One of the most painful things that continues to rip my heart apart is seeing young people leaving their rural provinces to work for food franchises in Gauteng for paltry wages- a wage that they have to use to pay accommodation and buy food from the same people that employ them in those franchises. And that just speaks to how the South African economy is designed- with its capitalist teeth forever biting those it was designed against.
In The Economy On Your DoorStep, development economist Ayabonga Cawe reflects on the historical design of South Africa economy by looking at how the economic policies- from the colonial/ apartheid period to the democratic South Africa continue to fail the poor of the poorest in the poor provinces of our country.
Using his home province of the Eastern province and the places he grew up in as case studies, Ayabonga shows how the post-apartheid government has failed to create economic opportunities in poor province such as the Eastern Cape- which the previous white governments had created them to be what they termed ‘native reserves’- places where poor black people will just use for sleeping purposes, and leave them every morning to places where there are no economic opportunities.
Unemployment, poverty, poor governance, land reform are some of the key themes that Ayabonga touches on to make his point of how the economy of this country has yet to bear fruits for the poor black masses- especially those in the rural provinces.
Now, let me state that I found myself nodding in agreement with Ayabonga’s assertions from the first page to the last page, especially with regard to how our local and district municipalities continues to fail so many of us. The poor governance and slow pace of implementation of policies continue to hinder so many people in villages to create economy in their doorstep, and the result of that forces many to migrate to provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape for economic opportunities which they could have easily created in their villages.
The Economy On Your DoorStep is a book that not only reminds us that we- the people are the economy, but that we can create our own economic opportunities in our villages and township by helping and supporting one another- with our local and district governments also playing their role in that regard. If I am producing a product or selling a service, my community should be the ones to support such, so as to be able to create economic opportunities from the support I get from them.
I think the only bummer for me is the fact that this is a heavy read, written in heavy economics and financial language that only a few can comprehend. And that is the most disappointing part because Ayabonga has dedicated this book to the poor African workers; mine workers, security guards, and many more who are being whipped by capitalism every day, whom I am certain they might struggle to comprehend the message in the book- due to also its academic flair.
Despite that, I believe this is an important read, because, in the famous words of Ayabonga himself, nangoku siyayi’banga le ekhonomi, and we will do that until everyone is poverty-free.