The Daily Maverick Gathering in collaboration with Nando’s and Eyewitness News was nothing short of insightful and shocking. Let me start by saying that while a conference on democracy is always a good idea. A conference in Sandton at R2000 is simply not. As part of the Youth I find it crazy to think that whilst we dominate the statistics, we are not included in conversations like these. After Sizwe Mpofu Welsch performance, the youngest speaker was over 40.
I don’t blame just the organisers alone, this is more a look into society that the have-nots are the biggest audience, biggest voting block, biggest opportunity and yet time and time again we are excluded, forgotten or just brushed aside. As a nation we need to do more to build more access.
Nonetheless, moments that stood out for me have to be the four ANC keynote speakers that pulled out of the event at the last moment. Namely Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Lindiwe Sisulu, Cyril Ramaphosa and Zweli Mkhize. I wasn’t even surprised because that’s how the ANC rolls right? Overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t get me wrong, this is not another attack at the ANC that will be met by retaliation, thinking I’ve been sent by Abelungu. Magoa a tenna, you and I both know that, but we will get to them later. The focal point is to break down numerous issues that stood out for me at the event that I hope will evoke a sense of urgency for us to do something and make you aware of the repercussions of leadership shortcomings.
Dr Makhosi Khoza’s words are still imprinted in my mind when she said that ‘’Corruption is not a victimless crime.’’ She couldn’t have said it more accurately because the damage done by #patronage and #statecapture is colossal. The lack of moral vision and ethical leadership has deeply affected the economy. All the money that is supposed to be invested in education takes a U-turn and falls into the pockets of friends, the politically affiliated and corrupt leaders alike. My dream was, and still is to go to University and attain a Journalism Degree with the sole purpose of dismantling injustices perpetuated by those in power and be a representative for the helpless. However as long as those who are corrupt remain in power, this dream, like a million others, will remain a dream to us. We constantly have to take short cuts, back doors and compromise to get close to the dream. All the parliamentary Gucci shoes, fireproof pools, luxury cars and lavish expenditures could be sending every poor black child to university. Educated enough to ensure and restore economic emancipation. If we are not empowered enough, how will we follow the right measures to acquire our land back, to ensure that black people have access, a fair share and influence on our resources. Corruption is indeed an enemy of black people’s progress. How did these leaders get to be an enemy to their own kind?
Furthermore, living in South Africa at the moment feels like living in a pyramid, with ordinary citizens at the bottom scourging for the scraps that the leaders at the top throw at them. Social grants recipients feel the most pain, as they go for months without receiving their government aid. More so, I would like to quote Mmusi Maimane when he said “we need to fix the state so that the Youth can have an interest in working in governance, and they currently have no interest at all, and that shouldn’t be the case.’’ We deem it as a place where moral decadence is the order of the day, where corruption and adequate service delivery to the normal citizen is underwhelming. We choose instead to express ourselves in song and drown our frustrations in substances every other day, in an attempt to numb ourselves from the struggles of our era that just don’t make sense. I am writing this because I feel that we have a responsibility as young people to voice out, blog about, speak out and express our disappointment in what South Africa is today. For what will be left for tomorrow when we lead? How will we be any different if there won’t be anything to lead? When it is our time to lead, what will there be when all those who are the beneficiaries of looting and white monopoly capital would have got what they want? A point where South Africa will have nothing left to give. And as ordinary civilians we will all be left in shame and poverty – lacking a foundation to build on.
One of my biggest take outs from the event is that we need to understand that Zimbabwe’s economic status quo did not happen overnight. It all seemed like a joke, the same way that South Africa is spearheading. A fluctuating economy, self-gain and greed of political leaders, state owned institutions and services dilapidating. We have a perfect reference point down the border, on how our current President could have corrected the errors of other African leaders, but South Africa is worse than when the current leadership found it. If we tumble down the drain, we are tumbling with an education that is quantitative but not qualitative, with degrees that translate to nothing in a jobless state. This makes me echo Dr Makhosi Khoza’s phrase that is still woven into the fabrics of my mind, that ‘’there is no dignity in unemployment.’’ People get reduced to nothingness when they are not working, not able to provide for their families, leading people to depression and low self-esteem.
