There is something to be learnt from the left and right

CAN anyone tell me what happened to the initiative started by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and business leader Bobby Godsell to help save jobs?

CAN anyone tell me what happened to the initiative started by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and business leader Bobby Godsell to help save jobs?

I hope the two did not let left- or right-wing ideologues tell them that it would be a scandal for them to work together.

The world can do without the howlers from either the right or the left who think that the world is a lecture hall where they can shout any theory without there being any consequences.

Pan Africanist Congess founder Robert Sobukwe once lamented that those who called themselves communists in South Africa had, like those alleged to be Christians, given their creed a bad name.

Today we are seeing the likes of Julius Malema and the hundreds of other tenderpreneurs, successfully give entrepreneurship a bad name. They have created the impression that a successful businessperson is one who lives a high life, drives the biggest gas guzzler available and wears the longest pointed shoes they can get.

They speak to the person whom former president Thabo Mbeki's Nelson Mandela lecture in 2006 referred to when he said: "It is perfectly obvious that many in our society, having absorbed the value system of the capitalist market, have come to the conclusion that, for them, personal success and fulfilment means personal enrichment at all costs, and the most theatrical and striking public display of that wealth.

"Whatever the benefit to any individual member of our nation, we nevertheless share a fundamental objective to defeat the tendency in our society towards the deification of personal wealth as the distinguishing feature of the new citizen of the new South Africa."

While these caricatures of tenderpreunership experience the ridicule they richly deserve, they are not any better than the old money brigade who literally steal money from the poorest by fixing the price of bread and then going on to claim huge profits.

To add insult to injury they congratulate themselves with huge bonuses and tell the rest of us how "efficiencies" have worked for their businesses.

That is not to say the leftists have all the answers. World history proves they do not. Whether they call it Marxism, Leninism or Maoism, socialism as preached by Karl Marx has failed to light the fires anywhere it has been tried.

What leftist theory has succeeded at is in instilling in us all a social conscience and a reminder that left on its own the so-called free market system will only return us to the days of the Neanderthal Man, when life was short and only the most savage survived.

No less a beneficiary of capitalism, billionaire financier George Soros, wrote in The Capitalist Threat: "The laissez-faire argument against income redistribution invokes the doctrine of the survival of the fittest.

"There is something wrong with making the survival of the fittest a guiding principle of civilised society.

"Cooperation is as much a part of the (economic) system as competition, and the slogan 'survival of the fittest' distorts this fact.

"I blame the prevailing attitude, which holds that the unhampered pursuit of self-interest will bring about an eventual international equilibrium (in the world economy)".

There must be another way. That is why I am saddened that Vavi and Godsell seem to have run out of steam.

I am unavailable for any argument that seeks to convince me that virtue is to be found either in socialist principle or the free-markets - never in both.

There is something to be said for a society that ensures that all get quality education and healthcare, thus helping them escape the poverty they were born in, just as there is merit in a society that rewards personal prowess, excellence, innovation and, yes, efficiency when the word is not used as a synonym for robbing the poor or exploiting workers.

Come back Zweli and Bob, South Africa urgently needs you.