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  • on 13.11.2013
  • at 04:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

Shameless Self Promotion: T.O. Molefe makes New York Times debut 0

The New York Times gave us swivel-eyed loons like Nicholas KristofTom Friedman and humility tsar David Brooks. But we’re forgiving people at AIAC and despite this we let them borrow the Rt Hon T.O. Molefe to show them how it’s done. One of two dozen new “international” columnists, he made his debut on The New York Times website yesterday and has been a regular at AIAC for some time. We saw plenty of people on social networks congratulating Molefe yesterday.

This is a mistake of course: they ought to be congratulating the New York Times instead. For his first NYT column, he wrote about neoliberal politics in Cape Town, where he lives. Here’s an excerpt:

South Africa’s progress toward realizing the values of social justice and substantive equality embodied in its Constitution has been agonizingly slow. Twenty years ago after this country was reborn after more than three centuries of rampant and institutionalized racial discrimination, it remains mired in economic disparities.

Unfortunately, despite evidence showing that the economy almost tripled in size over the past two decades and inequality worsened, pundits, business leaders and policy makers, including [the opposition Democratic Alliance, which rules Cape Town], continue to insist that growth heals all. It just needs to be made more inclusive, they say.

The solution, they say, lies in deregulating the labor market to get people into jobs — regardless of whether those jobs are secure or allow people to live with basic dignity — and relaxing exchange controls to give South African capital greater global mobility, because it will all trickle down to the poor in the end.

They are wrong. The solutions they propose have been tried elsewhere and have failed. But such arguments are particularly infuriating because they relegate to a side show the goal of remedying the racial and economic inequality created by colonialism and apartheid — those same forces that pushed Ms. Boltney and millions of others to the city’s periphery — out of sight.

Since its rebirth, South Africa’s has had in place the moral and constitutional basis for ending inequality and poverty in the most direct and equitable manner possible: redistributing wealth and income from the rich minority to the poor majority.

But, instead of pressing ahead with this, the country’s leaders succumbed to a false global doctrine that — using the World Economic Forum’s archaic assessments of competitiveness — views the basic human rights protections contained in South Africa’s Constitution and labor regulations as factors that reduce the efficiency of markets. Such egalitarian laws, in this view, prevent the country from competing for foreign direct investment with countries like India and Indonesia, which do not have the same progressive founding ethos of social justice and human dignity.

Rather than acting as champions for the global human rights agenda, South African leaders across the political spectrum keep parroting the false doctrine of growth, deregulation and jobs at whatever cost.

Source: Africa is a country

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