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Moseneke issues stern warning on transformation

Feb 27 2017 17:46
Carin Smith

Cape Town - No amount of pleading will create transformation, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke said in his keynote address at the Black Management Forum (BMF) Western Cape's Black Excellence Awards 2017.

"It is time to create new banks and new businesses. We need people with the guts and balls to build something. The future lies in rethinking what grows our economy," said Moseneke.

"We are our own liberators and must go and create our own new things. We must work and create and grow the economy."

He believes it is important for South Africans to go out and implement the things mentioned by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget 2017 speech.

"We must do these things and not just talk about them. For instance, we must tackle the land injustice. We cannot have so many people in informal settlements on the land of their birth, while there is such a lot of land. We must also find ways for people to have access to education and capital," said Moseneke.

"We talk about distribution, but are we talking about the historic cake? We must create businesses. Our mission was to liberate you and your mission is to get off our buts and create businesses. We must create new wealth to create a bigger cake."

READ: Radical transformation dominates SONA: Here are Zuma's 12 mentions

Radical change

For him the concept of transformation signifies radical change, displacing old properties or arrangements with new ones and altering something irreversibly.

"You can never say you are transforming anything if you leave it with the same properties. Therefore, it must be a radical shift from an uneven and unjust past to a present aimed at changing power relations. Our past was full of conflict so we are a post conflict society," said Moseneke.

"SA's constitution was meant to be one that transformed our lives. Our constitution is a moral one. Since 1994 we had a clear vision of where we are going, so we must take stock."

For him the picture emerging after 1994 is not "all about black or all white, all about failure or all success".

"We could have had a big bloodbath and, therefore, we needed ground rules. Our parliamentary system functions. In some parts of the country municipalities function and our courts are independent and effective. We are blessed with a strong labour movement, our press is free, fearless and unbending and we don't have any outright political prisoners. Yes, there is a lot of crime, but we do not have an open civil war," said Moseneke.

"So, our transition has yielded measures of democratic dividend. But as the constitution was negotiated, we never negotiated the means to reach or achieve equality and how to deal with the concentration of productive resources. This was a far reaching omission at the start of the transition.

"Inequality, therefore, survived the transfer of political power. The poor remained by and large poor and reliant on grants and the social distance widened."

In his view, #FeesMustFall makes a point, namely that in the past university education was for the middle and upper classes in society to continue to run businesses of property and commerce. Since 1994, however, many going to university are poor because their parents were poor.

"The question, therefore, is: how do we train our young people to grow the economy? If this is not done, those young people will radicalise and they could slit our throats," said Moseneke.

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