State capture shockwaves: From the ‘missing middle’ to the ‘missing many’

2018-09-14 00:55

One must ask how years of corruption and looting is affecting the South African youth.

A significant number of the country’s population is under the age of 25. They seem to face a future of little or no hope.

How can anyone who benefited or still benefit from illicit deals look the youth in the eye and say that their crooked ways brought a new deal for the youth?

Deprived of tertiary education opportunities

Some sources say that R100 billion was lost due to state capture. Past and present commissions of inquiry could add another R500 million or more to the state capture invoice.

State-owned enterprises seem to think that the feeding troughs are still overflowing.

If one accepts a number of R100 billion as the final cost of state capture and if one selfishly assumes that said evaporated funds could have been used to pay for tertiary education, then 2.7 million of South Africa’s youth are deprived of a tertiary education thanks to a rotten few.

Possible impact on the “free education” mantra

Given that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is already under pressure to fulfil commitments for the 2017 and 2019 academic years, where will the funding for 2019 come from? Stopping the tide of state wastage is not going to happen overnight.

Second, the tax base is already so overloaded that there is little or no room to left to milk already thin tax cows.

Clearly, the state cannot borrow itself out of a very deep pit anymore – especially when there is a very slim chance to avoid another credit downgrade.

Call to accountability

The state owes the youth an answer. For a long time, they were told that other factors were the reason why they were deprived of access to tertiary education opportunities.

Now that the ugly truth has shown the tip of its very ugly horns, who will the state blame?

As the facts emerge, there very little room to hide. It is very clear that the clever tales spun by Bell Pottinger are being exposed for what they were.

Moving forward

State capture has evoked emotions and harsh words from many sides.

For the youth of South Africa to regain confidence in the state and its doings, much depends on the rhetoric that is going to play out over the next couple of months.

It will be counter-productive for the state not to acknowledge the fallout of state capture and not to take harsh steps against the culprits.

Since state capture has deprived many of a better economic life, we can no longer talk about the missing middle. It becomes more a case of the missing many.

And, for the next 30 years or more we have to look today’s youth in the eye, explaining what could have been among many “should haves”.

Peter van Nieuwenhuizen is chief financial officer of the Growth Institute, a private college offering a range of commercial, tourism and hotel management programmes.

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May 24 2020