I am also pleased that the issue of ageism was addressed, although not fully. I believe that there is suitable and qualified Youth who should be taking up active leadership roles and dominating the parliament. A Youth that has a good grasp on sound policies to transform our country. And the fact that old civilians who should be at home playing with their grandkids full time are running the parliament is disturbing.
Furthermore, triggered by a female guest’s comment in the audience, she pinpointed how women still lack substantial representation. I have observed undertones of patriarchy in the system. How did we arrive at a point where ‘’flavoured condoms that don’t make noise’’ are much of a priority than a young girl’s sanitary towels. Tell me why sanitary towels in this day and age are still not free to all the young girls that cannot afford them? The ruling party and opposition alike in my view only want our votes when it is that time of the year, our voice when we speak against those who threaten their looting or capitalism? Again How SWAY? How do we cautiously choose people who have our best interests and have great foresight for our nation?
The only way to move forward in my view, is to take heed of Mavuso Msimang’s words which essentially echoed the sentiments of the numerous that took to the stage. He emphasised that “state capture should be taken very seriously, and we should hold the people that we swore in to accountability no matter the cost.’’ Mr Msimang went on to accentuate the importance of having a code of ethics that leaders should adhere to instead of having an individual running, hiring and dismissing who they see fit in an unconstitutional way.
Considering that we declare South Africa to be a democratic state, this shouldnt even be an issue. The former Minister of Finance in Zimbabwe Tendai Biti was a keynote speaker and couldn’t help applauding the South African Constitution and Judiciary system. Drafted and implemented so beautifully. But I fail to understand how it fails to make the corrupt weak on the knees.
So we cannot let them lead us anymore, and THEM in this context is inclusive of all the corrupt politicians who regard themselves as our leaders. As Bantu Holomisa said “… the problem started when they believed that they are our masters, when in true essence they are our servants elected to serve us. And it is time for the civil society to lead us.” We need people who have our struggles and needs at heart, people who will serve us and lead us to the ‘Promised Land’. I am a representative of every black child who has been hindered to fully reach their potential and we will not rest until we hold the faulty accountable!
And in the words of Julius Malema who was robust in expression “We must generate a new form of democracy, voters must exercise their power … voters must know the power they have. ’’ Therefore it is the time for the people to lead, we know the problems and how we plan to solve them. I am craving that Martin Luther King leadership, that Thomas Sankara and Steve Biko kind. Leadership which was only about the people. In my observation they have all failed us; anyone who will come after the current leadership will just preach the same gospel. We are sickened by having our country captured right under our nose, having the minority owning the greater fraction of wealth and the most corrupt running our law enforcement. In the end the black person feels the biggest pinch.
In the words of Pravin Gordhan “the majority have no assets; people have nothing tangible to pass on to their kids except poverty.” How do you think it makes us, the Youth, feel that we are still in the same place as we were in 1994 and we are going nowhere fast? So in conclusion I say corruption will fall, #statecapturewillfall, #whitemonopolycapitalwillfall, #ageismwillfall, #patriarchywillfall and the PEOPLE will rise, the BLACK child will rise…
THEY CANNOT LEAD US ANYMORE!
Written by Gugsie (Umuzi Copywriting Recruit)
Compiled by Mikey Mashila
Why the matric pass rate is important
What do South Africa’s poor education outcomes mean for all of us?
Education is something that many of us take for granted. Unfortunately it isn’t for the majority of South Africans. Our education system has very poor outcomes. Few who start school leave with a good education. It’s sad to see so much wasted potential, but how does it really affect us as a society?
We know that the overall level of education in a country is an important determinant of its prosperity. I don’t just benefit from my own education, but from the education of those around me. It’s possible for most of us to empathise with individuals who fail or drop out. They often end up in dead-end jobs, or worse, unemployed. We can imagine how tough life is for them and their families. But it’s difficult to get a sense of what this means for the country overall. It’s harder to imagine, so here’s a little story to help.
Imagine you are among a class of 20 entering grade one. This class is special. It represents all the grade ones starting school in South Africa in a particular year. In your mind, keep imagining this class of 20 throughout the example, sitting behind their little desks. I’ll keep you posted on the actual numbers in brackets (there were 1,208,993 little people who started grade one in 2016, according to the Department of Basic Education).
