Today we are regaled by notions that the state “lacks” capacity to do things. This is then used as motivation for why the state should enter into “partnerships” – chiefly with business - to ensure that things actually happen. So whether it is about education, housing or public services the state must partner with the private sector to ensure houses, schools or toilets.
Economists – who dazzle us with figures - love this kind of argument. So they play with notions such as a fully-functional heath service would cost, say R100b – which the state cannot afford, or only partially afford. So the private sector will have to give the rest in order to make health services possible. But the private sector wants a return on its investment. So for every R100 pent it wants say R150 in return – which means that it, by definition, takes out more than it puts in. “Partnerships” is little more than code for more privatisation of public services and more outsourcing of what should be state functions.
Behind all the talk of the “state has no capacity” is the entrepreneur, the consultant and the mogul seeking new opportunities for making money.
In the last year and a half in South Africa, approximately 40 people involved in protests and strikes have been killed at the hands of the police, including at Marikana. Many more people were beaten, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, arrested and some even tortured. The latest person, unfortunately, to die at the hands of the police was a 17 year old girl, Nqobile Nzuza, who was killed on the 30th of September during a demonstration for housing in Durban. She was shot in the back by the police with live ammunition (in fact her family claims she was shot by the police when she went to see what the protests were about).
A Week in August: Factions in COSATU, Economic Fear Mongering and the State We're In
This article was first published online here:http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/1771
Lenin once said, "There are decades when nothing happens and then there are weeks when decades happen." British Labour Party Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was to similarly explore the vicissitudes of political time when he remarked, "a week was a long time in politics."
It’s too early to say whether the week beginning 12 August 2013 was such a week, as might have been thought of by either the revolutionary Lenin or the reformist Wilson. Yet two events in that week suggest that there were indeed such momentous shifts taking place. These events are the trade union federation, COSATU’s, decision to suspend its General Secretary, Zwelenzima Vavi and the convening of a memorial for the murdered workers of Marikana, one year after the massacre.