailing in the world and their countries, To them, like the leftwing in South Africa, politics are the art of the possible and a science of the probable. It is progress that you seek to claim Lula but please do not distort him as the likes of you always do with ANC member Nelson Mandela.

  27. jack sparrow jack sparrow 20 October 2012

    @ntozakhona, I think part of SA’s problem is a total inability to move past ideology and dogma. No different now from apartheid. No two countries are the same but may have some broad similarities. SA should cherry pick the best ideas from around the world and consolidate on those. Fundamentals though are a good education system, well balanced good infrastructure including water and electricity and government facilitation for investment and development. Education is vital if one of your problems is unemployment BUT it isn’t everything. Zim citizens are well educated but their country is a mess.

    Sadly SA is failing in more than one of the areas I’ve suggested. You be the judge.

  28. Yaj Yaj 20 October 2012

    @ Imraan. excellent article. I fully support your call for the basic income grant.It is well overdue and is utterly misunderstood by those who either perceive it or depict it as a hand-out rather than a leg-up to the poor and disenfranchised. It is true that Brazil has achieved much in reducing unemployment (8%) , inequality and poverty. They have achieved this through basic income as well as the establishment of state-owned community banks and capital controls in the form of a financial transactions tax on all currency, bonds and stocks transactions. The transactions tax initially implemented at a very low rate of 0.38% raised revenue to the amount of 20 billion US $ per annum which funded their social security programme. This transaction tax was subsequently increased to 4% in an effort to reduce the volatility of the Brazilian real caused by speculative capital flows.
    WHY is this government of ours NOT being proactive and implementing such creative economic policies ?? Why are we incapable of pursuing independent economic policies and monetary reforms ?? WHY is this pathetic government fiddling while we slide into ANARCHY ? And why are we adhering to the discredited neoliberal Washington consensus??
    If the basic income grant was implemented 10years ago, we would not be having the social unrest and violence that we are now witnessing. Basic income is not the panacea for all our woes but it does restore some dignity to the starving masses and is a worthy investment.

  29. Yaj Yaj 20 October 2012

    @ Imraan

    Further more we need a financial transactions tax in the form of a small levy (1to 10%) on all transactions as a REPLACEMENT for scrapping personal income tax VAT and even corporate taxes. it is effectively a BANK turnover tax. It is progressive, it is effective , efficient and virtually unavoidable especially by the big corporates and private banks that are notorious tax avoiders! It also taxes speculation and deters rent-seeking non-productive transactions in the form of “hot money” flows. It will reduce the volatility of the rand and deter currency speculation and will favour fixed direct investment of the more desirable bricks and mortar type- creating employment. It would stimulate demand by increasing disposable income of the poor AND middle classes and thereby lead to job-creating growth by small businesses. It could even be variably set as a percentage to control inflation much more effectively than the blunt instrument of setting interest rates. This total economic activity levy ( acronym TEAL) also incentivises spending and fixed capital formation for investment. It is a NO-BRAINER !! It can be seamlessly implemented -the technology is there. Why has this concept not been considered , not even researched by the like of Pravin Gordhan and his conservative cronies in Treasury ??! ,

  30. Brazilian Brazilian 20 October 2012

    SA is beset by two political values which make its success almost impossible, compared to a country like Brazil. One is the obsession with race, the use of race as a political tool, and a pervasive antiminority racism which has not been seen in any modern state since Nazi Germany. The second is a ruling party based on Leninism – which sees democracy as a useful tactic, but is basically totalitarian and anti-democratic. Unless these values change, and it is unlikely under the ANC in which they are core values, SA has very little chance of ever being a winning nation.

  31. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 20 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, in Brazil the members of Congress are directly elected and don’t always answer to the party that they are members of. In Brazil, the PT party never got the majority of the seats in Congress while Lula was the president. In SA members of parliament are not directly elected because the members of parliament are appointed by the parties. Therefore, these people will vote the way the parties tell them to vote but, in Brazil, the members of Congress will not always follow the party line. The new government in Brazil is a democracy and the government in SA is a fake democracy because the people can’t hold the officials in the government accountable.

    Brazil had a vast agriculture sector long before Lula became the president of Brazil and the PT party had nothing to do with it. When Lula became president of Brazil, he sold off all of the state owned industries and reformed the pension system in that country. In Brazil only a small percentage of the population get food grants and the amount of money is very small. The middle class grew because of the last twenty years the Brazilian economy grew on the average of seven percent a year.

  32. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 20 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, you should stop trying to put words in my mouth about Brazil. In Brazil, all the members of Congress are elected by the people so, they will vote the way they see fit. The PT party never had control of Congress and this is why Lula had people buying votes from other parties in Congress in Brazil. In SA this would be a normal thing and nothing would be done about it. When Lula’s right hand man was arrested for buying votes, he snitched on everyone else to save him own skin. The right wing press had nothing to do with exposing this story.

