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If I was young, gifted and black

By Clem Sunter

If I was young, gifted and black I would have this to say after last week’s ANC policy meeting in Midrand.

What is it about you guys that makes you cloak everything in dead white Russian speak? I managed to wade through "The Second Transition" on the internet and the language used reminded me of stuff Lenin or Stalin would have used. Calling these ideas progressive is like me saying to my friends that Elvis Presley is the coolest musician ever whilst humming "Teddy Bear" in my blue suede shoes.

Get real. This is 2012 not 1917 and we are in Africa, not the Soviet Union. Even the Russians have moved on now that they realise that most of this socialist yada yada was used to cover up their leaders putting their fingers in the cookie jar. I want an African solution to our problems not a discredited one from the northern hemisphere. After all, you are the ANC with the emphasis on the word "A".

Talking of solutions, what would I have wanted out of your bash last week (and my answers are not going to cost you R45m)? Firstly, as a young person, I want a better education system for which you are entirely responsible. I do not want handouts, I want to gain the knowledge and skills which will allow me to be self-sufficient and choose whatever career I wish bearing in mind my own strengths and weaknesses. I may even want to become an entrepreneur and start my own business. In other words, I don’t want to be an employee of yours or anybody else’s. I will do my own thing and have other employees working for me. Why should you deny me the opportunity by denying me a decent education? The last thing I am going to do is spend my life grovelling in front of politicians so that I can stay alive. I want it my way, not yours.

I would have liked the delegation from each province to have pledged that they would improve a specific number of schools every year in their domain. They would be held to the targets that they set. Conferences without measurable outcomes are useless exercises in hot air. Get your own house in order before offering opinions on what others should do in theirs.

Secondly, I would have hoped for a radical shift towards deconcentrating our economy. All you offered was further concentration in state hands. What makes you think that you are better at spotting commercial opportunities and making money out of them when you have never personally started a business in your life? Look at your current record of managing key assets with your deployed favourites. We need much greater economic democracy where entrepreneurs - the guys who really can spot an opportunity and turn it into a commercial reality - are given a proper shot at success.

Why don’t you consider a basic investment grant as opposed to a basic income grant? Entrepreneurs don’t like borrowing money at any interest rate given the chance of failure. They need equity finance and you can provide it.

Thirdly, and lastly, please get your act together. Can you imagine how the pupils in a school would feel if the teachers spent their time away from the classroom having a row over who the principal should be in the common room? They would feel utterly let down. You guys must stop having leadership contests and settle down to governing this country in a way that gives young people like me hope that there is a future here.

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