FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: What is the South African agenda?


If the anecdotes about whites voting for the ANC because they believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa is “good for business” are true, then the ANC is up for a hectic further five years.

For one thing, being “good for business” is not necessarily the same thing as being “good for the economy”, even less so for the greater good for the greater number.

Before anyone thinks I am another sentimental communist who hates business, let me set the record straight: there is a role for private enterprise in South Africa.

The state will not adequately address the challenges of poverty, inequality and joblessness without ramping up entrepreneurship. The state simply does not have the resources necessary to provide the changes that South Africa needs to get where it needs to be.

The problem is therefore not with “being good for business”, it is how this tallies up with being “good for workers” given that the ANC is in an alliance with a trade union federation, Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.

Another reality of South African life is that there are many times when what is good for white South Africa is not necessarily what is good for black South Africa, or immediately perceived to be so. Take employment equity, black economic empowerment or land reform.

To be fair to the ANC, it has always had to balance the various and sometimes radically competing interests. It is truly a broad church.

It will, however, be made a little harder this time because of the likes of Ace Magashule who are openly hostile to the idea that President Ramaphosa’s personal brand contributed to the ANC surviving what was its toughest election ever.

All of these things bring us to the key question of what is the South African agenda? It is one thing to have a white and black agenda, or a workers and bosses agenda, but until South Africa gets a leader who can spell out and rally the nation around a common agenda, the country will remain stuck in its quagmire.

The next leader of South Africa (note I did not say president or head of state) will be that man or woman who will be able to articulate what it means to be a South African and what the greater good for the greater number of South Africans is.

If such a leader also happens to be a politician, great - but it is not a requirement. Besides, politicians have not exactly covered themselves in glory when it comes to creating a nation.

The nature of leadership is that in the crafting of such a national consensus, some feelings will be hurt and egos bruised.

Those interested in forging a common nationhood will have to learn to not think of their interests in isolation of the common good. Another thing, we must not fool ourselves into thinking that this will be achieved by one person or even by one generation.

But someone must get the ball rolling. Hopefully, the chat in the next voting queues will not be about who is good for business, or for whites or blacks, but who is good for the good of South Africa.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.