Times they are a changing

Few can see much light at the end of the tunnel these days. Economic growth rates are dismal.

Add to this the collapse of commodity prices, tax increases and the steady decline of the Rand and, lets face it, Christmas 2015 has already been reduced to a bring and braai. Some even wish they had packed for Perth when they had the chance

Maybe, just maybe, we are sleeping through a revolution in politics. And perhaps meaningful change could be closer than we think.

Lets start with the USA. They are comfortable with the Obama elegance. If he could stand for a third term it wouldn’t be much of a contest.

Last Friday evening I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela at the Rhodes Business School . I suspect most of the crowd of 350 were expecting sensational stuff about Nkandla. The subject didn’t feature. But nobody went home disappointed.

Thuli Madonsela is soft spoken. The arrogance and aggression inherent in today’s politics doesn’t feature. But you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium right up until the standing ovation at the end. Throughout the performance I was thinking, “ South Africa’s members of parliament should be ashamed of themselves. They have turned parliamentary debate into a poor form of Aussie cricket sledging.”

Just a few weeks ago few had even heard of Jeremy Corbyn. Nobody thought he stood a chance of leading the UK labour party. Some say he doesn’t even want the job. Others thought he wouldn’t last one round with David Cameron in Prime Minister’s question hour. But he did.

Corbyn is a modest man. Churchill would have dismissed him with the famous lines ‘he has much to be modest about.’ But Cameron’s yuppie arrogance is suddenly right out of place and things are different. There’s no answer to this tactic. Gandhi proved this when he came up with passive resistance.

The people are sick and bored of being bullied by politicians. This is confirmed in the polls.

Oh yes, I am supposed to write about tax. Well Corbyn did make a bit if a howler by estimating there is 120 billion pounds to be found in the UK attacking base erosion and profit shifting in the UK. He even attacked Vodaphone who haven’t even be accused along with the likes of google and starbucks. ‘Oops’ say the critics. But the masses liked it! Why? Because over the last 10 years the tax burden has been shifting away from corporates and onto individuals.

Imagine if RSA could get on top of tax evasion and corruption. There would be plenty all round, enough to achieve the objectives of the NDP, even with lousy growth rates. But will this ever happen?

Tax evasion and corruption are not going to exposed by inspectors with pencils. But with the imaginative use of computer systems and risk profiling are another matter. The work on this is ongoing. It can and will be done if politicians get behind the process.

So the challenge is actually with the people. If they are going to continue to be politically bullied there is little light at the end of the tunnel. But that tactic is loosing ground. Vote them out and that’s another story.

 

 

 


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