#FeesMustFall vs Friedman's: The Battle Rages.
Friedman And His ANC
It is 1994. Almost every face is beaming with hope. Hope for a prosperous future. Mandela a national terrorist,turned national hero, in his keynote address to the nation, implies a commitment by his party. A commitment which warranted hope even from an 8-year old, such as myself. Of course at that time, I couldn't vote. I remember that even with the hope, I still could not shake the feeling that something was amiss in the ANC story. I always have been the suspicious type. It is to be noted that my feelings at the time were purely a matter of intuition. The sixth sense. Fast forward to 1996, I recall a morning interview on Ukhozi FM's Abasiki Bebunda(while I was fastening my shoes laces getting ready for school), Mandela was questioned on the failures of the ANC to deliver on most of its promises, especially RDP housing. He responded thus:"abantu bakithi bayazi ukuba isisho sithi, intombi yeshelwa ngamanga...". I was taken aback, yet a voice within said; "I knew it".
As I grew in learning and observation. I started to look deeper into things. I heard and read from the conspiracy theorist, as well as from the intellectual. To me the world started to make sense beyond just my hunch. I read about Milton Friedman and his economic policies on free markets. It hit me like Newton's apple. Of course the ANC had been adopting these policies. The same policies that have failed to work everywhere they have been tested. I had seen the state under Mbeki sell of ISCOR, with thousands losing their jobs, and now I understood why. I saw under Mbeki, the state sell off DENEL(a previously state owned weapons manufacturer). I saw under Mandela the disassembly of the NPA. The National Ports Authority who had built roads, which are still usable to this say. I saw under the Mbeki, rise of the "tenderpreneural" sector, in the same way Russians saw the rise of the Oligarchs. Suddenly Murray&Roberts became a multi-billion rand constructor. I saw under Mbeki the swindling of state coffers by clever white constructors who built shoddy houses in places like Bruntville, Mooi River, then disappeared into thin air. Word is they migrated to Australia. I saw the rise of the Automotive industry. A citi gold which was worth R16000,brand new, in 1995, was now R60000 in 2003. These are some of the major transitions that we saw and ignored at the time. To paraphrase Mcebo Dlamini, the honeymoon phase. We then saw the opening of higher education to all races under Mandela, then later on, the merger of some major institutions the then Education minister Kader Asmal. All the while the education costs we skyrocketing, again unnoticed by the masses.
Well according to the policies of "free markets", education cannot be state funded, i.e. education cannot be free. Even subsidies on such things as bread and milk, is not advisable. The ANC had a problem. It had been instructed to adopt Friedman's policies, but had to do so swiftly and quietly. The Average South African, doesn't even know what the Government Gazette is. How I saw Mbeki sneak these policies in was by ensuring that the social grants we kept at the attractive level. As if to keep the poorest pacified and prolong the honeymoon. We saw all kinds of new social grants under Mbeki. The interesting part about it is, Mbeki was an economist by trade. He started to see the gaping gangrene, in free market policies he had adopted. That's when the NEPAD was born. African Leaders wanted an alternative system. But could not own up to the masses of what they had been busy doing. come 2007, it started to get very clear that Mbeki was starting to hear the call of Vavi to stop privatizing state instruments. Deals were now being delayed. It became clear that he had to go. Don't get me wrong, he needs to sit in that sin-bin and never come back, because we are here because of his own ink.
Enter 2015. Barely a year since Zuma was sworn into office the second time. It was July that we saw the rise of the Student. UKZN at the forefront of all things protest. I remember it was the same even during my day there. The culture of UKZN is that of, "don't let the gangrene set in". So campuses went up in flames, largely unnoticed by the rest of the country. Student leaders were arrested, but fee hikes were reverted. Then come October, Habib shocks awake the entire bourgeois student collective of Wits. A bunch of "better-of" children, who had been okay so far with the yearly fee hikes. Then UCT got the same double figures. And Stellies. The Whole country erupted. Twitter went crazy. The most human of our society came out hiding, in support of the students. Stories of struggling mothers and fathers, now became noticed. The media for the first time, knew who their news are for. We saw headlines morph in minutes. The most black hating and privileged came out of their hiding, with threats of immigration to Australia. The ones among us who were out of touch, finally got the verbal rebuke, they had been missing for decades.
The demand, albeit not new, was very clear. The Students want an education they can afford. An education very close to the promises of Mandela. And because they are awake from the honeymoon, the rest of the country must now awaken. Suddenly, it was very interesting to be alive in SA. The students finally learnt that their issues were universal and warranted coordinated demonstration across the country. The Police finally learned to keep their live ammo back at the station. Never has the conduct of police been under scrutiny, as it is today. To be completed...