In 1995 at a Democratic Party Federal Congress held in Muizenberg, Tony Leon a former leader of the Democratic Alliance gave a speech entitled “An agenda for a better country”. Since Tony was perceived as brusque he was not well liked by many within the political maelstrom and his efforts were often dismissed.
The speech focused on three subjects. The first spoke about economic liberation which included the creation of competitive markets, encouragement of entrepreneurship and staring down of vested interests.
In Dec 2009 a media report stated “Dairies investigated for involvement in a milk price-fixing cartel came under heavy fire in the Competitions Appeal Court for bringing applications raising technical objections that appeared to be aimed at stalling the main hearing. The commission alleges that Clover Industries, Clover South Africa, Parmalat South Africa, Ladismith Cheese, Woodlands, Lancewood, Nestle South Africa and Milkwood Dairy engaged in practices prohibited by the Competition Act.
On 17 March 2011, another media report commented on the bread price fixing scandal that the Competition Tribunal had investigated. The cartel involved the major bakeries: Tiger Brands (Albany), Premier (Blue Ribbon) and Pioneer (Sasko and Duens). Premier Foods cooperated and they received leniency, