Thursday, 4 July 2013

Broad-Based Black Economic ENTITLEMENT


The chapter before this one I introduce the real meaning and intentions of BBBEE. In this chapter I would like to present the term I coined for BBBEE, namely Broad Based Black Economic Entitlement. defines entitlement as “the right to guaranteed benefits under a government program, as social security or unemployment compensation”. I would like to submit that BBBEE has had unintended consequences in this country, namely fostering a terrible culture of entitlement. People suddenly feel that they are entitled to get things from government even when they are unwilling to do any work whatsoever.

A few years ago my wife and I attended a funeral in Mmakgabetlwane, a village in which she grew up in the North West province of South Africa. We were driving a decent car then and so after the funeral someone who grew up with my wife whispered to her “my friend, please ask Siphiwe to give us tenders as well”. There were a few problems with this statement: First, the lady assumed that the car just had to be mine and not my wife’s car which is an incorrect belief but secondly here was a thirty-something year’s old lady who believed that the only way I could afford to drive that car was if I was benefiting from tenders.

This is unfortunately the unintended consequence of BBBEE – a bunch of people who believe that if they are to succeed there must be someone from somewhere who will come and offer them tenders. This culture of entitlement is so entrenched that many unemployed people in townships are obsessed with registering close corporations solely to benefit from the tender system. This entitlement mentality will cause a person to die in abject poverty and must be discouraged at all cost.

I usually tell a story of someone I knew when I stayed in Orange Farm. He had just been appointed as a local government official in the Municipality. We were talking one day about this culture of entitlement and he basically told me without even blinking that he and his comrades have four to five years in office and therefore they must loot the coffers as much as possible before their time is over. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing. When I told him how disgusted I was with his response, he told me that I must simply get over it because government officials in the Provincial and National offices share the same sentiments. What happened to the culture of selflessness in our country?

My friend you are not entitled to anything in this country. No one is coming to give you tenders; no one is coming to save you from your poverty. No one must give you a bursary; no one must give you a job. I’ve seen a lot of people in Orange Farm and other informal settlements complaining that they have been on a waiting list to get houses from government for 20 years. If you are reading this, please hear me, stop waiting for government, you will wait forever; do something for yourself. I often tell people that it is much easier to help someone who has started doing something. Stop planning; stop dreaming; stop promising and simply start.

As the famous Mandoza used to say Uzoyithola kanjani uhlel' ekhoneni which is loosely translated "You will get absolutely nothing if you are just sitting there and doing nothing".


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Contrary to popular belief the world owes you absolutely nothing

I was born in a two-roomed house in Mofolo South, Soweto. When I tell most of my friends now that I grew up in a two-roomed house, they often assume I mean a two-bedroom house but no, I actually do mean a two-room house. Most houses in Soweto are two-bedroom houses with a lounge and a kitchen so even amongst the poor people of Soweto, our neighbourhood was the poorest. For a very long time there was a huge open space next to our small neighbourhood until in the mid-1990s someone decided to build new, “bonded” houses in that open space. I had never seen such beautiful houses in my life; they were big and really looked amazing.

I was in my teens when the new occupants moved into their new homes. I had never seen so much hostility directed at a people in my entire short life. The people who stayed in the “new houses” as they were called were ridiculed, ostracised and were made to feel guilty for buying houses in a beautiful neighbourhood with their hard-earned money. Most people in our neighbourhood almost felt like these people owed them something; how dare they move into our neighbourhood and display so much opulence when we were dying in poverty?

My friend, if you still think like this, you must change your thinking; contrary to what you might think nobody owes you anything. If you are to succeed in life, it is up to you and nobody else. Those people in the “new houses” did not owe us anything, it was not their fault that we were poor and they should never have felt guilty about their achievements. I really love this statement by Bill Gates: ‘If you are born poor it is not your fault but if you die poor it is”.

I now stay in a good area that looks far better than the “new houses” which were next to my neighbourhood in Mofolo South, Soweto. Approximately five kilometres away from my home there is an informal settlement. I often witness the hostility some of the people who stay in this informal settlement have towards me and my neighbours. I can tell that somehow some of them feel that we owe them something. Somehow they feel that we must offer them jobs, money, food or something and I can see it in some of their eyes that they feel they are entitled to get these from me and my neighbours. According to the South African Police Service (SAPS) officials in our area, most of the burglaries in our area are committed by our neighbours from this informal settlement. This does not surprise me at all, in fact this was the thinking when I was growing up in Mofolo South, some people felt that they must go and steal in the “new houses” because they “owe us”.

Unfortunately many people who believe that the world owe them something will never get out of poverty until they change that mind-set. Until you own something, you cannot change it. If you believe that the reason you are not losing weight is because of your family genes, you will never lose the weight (note to self). 

My friends please get this and get it now: nobody owes anything in this world; if you are going to succeed it will be because of you and nobody else.