Beware of the angry poor

High unemployment and empty promises from government have created a volatile population prone to violent protests.

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This was the opinion of speakers at the TAU SA congress held in Pretoria recently. Economist Mike Schüssler said the jobless generation is upon us. “Only four out of every 10 adults in SA have jobs. This makes people poor and angry, and although it is no excuse for crime, it’s something that must be addressed or it will make doing business difficult,” he said.

Not enough

“We’ve averaged 3,4% growth since 1950, but we won’t get there during the next five years,” said Schüssler. “This percentage is not enough to create large-scale employment.” TAU SA general manager Bennie van Zyl said the Lonmin strike was an example of how the prevailing over-emotional mentality could so easily escalate into violence. “The question is in what way the high expectations and promises that the ANC has made, and which cannot be fulfilled, created this climate,” said Van Zyl.

No evidence
TAU SA president Louis Meintjes asked whether the police would be able to handle a situation where a Marikana-like crowd invaded private agricultural land and demanded that the owners leave and sign the land over to them. He said that a scenario such as this made it even more imperative for farmers to organise themselves into farm watches.

Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of development at Solidarity, said that disputes over farm worker wages were often given as the reason behind farm attacks, but there was no evidence to support this. “I can tell you where Nathi Mthethwa [minister of police] gets these statistics from: his left thumb,” said Hermann.

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“Government makes it look like the farmers deserved to be killed on their farms.” Referring to threats by government to chase Afrikaners out of SA, Meintjes said: “We stole nothing and owe no one anything. We fulfil our responsibility in this country. The Van der Merwes are not going anywhere, we won’t be bullied.”