Top down economy failing people

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I READ Piet Naude’s column (“Far from non-racial society,” February 4) with interest. I was also quite curious about the “three steps we can take to work relentlessly for the ideal of nonracialisation”.

Yet it is clear from his wording Prof Naude believes that there is more to it.

His steps were “stop skew generalisation”, “work towards a normalised society where affirmative action would not make sense” and “push boundaries of speech freedom in the public domain”. I don’t think these will do the trick while deep structural issues are not resolved.

What about Rhodes University professor Richard Pithouse’s statement that “racism will not be undone until political and economic power are no longer racialised”?

The government has kept the apartheid economic system that was developed around a top down, hegemonic, neo liberal (see NDP), separate planning/ education/ health/ settlement.

The mind-set has not changed a lot either. Like in the past – the goal of many (and most authorities) is to get their children out of township schools, health service and settlement.

Partly also because the services are, for various reasons, still very unequally rendered between the centre and the outskirts of the towns.

One could consider the present economic system like a foreign item in the SA body that will continue festering until it is completely removed.

I am afraid this will endure until the government gets its vision, acts and pride together, and defines an economic system that clearly disengages from the past to work for the people.

A system by the people for the people, which therefore moves away from being hegemonic, top down and condescending.

A system that develops people before capital wherein the planning of education/ health/ settlement will not be made on old established print out, driven by the same global economic players but around new priorities, peoples and a local economic system that respond to local needs by and for the local peoples with the local resources.

A bottom up system that does not place politicians and civil servants on a pedestal, above the masses with large salaries.

An economic system that would permit all the great bottom up ideas (such as the move from “housing to a sustainable human settlement”) to develop. Quite a revolution isn’t it?

I, therefore, wonder if it is realistic to imagine all these bottom up participation processes to happen if we keep the present hegemonic, top down and condescending tendencies.

It is the reason we find many contradictions in government policies and within the NDP.

It is the reason public participation is not real yet. It is why we keep having two different worlds that cannot mix – because one is privileged, lives in its own vacuum and gives instructions to the other.

Do we have a choice after Marikana and the number of displays of discontent that are becoming increasingly violent?

This is the result of a growing disconnect between the government and grassroots issues, which is probably due to a rigid top down system that is unable to cater to grassroots requests.

Why are our local economist experts and academics not promoting Litha (Localisation is the alternative), as it has already been coined? Are they so dependent on the present economic system that they cannot imagine anything else?

Is this country ready to engage on this new journey? I am afraid not. I do not see any manifesto going squarely in that direction.

Numsa might start something interesting for the country, provided that it broadens its focus on the majority’s welfare, as its workers depend on the latter too. It could, therefore, define the project that could bring all these committed people together and that project could be about a local economic system.

Why wait for the rest of the country while the local government could already engage in that matter for the sake of its constituency?

PL Lemercier, Greenshields Park


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