Mark Davids, Managing Director – MOTSWEDI
I had an interesting conversation with an ex-colleague the other day who mentioned to me that his 14-year-old child asked him, with genuine concern and curiosity, whether if the EFF came into power, that they were going to kill all white people, following what he had heard within the school corridors. My reaction to this was abject horror, that this was the kind of conversations which were going on around the high school passages at ex-model C/private schools. Considering the racial diversity and higher quality of education which should create an environment of open discussion to unpack statements like these – or are these politically charged discussions ignored.
My belief concurred with the belief of my ex-colleague in his response to his child, that this kind of conjecture was the worst kind of fear mongering which could be spread in any country. This reminds me of the apartheid style fear mongering some of us may remember – Swart gevaar (Afrikaans for “black danger”) was a term used during the South African apartheid era to refer to the perceived security threat of the majority black African population to the white South African government. ((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swart_gevaar)
Fear mongering right and left
Children generally repeat what they see and hear from their guardians and parents, so this is obviously a lingering question which is on the minds of some. With South Africa’s high level of social polarisation along with the three scourges of poverty, inequality and unemployment speculation of this nature is deeply dividing.
It appears that misinformation is being mobilised to exacerbate the behaviour of decision-paralysis which means wealth remains amongst a few members of society – and aims to discourage the minds of some who may have thought of sharing it. Unfortunately, those who want to grab wealth have all the more reasons to point a (self-) righteous, gold adorned finger at the opulent and wealthy; all at the expense of the poor. Ultimately this implies that if an asset owner or steward of capital does not see a future for their child in their country, then it’s likely to influence detrimentally their decision to support black businesses in the first place.
What do you mean sharing?
It has always been clear to me that the wealth of the country has to be shared. I can’t see any other pragmatic and sustainable course of action. I have frequently opined and sounded clarion calls for action towards economic transformation in South Africa, particular in financial services. Economic transformation can only happen when asset owners and asset allocators such as Retirement Funds, investment consultants and professional trustees allocate meaningful capital mandates to organically grown black fund managers in order for these businesses to grow, employ people into the industry and consequently drive economic transformation.
Investment performance is usually the driver for clients appointing and remaining with fund managers and is what clients ultimately buy. As most black fund managers have experienced, this is not the only thing that matters. There are additional/underlying behavioural finance aspects of “herding” and “irrational behaviour” to consider. For instance, a situation when an asset owner being more comfortable with the prospect of making a wrong call on an established fund manager than making a wrong call on a small (often black) fund manager. This bias has one of the biggest impacts on determining where and how assets flow to fund managers in the market.
Active hope: the opposite of fear
What we have seen from our neighbours to the north, who share a border with us, is that hope in itself is not sufficient, even well – educated people can be misled. Active citizenry, whistle-blowing against private and public sector corruption, freedom of press, freedom of expression without infringing on my right to individual expression can be complex at the best of times. These are the virtues which exist and create an environment for holding leaders to account. Actively vocalising to our leaders that they should make decisions which will benefit more of the South African population, and not only their tightly held circles.
Yes, South Africa is a good choice; I believe that having more open conversations about the kind of country our children will inherit is important. The conversation I am having with my teen is that there is hate, but there is also active hope, which we can choose. We can choose active hope and encourage more leaders to step up in all spheres of life and continue to do their best. Let us collectively leave less decisions regarding the future to chance, old men and fanciful orators.
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