Past records should talk

NOW that the ANC seems serious about nationalising the commanding heights of the economy, we should look at how the state has so far managed enterprises under its watch.

NOW that the ANC seems serious about nationalising the commanding heights of the economy, we should look at how the state has so far managed enterprises under its watch.

Talk is cheap. In the absence of a crystal ball, one way we can assess the potential success of any venture is to look at how those who sponsor it or are to be entrusted with it have fared in the past.

So far the state's management of enterprises does not look encouraging.

Just a few weeks ago before she was shouted down, Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan suggested that most of the assets currently in the stewardship of the state should be privatised because they were a drain on our taxes.

Hogan told us what we already knew. Too many of the billions of rand that should be going towards health, education and other social needs are being used to keep the likes of South African Airways, Eskom and the SABC afloat.

Instead of dealing with what Hogan was saying, the leftists within the ruling alliance demanded she eat her words.

The problem with reality is that it does not go away simply because those who don't like it have a louder voice than everybody else.

The youth league, the communists and everyone else demanding the nationalisation of assets currently in private hands should rather suggest ways of ensuring that the state starts managing what is already in its hands better. Until then, any debate about the state taking ownership of the means of production remains a non-starter.

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