As grotesque neon-light signboards shout their messages out in the darkness of night, the ANC’s signature of their quarter century of rule has been rife in evidence in the first weeks of 2020. No, not the good life of liberty that the movement had promised, but the embrace and celebration of rampant incompetence.
Nowhere was that more obvious than:
in the jubilation about matriculation results;
when senior well-decorated police officers didn’t know their right from their left at the funeral of Richard Maponya;
in both the presentation of and applause for the platitudes in Pres. Ramaphosa’s ‘January 8 speech’.
Matric results: better outcome than Bantu education?
The heated debate between proponents of property protection and those in favour of confiscation (expropriation without compensation) has been characterised by a lack of data and waged mainly on ideological and emotional arguments. The lack of an acceptable factual basis is evident in:
Government, AgriSA and Afriforum operating with different figures for categorising land ownership according to race;
The number of farms on the list for the first round of expropriation. (If there was such a list).
Uncertainty about the number of recipients of free subsidy houses (where transfer of title has not taken place) and how these properties should be counted.
Arguments that expropriation would kill the economy simply being countered with promises that the economy would not be harmed.
At the public consultations the facts applied were almost always derived from (and limited to) local situations and narratives with no or little attention to systemic information. EOSA therefore analysed last year’s WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index (as part of our enterprise research on relevant data and statistics) to assess whether there are some global indicators to inform the debate. Several significant correlations are evident from the WEF data:
Highly competitive countries have strong protection of property rights.
High per capita GDP goes hand-in-hand with property rights.
Poor policing and high cost of crime for businesses are not characteristics of highly competitive countries.
Pres Ramaphosa’s announcement that four special ambassadors – including well respected Trevor Manuel – are to roam the globe in an aggressive pursuit of foreign investment “… like a pack of lions”, appears to be premature. It would have helped these ambassadors if they could have had a better story to tell than one of a business environment with stagnating profitability and growing losses where:
only 25% of firms have earned sufficient to be liable for company tax;
firms with a taxable income below R10 million decline at a rate of 31 per week;
a mere 635 companies are responsible for 77% of company tax;
from 2009 to 2015 company losses as submitted to SARS increased by 85% and for the last two years were higher than the taxable income assessed.
SARS data for tax years 2009 to 2015 (for the latter 95.4% of company tax returns have been assessed) as indicators for the health of the South African enterprise landscape, show the business devastation of the Zuma administration (5 with Motlanthe and 4 with Ramaphosa as deputy). This administration, responsible for mismanaging the macro-environment and overseeing the collapse of the police force and education quality and a rise in crime and corruption, critically damaged the enterprise environment.