Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A Different Way of Thinking.

By Robin Hind

A foundation for political strategy in South Africa is the "redistribution of land ". This is a racist tactic intending that land ownership be moved to Black-Africans from White-Africans.[i] This clearly has enormous implications to the national economy and internationally, with grotesque precedents in countries such as Zimbabwe.

Revelations about the failure of land distribution which has already occurred. The key politician in the "redistributed” is the Minister Of Rural Development and Land, Gugile Nkwinti whose confession about these “repossessions” was reported in the (Johannesburg) Times, 3 March 2010.

He said: "The Department has purchased going concerns and because they were going concerns, there was always that hope that they would continue to produce. The reality is that that has not happened.

"We have not talked about the revenue that the state has lost because farms totalling 5.9 million hectare, which were active in accruing revenue for the state, were handed over to the people. And more than 90% of those farms are now not functional. They are not productive and the state loses revenue. We cannot afford to go on like that"

Said another way, government simply had not thought of, or provided for that contingency.

This is a confession of the total absence of financial planning and control, and is a culpable defect, only revealed because the Minister does not have the insight to realise that he is exposing this gross incompetence.

He says “these farms were handed over to “the people” “– This reveals another entrenched Black-African delusionary political stance that “anyone” can run a successful farm, if given land.

A Tragic Loss. Lipton, the largest tea producer in the world, invested in a tea estates in South Africa[ii]. Four million tea bushes were exquisitely cultivated, a delight to see[iii] and a monument to White-African creative endeavour.[iv] When the threats to “repossess” the land were made Lipton simple walked away, abandoning their investment: They were not going to attempt discussion with people who appeared incapable of reason.[v]

Today the estates are entirely overgrown with bug weed, and do not produced one cup of tea. Six thousand four hundred workers lost employment, with a far larger loss of seasonal workers and secondary impoverishment.

On one occasion, after the transfer of the land to government, when it was derelict as a producer, a band appeared, dresses in Communist Red. A short-lived attempt at work on a tiny portion of the estate was soon abandoned.

Shortly after these Black-Africans held a placard demonstration saying that they had “Not Been Paid” and demanded income. They have not been seen since.

Europe, give us money, now! In much the same style, having ousted White-Africans from the productive economy of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, President, recently visited Britain in order to "encourage trade and investment with South Africa". In almost the same breath he said that he was "Worried about foreign purchases of land, and that the government would need to step in to stop these foreign purchases".

Is he unable to recognise that these foreign purchases of land are effectively the very "trade and investment" which he is seeking?

No foreign purchaser of productive farmland is going to do so unless assured of a return on investment and the security of ownership. That is what trade and investment is all about.

So the circle turns back again to the “redistribution of land” charade.

For some the penny might have finally dropped. In an ironic parallel many Black nations (but not South Africa) are now inviting skilled White-African farming professionals to re-colonise their lands, and once more take over the responsibility of productive agriculture.[vi] What are the probabilities that these, now productive, lands will be expropriated once they are “going (and profitable) concerns”?

Forcing black squares into round holes. South African Airways had, at one stage, a capable and experienced CEO in the form of the White-American, Colman Andrews. His management and long-term planning for the airline was very successful. However he was subject to a campaign of vilification (all the pointers are that this was because he was White), and eventually he decided that it was not worth the candle, and resigned

South African Airways, in its determination to have a "Black" head of the airline, then appointed Khaya Ngqula as "chief executive officer", a Black -African who had failed several times previously to run other businesses. The result was financial and operational catastrophe for the Airline. His personal assistant resigned saying that she "could not work for somebody who only worked eight hours a month". One reason was that Ngqula spent his time earning directors fees on numerous other "Boards of Directors". Since he showed no capacity for, commitment to, or conscientiousness towards managing South African Airways one can only speculate on his useful contribution to these other businesses.

Khaya Ngqula was ultimately accused of mismanagement and given “Special Leave” in February 2009. After Ngqula’s very costly dismissal Chris Smyth, a White-African, was appointed as "acting” chief executive officer. He had been CFO with Virgin Nigeria, and assisted the financial turn-around of Kenya Airways. The airline improved dramatically, successful financially and operationally. He could easily have been left in place, but once again the obsession with replacing him by a Black-African prevailed.

Smyth was replaced in March 2010 by Siza Mzimela a black woman with some experience in the small SA Airlink. She had significantly less experience than

Smyth and had inferior formal qualifications.

I want a Magic Porridge-Pot. These shenanigans reveals an attitude, seemingly general, if not universal, amongst black Africans politicians, which holds that a "going concern" it will continue to run, as if by magic, whoever owns it, or whoever is CEO. All that is necessary is to wrest it away from the previous owner/ CEO, and the benefits will continue to flow into the new owner’s coffers.

Such is the naive blindness to understanding and a lack of appreciation that "going concerns" operate successfully only because of the sustained endeavour of extraordinary capable people.

Where is responsibility? A variation of the above viewpoint is that these innocents believe that Black-Africans only have to be given a “title”, and parody the role, to summarily become capable of fulfilling that role. These puerile politicians imagine that very ordinary Black-Africans have only to be slotted into office, after which they will receive a supernatural gift, allowing them to instantly emulate the pioneering creative successes of the past, the product of highly selected and extra-ordinarily capable White-Africans.

A bleak outlook for the future. Fort Hare University was created by White-Africans in 1916, and paid for by White-Africans, in their attempt to educate Black-Africans. Graduates who owe gratitude to those White-Africans include Nelson Mandela (expelled but completed his degree at Witwatersrand) and Robert Mugabe.

Research has subsequently been conducted at Fort Hare seeking to clarify the reasons for Black-African students entering tertiary education, and the way they intended structuring their future careers.

The overwhelming attitude of the undergraduates was that by having gained admission to university they needed to do nothing further. Their perception was that, having crossed the barrier of Matriculation from school, all that was now required from them was to act and behave like "students".

Arising from this (perhaps inevitably) have been the demands of "pass one pass all". The students believed that every student should be passed automatically. The next level of demand was for free tertiary education, universal to all. To emphasise the fine points of their arguments this week, on many campuses in South Africa, the South African Student Congress went on “strike” throwing rocks and burning objects.

The National President, Mbulelo Mandlana declared that the funding must come from a new tax on companies.

Simply, they do not know that they do not know.

Robin Hind

[i] This is not the occasion to counter the over-laboured and monotonously repeated fallacy that “White- Africans stole these lands and must now return them to the ‘original owner’”. It will be addressed in later posts.

[ii] Further information:

[iii] http://www.panoramio.com/photo/15223067

[iv] The land was rented at a nominal cost from the government, because of the high costs of developing the difficult terrain the very large investment in equipment and ongoing inputs. The great benefit was primarily to the nation, by saving import costs, and (mainly) as an employer of the local Black-Africans.

[v] Other reasons included the low productivity of Black-African workers, such that the wage bill was 85% of turnover (!), and the South Africa cost per unit tea produced was eight times higher than in Sri Lanka.

[vi] Mozambique, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Nigeria,

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