ANCYL should heed Mbeki’s warning – politicians and the persuit of wealth

February 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

In the last week we have been reading newspaper reports about Julius Malema’s two houses which are worth a cool R4.6 million and cars worth R1.2 million on a reported monthly salary of R20 000. Since he is a politician people are curious to find out how he was able to accumulate this wealth. He is not a member of parliament and is not obliged to disclose. According to Sunday newspaper reports such as the Sunday Times, City Press and others, he is able to pay for his lifestyle because of a stake he has in certain companies which have been awarded government tenders worth R140 millions.

We should not question the fact that he has been able to accumulate his wealth, what should be questioned is the manner in which the tenders were awarded. Was the tendering process fair? This is not to say that his companies did not deserve them, rather, was the process legitimate? Those are the question that need asking. Like anyone else he has the right to make money. If there is nothing wrong with the manner in which the contracts were awarded then we can sit back and applaud his business acumen, if however there is something not so kosher we have every right to know and demand answers.

We should not however jump to conclusions that they were awarded improperly simply because we don’t like the guy, or assume that he can’t accumulate wealth simply because he got a G at Woodwork.

Having said that, I would like to point out to an address by then president Thabo Mbeki at the Nelson Mandela Lecture, 29 July 2006, where he discussed the dangers of the new money chasing society we have become accustomed to. It has to be said that this is a system he helped create even if it was unintentional on his part. I quote from the next paragraph his prophetic warning…

He says, “Thus, everyday, and during every hour of our time beyond sleep, the demons embedded in our society, that stalk us at every minute, seem always to beckon each one of us towards a realizable dream and nightmare. With every passing second, they advise, with rhythmic and hypnotic regularity – get rich! get rich! get rich!

“And thus has it come about that many of us accept that our common natural instinct to escape from poverty is but the other side of the same coin on whose reverse side are written the words – at all costs, get rich!

In these circumstances, personal wealth, and the public communication of the message that we are people of wealth, becomes, at the same time, the means by which we communicate the message that we are worthy citizens of our community, the very exemplars of what defines the product of a liberated

South Africa.

This peculiar striving produces the particular result that manifestations of wealth, defined in specific ways, determine the individuality of each one of us who seeks to achieve happiness and self-fulfilment, given the liberty that the revolution of 1994 brought to all of us.

In these circumstances, the meaning of freedom has come to be defined not by the seemingly ethereal and therefore intangible gift of liberty, but by the designer labels on the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the spaciousness of our houses and our yards, their geographic location, the company we keep, and what we do as part of that company.

In the event that what I have said has come across as a meaningless ramble, let me state what I have been saying more directly.

It is perfectly obvious that many in our society, having absorbed the value system of the capitalist market, have come to the conclusion that, for them, personal success and fulfilment means personal enrichment at all costs, and the most theatrical and striking public display of that wealth.

What this means is that many in our society have come to accept that what is socially correct is not the proverbial expression – “manners maketh the man” – but the notion that each one of us is as excellent a human being as our demonstrated wealth suggests!”

To read the complete speech click here

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§ One Response to ANCYL should heed Mbeki’s warning – politicians and the persuit of wealth

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