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The State of Credit Capture – Secure in Credit Comfort

The system was designed in such way that we no longer see buying things cash as wise. There’s a credit culture it has created. A culture of having without owning. A culture of borrowing without wanting to borrow. We’re locked up for life. If you think about it, you’ll realise how inhuman this system is.

Look around you. If walls could speak they’ll tell you how the system destroyed family (especially the black family). The family unit has been crushed because the system demands blood, sweat and tears. It needs us to work for credit. Since when was it correct for us to get excited when we qualify for credit? What went wrong?

The system mocks and discards those who can afford to purchase without using credit. It romentise credit and protects those who qualify until they are unable to feed it.

It almost seems and feels weird for one not to be in debt. We have normalised what is abnormal. We aren’t afraid to swim in a pool of debt. Sadly, our wealth creation is in the intensive care unit (ICU) surviving on oxygen drips yet we preach “economic freedom in our lifetime.” We March to banks on Monday for the Apartheid money “they owe our government” and then run to them to get credit on Tuesday morning. We’re trapped in the system.

“Come on in and get a discount when you join us.” – the famous line said by those who are also trapped in the system. The most disturbing reality is that we are beginning to believe in this fable. It’s a hoax! It’s a trap. It’s all lies. Oh, I forgot that we know all that. We know it all. We know that we are captured and “mara re tla reng.”

Step on the corruption scale

Say you were to step on the “corruption scale”, how much do you think you would weigh?

Just like most people, I have a problem with corruption in its diverse forms. In recent years, most of our media reporting has exposed corruption on all levels of government (be it local, provincial or national). Every week we hear of protests and rumours of protests against inadequate service delivery, often the result of corruption in local government.

And whilst a number of municipalities and leaders may be under corruption watch, I have to ask, are we any different to them?

Some 47% of South Africans say they have <a href=”http://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/content/almost-50-s-africans-paid-bribe-last-year” target=”_blank”>paid a bribe</a> in the last year. According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013, securing essential services in South Africa means that a staggering 20% more of our population believes that this is the only course of action compared to the worldwide average of 27%.

What this means is that almost half of the country is participating in some form of corruption to access essential services. Believing ourselves to have no other choice, we pay our way out of trouble.

The barometer also asked respondents how they viewed the extent of corruption in twelve key institutions or categories – from political parties, to Parliament, military, NGOs, media, religious bodies, business, education systems, judiciary, health services, police and civil servants. A 24% increase in perceived corruption in religious bodies – surely the one area in our society that should be above reproach – paints a bleak picture.

Whilst many might debate the real causes behind citizens participating in some form of corruption, one has to consider the impact of historically pervasive disadvantage – a factor that remains to this day.

Take for instance a single, unemployed parent of five children – three of school-going age and two who have completed their education but have not yet found employment. They live in a two bedroomed RDP house and receive a monthly bill of R600 for municipal services, for water, rates and electricity. They’ve accrued a backlog of R25 000 on their account. Failure to pay results in the municipality cutting your electricity and reducing your water supply. As a result many people in this situation resort to paying bribes to municipal officers to reactivate their services. This may seem as an option considering the conditions at hand, however it is another form of corruption and it all starts there.

I encourage us to respect our institutions and make arrangements to pay our debt so that we can root out the influence of corruption in our society.

As a graphic designer, I was recently requested to forge the security certificate required for a tender submission in return for the promised “ke tla go fa ya colie” – the well-known shorthand “cash for a cool drink” that is an invitation to a dodgy deal. I admit I was tempted – until my ethical concerns held out. However, I equally have to admit that I still failed to find the courage to voice my disapproval.

One example most of us are familiar with is that of a traffic officer asking: “What’s in it for me?” It’s a “get out of jail free card”. However, it creates a platform for both you and the officer to contribute towards the advancement of corruption in our society. Like most crimes, corruption should be punished.

The problem with corruption is that it destroys prosperity by doubling the cost of the provision of services or doing business. A corrupt political, civil society, or business leader uses the opportunity to benefit improperly, as insurance for performance of duties.

Such leaders take advantage of their power to harbour resources unto themselves. Corruption has taken hold in all spheres – in both the public and private sectors, and even in religious institutions – that should function as the custodians of our national conscience.

We must hold corrupt officials accountable for their actions – even our Number 1, the president. However, if we are going to point fingers, we also have to look at our own actions and take responsibility for our own ethics. This means that each one of us too should refuse to receive or give a bribe.

It is possible to have a corruption-free nation if it starts with you and me.

Youth Entrepreneurship – A missing link to South Africa’s economic growth

Genuine entrepreneurs are the engine of sustainable economic growth and innovation in South African as a nation. Under proper governance and encouraging environment, they can make a pivotal contribution to the socio-economic development of the continent. However, entrepreneurs, particularly owning Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), have continued confronting formidable challenges.

With a high number of SMME falling within a period of 5 years, it is time for the economic burden to be lifted off the government and for entrepreneurship, diversification and individual empowerment to carry us forward.

Today the problems South Africa faces seem big, and it seems the only force strong enough to fight them is the government. We say this and yet we ignore the potential we have within us and if we come together, everyone contributing. For this to be achieved mobilization of resources and acting courageously is our only recourse.

The current rate of unemployment in South Africa estimated to be about 24% (CIA World Fact book, 2012) is unacceptable. South Africa currently has one of the highest unemployment rates internationally. Our economy had entered a period of “jobless growth”.

More and more of our young graduates are either unemployed or are placed in wrong positions. Research has shown that South Africa is facing structural unemployment and something needs to be done fast and now. South African youth over dependence on government to create jobs must come to an end. Not only are we having high rate of unemployment but always a very low entrepreneurial activity as compared to others developing nations (2009 GEM Report, entrepreneurial activity amongst male South African is about 7% and female about 5%).

The most affected by these rates are young graduates. They lack the necessary skills, inspiration, motivation and acumen to take advantage of their creative and innovative minds. There is lack of entrepreneurial culture and skills among South African Youth.

As a young entrepreneur, I’ve been late to meetings due to using public transport. I’ve needed someone to tell that “My project didn’t go well, what could have led to that?” I needed fast internet and data bundles not running out every now and then. At times I had to make calls to many companies recharging with different sim cards, comparing rates of various cellphone networks. I’ve been there.

I’ve however learned that there are 5 things any young person from a disadvantaged community needs for him/her to become a better entrepreneur:

1. A mentor

2. Access to internet and a telephone

3. Access to efficient transport

4. Healthy and nutritious food

5. Right network of people

With these 5 things firmly in place, you don’t need anything more.

Youth entrepreneurship is not something that would be ‘nice’ to have as a nation; it is a national imperative and the allocation of our national budget must reflect that; our schooling system must reflect that.”

Follow Abuti Rams on Twitter (@abutirams) & Facebook (www.fb.com/abutirams)

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