Now fast forward to grade twelve. Unfortunately, only 58% of those entering grade one made it this far (704,533). Fortunately, you are one of only 12 in the class who started the final year of school, and one of 9 who actually wrote the final, matric exams (roughly 520,000).
It’s you and your 9 peers who eagerly anticipate their final school results. We could be in for a surprise, but based on previous years’ performances, the cards will fall something like this:
Of the 7 who pass, there’s a range of achievement:
You’ve made it out of school and been accepted into a university. Now it’s time to focus on your degree.
Unfortunately, the culling doesn’t end here. After the first year, of the 7 of you in higher education, half drop out due to financial strain, or simply not being able to cut it as school inadequately prepared them for further study. These dropouts are in a state almost worse than those who failed matric. They have the additional burden of student debt for their failed year of higher education.
3 of you manage to stick it out and graduate. You’re the lucky 15% from the starting class of 20 who graduate. And you’re the only 1, the 5%, who managed to get a university bachelor’s degree. You’re the successful outcome from the education system.
Now some good news, although South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is very high, graduate unemployment is low. Nearly everyone with a degree gets a job (75% in July – September 2016, according to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force). So you find a job and start work. Let’s say your 2 other grade one classmates, who graduated with diplomas or higher certificates, also manage to get jobs, which makes 3 of you, in total, entering the workforce.
Let’s imagine that, on average, the 3 of you get jobs paying R10,000 per month. That’s not bad for an entry-level salary. You’ll pay minimal tax on this (R675 per month). But you’re young, full of potential, and soon to be promoted. Everything will work out, right?
What does a public education cost?
You’re one of the lucky ones who succeeded in and benefited from the education system. But what did your education cost the government, and the taxpayer?
Thus, in total, you are looking at a cost of around R365,000 to educate one learner from grade one to grade twelve, plus three years of higher education. That’s the government’s share. Fees come on top of this.
How long would it take you to repay the government’s cost of your education via income tax?
Public education is heavily subsidised by government through tax revenue. The justification is that if the state helps to educate you, you’ll be in a better position to earn a decent living, contribute to tax, and pay for more government services like education in the future. It’s not so much payback as it is paying-forward. Now that you have a job, it’s time to pay it forward.
Given your good starting salary, and let’s assume healthy promotion prospects (20% annual increase for the first five years, 10% after that, all above inflation), it would take about 10 years of income tax, at current rates, to payback just the cost of your own education. That’s a pretty long time.
Only things are far worse. You’re not just paying back your own education. This is where the overall outcomes of the education system come into play. Only 3 of your grade one classmates are formally employed and paying tax, the other 17 aren’t doing so well.
Half of them are unemployed, barely scraping by, and definitely not paying tax. If anything, they’re receiving support from the government through child grants, public health care costs, etc.
Of the other half, let’s assume none of them are earning much over the taxable threshold and their promotion prospects aren’t good.
So here’s the rub, as there are only 3 of you making significant income tax contributions, you’re going to have to foot the bill. The 3 of you have to pay, not just for your own education, but for the entire next generation’s. That’s fifteen years of education for 20 kids, wait, let’s make that 21, the population has grown since you started school.
How long will that take?
The total government cost of education we calculated was R365,000 for one learner, multiplied by 21 gets to R7,665,000. Divided by the 3 successful taxpayers in our example, means each of you must make an income tax contribution of R2,555,000!
Even with these very generous assumptions for salary increases, it will take over 20 years paying income tax, at current rates, to fund the costs of education. That’s just to pay for education, not to mention all the other costs your tax has to cover.
Our failing education system, with its poor education outcomes, is a fiscal time bomb. If we don’t improve the system so that more people complete school, graduate from university, get jobs, and contribute to income tax, we’re screwed. Those of us who somehow succeeded in the current system aren’t going to be able to afford to educate the next generation, or look after the many people the education system has already failed, unless education outcomes are drastically improved.
For a specific example of how to improve higher education outcomes, read on here.
I made many simplifications, including:
Most of the calculations and links to the sources can be found here.