    You said that I would admit that the Brazilian Congress want to maintain traditional knowledge. You lost me on that one. You seem to think that anyone that expose corruption in the government is a right winger and not a person looking for a good government.

    In Brazil, all members of the government that have accused of corruption are tried by the Supreme Court in Brazil. It was one of Lula appointees to the Supreme Court that accused Lula of promoting corruption. The president of Brazilian Supreme Court is a black Brazilian and he is far from being a right winger.

  33. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 20 October 2012

    @Yaj, SA is not Brazil so don’t try to compare the two. In Brazil a very small percentage of the population are on family grants and in SA over half of the population are on family grants. SA will not be able to sustain having all of these people receiving family grant because her economy will collapse.

  34. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 20 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, based on your comments, you are the Goebbels for the ANC and you are accusing everyone that don’t agree with ANC policies as enemies. In a democracy people have a right to differ and if Lindiwe wants to join the DA party, that’s her rights and a stigma shouldn’t be attached to her. The majority of the people in the DA party are becoming none white. This is why I told you before that you don’t have a clue what democracy means. It’s good for democracy when the people have a choice instead of listing at the failed policies of the ANC.

  35. ntozakhona ntozakhona 20 October 2012

    Maybe Lindiwe Mazibuko is non white but I am not. I assert my Africaness against the insult you throw of calling us non something. Comparative analysis is an important tool in the development of knowledge and it is baffling that one who is possed with US type of democracy convinently dismisses it.

    Economic growth does not just fall from the skies. A collaborative effort between the goverment and the public sector is needed to achieve economic goals. Brazil was the a world leader in inequality despite the vast resources it had. The Workers Party intervention and the patriotic bourgoisie transformed it into the 8th largest economy in the world.

    Lula did appoint judges that seem to boggle your mind so much. Lula was a bane of attacks on his appointments with some being overuled. He was accussed of corruption. He was ridiculed for his poor working class background and non western manners. I am talking Lula not Zuma.

    I repeat and repeat that it is only the lunatic fringe that include Boeremag that reject the South African constitutional system as undemocratic. Lindiwe has made her choice and shall be engaged on that basis, We shall not call her irrational and undemocratic as we are called but shall freely the poverty of her choices.

  36. ntozakhona ntozakhona 21 October 2012

    Sterling I took time to reread your contributions and responses on this blog. You are contradicting yourself or at best debating with yourself all the way. Again make up your mind before typing. It is just a friendly advice. Coherence is a mark of a sane mind.

  37. Sterling Ferguson Sterling Ferguson 21 October 2012

    @Ntozakhona, I live in Brazil for five years and traveled all over that country. The father of modern Brazil is a man by the name of Vargas. He was the president that built those vast industrial complex in Brazil and removed the control of the government from the land owners. The president before Lula was the president that stabilized the Brazilian dollar and brought inflation under control. The president name was Cardoso and he left office with a booming economy.

    In my opinion a country is not a democracy if the people can’t elected the officials to office and hold them accountable. In Brazil every member of congress is elected from a congressional district by the people and accountable to the people of that district. In SA the people don’t have a clue who is supposed to be representing them.

    The judges that Lula appointed to the courts in Brazil all had to be confirmed by the Brazilian Congress so, they had the right to question these people qualifications. The person that was critical of Lula was the first black judge in the Supreme Court in that country. However, he is far from being a right winger as you might want to call him. In a democracy, you must be able to accept dissent and not try to treat everyone that think different as enemies. Speaking of Lindiwe, I think she is doing a great job for SA and more people should stepup like her.

  38. Nicholasjakari Nicholasjakari 22 October 2012

    @ Yaj

    In my story “The Jonker Memorandum” we do nor speak of “Basic Income Grants” we call it “Basic Pay’ [“Grant me no favours” says Korinth Starr {the Elder}]

    Basic pay is to be financed by a Transaction “Levy”. Originally this was called a ‘Tobin Tax’ after the nobel laureate of that name. It has lately become more fashionable and a short while back Mrs Merkel was calling for its introduction. That all these calls have amounted to nought is an indicator of how powerful the vested interests are that are keeping the idea at bay.

    On the other hand the money being transacted belongs to people not governments and the idea of the State [or States] having a finger in everyone’s money box is a massive lump to chew on. Ideally as i’ve stated before the “levy” should be collected by the Financial Services industry itself to protect citizens from thieving politicians [Obviously a sub-text here is: who is going to protect consumers and investors from the seemingly light fingered Bankers.].

    Also, your mathematics are confused… Collecting even 1% of all transactions would cause financial chaos… Tobin himself and others like Shambrook suggest about .01% … You are neglecting to account for the sheer volume of transactions daily, which can be in the trillions. Further: a larger levy will induce mass defection from the financial system into the [so-called] “shadow banking system” which is already
    huge by all accounts.

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