The simpleton's analogy, I suppose, is that of the local bowls club. Now let's say the committee, concerned about their precarious financial position, the decaying greens and clubhouse and dwindling membership numbers, take some tough decisions.
Up go green fees, up goes the price of Bells by 60c a tot (and J&B by nearly a rand), Fred the skip is dropped, tea is no longer bottomless, and members are required to serve behind the bar. Oh, and if your subs are not up to date you face rustication, excommunication and a year in the stocks.
As the Latin saying goes, dura lex sed lex — tough law, but it's the law; tough but responsible and what's needed.
But then there's the issue of Ted, and the other old soaks in the chain gang who sit in the corner of the bar, just past the bell, where old Jimmy used to sit when he was still with us, God bless his soul. Ted (and the others) have no time for Mac, the club president, and the 2011/12 committee, which he thinks is power hungry, political and buggering up the golf club.
In fact, Ted, Barry and the old boys want Mac and committee voted out at the next AGM. Ted has a firm eye on the presidency and has promised Barry the chairmanship should he get in. The members are not happy about the sky-rocketing price of Hansa and that Mac has the president’s parking bay. The new austerity measures and pricing make it a fertile ground for popular discontent. So it's not too hard for Ted and the dissidents to rally the membership before the AGM.
And so Ted holds court over several glasses of Famous Grouse, telling the others that were he chairman, he would introduce the following:
- No committee parking places — it's gonna be first come, first served;
- A bottle of Dewar's will be added to the monthly draw;
- Green fees are halved;
- Amnesty for overdue subs;
- Free morning tea;
- Open access to the committee room;
- Happy hour Tuesdays to Sundays inclusive;
- Daily specials on Jamesons; and
- A webcam installed in the ladies dressing room.
These are very powerful tickets and no doubt enough to sweep Ted and Barry to a landslide AGM victory. Once in, the club will be bankrupt in no time, the greens will look like the Kalahari and Ted and Barry and them will be facing assorted charges. The old committee, of course, can sip on a Johnny Walker and say to the members, "We told you so but you voted them in".
And the same logic applies to the ANCYL and its short-sighted, selfish and destructive rhetoric. The letters that you see on Roman manhole covers these days and that adorned Caesar's army, SPQR, stand for the Senatus Populusque Romanus, meaning the "Senate and People of Rome".
The word populus (meaning people) is the obvious genesis of the word popular and can be used as an adjective in describing the popular bilge that Julius Malema spouts.
The problem is that, like Ted and his putsch of the committee, nationalisation is dangerous but attractive to the electorate. Of course, everyone wants happy hour and free sandwiches on match day. Just as everyone wants to own a bit of FNB, a farm or have shares in Western Deep Levels. And if Julius is offering us that, well then, let's get in there...
Like Ted's subsidised booze, nationalisation is a proven failure; popular but a stuff-up. The shining African case would be Tanzania, where under the urbane Julius Nyerere everything was nationalised and everything went tits up. But it's not only African countries that have been battered: Cuba and many European countries including Britain have done their fair share only to retreat. But in nowhere can it be held up as a resounding success. The old Nats tried it and it almost bankrupted them.
Look at what's happening in Venezuela, run by the icon of the hard-left, the face of glorious anti-imperialism, the post-modern Che, Hugo Chavez, with his so-called worker management of the economy. It's the worst economy in South America. The GDP has shrunk, foreign capital has fled, inflation is the worst on the continent and he has failed with the money he has had to invest in the desperately needed power plants. And now the once populist is probably only supported by 30 percent of the population. So it's gone well then.
Our government has done a responsible, even amazing, balancing act, in doing what it can to attract investment, redress the past and still manage its voters' demands, who would love a wealth tax and a few percent in Absa.
For all his valid points and qualities, Julius's use of this popular bilge is extremely damaging and dangerous. You can virtually hear the suits of London clamming up. If we agree that jobs and education are so important, someone has to pay for it. It's selfish to chase it way for your own power.