Letter: Appropriating pensions, assets puts the economy at risk - The Mercury

1 July 2020 - Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni’s calls for pension funds to be used to fund government expenditure is noted with great concern.

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni’s calls for pension funds to be used to fund government expenditure is noted with great concern.

In last week's emergency budget, Minister Mboweni seemed to place the government’s hopes for an economic recovery on massive new state expenditure.

In its response to the budget, the IRR noted that not only had government policy over the past 10 years of economic lockdown placed South Africa on the verge of a debt crisis, and that Minister Mboweni took no concrete steps to remedy this dangerous situation, but that it was clear the government planned to expropriate the assets of hard-working South Africans to fund desperate and wrong-headed policies.

When, a year ago, the IRR identified the seizure of pensions, savings, and assets as the likely policy avenue of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP) – putting the economy and the finances of millions of South Africans at risk – such warnings were dismissed by many commentators and pundits who failed to grasp the ideological commitments of the ANC. The proof of the cupcake seems to be in the eating, however.

Since the IRR first warned of the government’s ideological intention to appropriate pensions and savings for government spending, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, President Cyril Ramaphosa and now Finance Minister Tito Mboweni have made clear their support for this strategy as a means of saving the government from its own failures.

Making the taxpayer pay time and time again for government failures is nothing but a new form of state capture.

Said IRR Deputy Head of Policy Research Hermann Pretorius: "The problem with the ANC's socialism is that they've run out of taxpayer money to spend. Over the past 10 years, the South African taxpayer has been exploited and bullied into paying for everything from firepools to a national airline that is now little more than a national embarrassment.

At a time when the government should be focusing on implementing policies that have a proven track record of stimulating growth and alleviating poverty, the ANC marches to the chant of the SACP: left, left, far left, left, left.”

No-one should be fooled as to what is now happening and what will soon play out: the ANC and the SACP’s belief in a centralised command economy is so integral to everything this government has done and intends to do that South Africans should understand the deep-seated antagonism this government harbours for private property, prosperity, economic freedom and the private sector.

An enormous blame game is about to play out. Those who argue that the surest way to fight the scourge of poverty is to protect livelihoods and property rights, help small business to succeed and grow jobs will be vilified and blamed for everything from Covid-19 deaths to an anemic economic recovery after Covid-19.

People of all races who want to own what they’ve worked hard to earn will be painted as heartless capitalists who are neither compassionate nor patriotic. But no-one should be fooled by this ideological character assassination of millions of decent South Africans.

There is much turmoil ahead and much hardship, and with such hardship will come increased societal tension. But South Africans must know that it was not the homeowner, the farmer, or the small business owner – black or white, Indian or coloured – who plunged the country into crisis.

Just as the government will now use the life savings of decent and hard-working people of all races to launch a desperate effort to save itself from the harsh judgement of the electorate, so it will seek to have South Africans blame one another for the failures of the 10 years of economic lockdown of a government that couldn't even side with its people amidst great crisis.

Hermann Pretorius, Institute of Race Relations