Calling South African conservatives…

The concept of conservatism isn’t particularly prevalent in South Africa, and it’s easy to understand why: there isn’t much to conserve. There’s no era of our history which could be called especially “good”, and we’ve yet to experience any span of political and economic cohesion. What is there to hold on to? 

Right-wing politics cannot be detached from the idea that social changes should be prevented from taking place too quickly. In our terms, there’s no room for slowing down. The problems plaguing our country are too grave in nature to require a modest approach. Our reforms must be radical and swift. 

Still, the constant ramblings of left-wing politicians and name-brand, copy-paste socialist parties has become trite. Your options for voting come down to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which is some weird form of totalitarian socialism, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) champagne socialism, or the ANC, who stick to the stereotype of socialist governments by doing nothing but inflating their own pockets and redistributing almost nothing to the poor.

You’d be hard-pressed to convince me that the EFF or DA would be any different, mind you; the red-beret-wearing Army of the Poor have already having been indicted in their own share of corruption allegations, while John Steenhuisen is faced with the gruelling task of trying to hold his party together as its identity falls apart. 

Not everyone wants handouts. The media spins its wheels recycling the mud of the latest racist scandal and “impending” land expropriations and reasons to be mad at Julius Malema, when in actual fact and by survey the biggest worries for South Africans are employment, security and housing. 


It’s understandable: the average South African wants to be able to do an honest day’s work for a good wage. It isn’t an unreasonable expectation. Yet our political parties are more interested in trying to salvage their bankrupt branches and disincentivising foreign investment and private sectors with their lazy rhetoric. 

The left-right political compass is essentially a flawed system, but that doesn’t mean there’s no place for alignment to the simplicities of what we need to address: jobs, wages, economy. A stable economy and access to decent jobs means less crime, it means a growing middle class, and that means incentive for investors to offer bigger and more exciting opportunities to average South African citizens. 

This isn’t a call to dissolve South Africa’s social benefits, but isn’t it time we made space for a call to something else? Social programmes rarely work, and while it would be unwise to leave the down and out out and down, a reliance on state handouts is not the pinnacle of society. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough money in the country to lift every South African out of poverty, and if there was, you’d probably find it in the back pockets of a small handful. That’s why we’d be wise to stop asking for the government to take care of people, and rather ask them to incentivise economic growth, better wages, end their stifling restrictions on private sectors such as mining and (gasp!) airlines and let foreign investment offer jobs to South Africans.

Although he hasn’t accepted labelling for his ideologies, Herman Mashaba’s new Action SA Party is at least calling for the right things: rather than promising to fix everything with an endless pit of tax money, he suggests we fix our broken education system, incentivise investment, bring in jobs, and stimulate the economy so that better wages can be offered. 

I took the time to argue with someone who called him a populist in an insulting tone. I find it funny that giving people what they want is considered unpopular in a democracy. 

Call it right-wing if you want, but the terms are so muddied in our age of politics that it’d probably be a misnomer. Still, we’ve tried leftism for long enough: isn’t it time we embraced something else? 

The current voices for a free market economy in this country have a hard road ahead of them. It isn’t an idea that has circulated in the country for very long. Yet, if we are to turn our economy around, it’s vital that we make it a popular one.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Mail & Guardian.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Angelo Ryan
Angelo Ryan is a South African-based freelance journalist who has covered local and American politics since 2015. He has followed Herman Mashaba since his tenure as Mayor of Johannesburg and has been backing his bid for presidency pending the launch of his party.

Related stories

The demon of cronyism in the public service must be crushed

When employees do not give their best, it is the organisation that suffers the most. In the case of government this directly affects citizens

‘We want to occupy the land,’ says EFF’s Malema at Senekal farm murder protest

The party and AfriForum staged protests outside the magistrate’s court during the bail application by two men accused of killing a farm manager in the eastern Free State

South Africa requires a different vision than the ANC’s

In response to Ryno Geldenhuys’s piece Under Mbali Ntuli the DA would offer South Africans a new political home, published in the Mail & Guardian on 13 October

Under Mbali Ntuli the DA would offer South Africans a new political home

The KwaZulu-Natal MPL, who is running against John Steenhuisen for the post as party leader, embodies the hopes and dreams of the majority of citizens

Steenhuisen remains simply the best

With reference to Eusebius McKaiser “The DA’s next leader should have a diverse political toolkit” (Mail&Guardian, September 23)

ANC’s ‘moral crisis’ will foil W Cape hope

Former premier Ebrahim Rasool says voters will abandon the party until corruption is arrested
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday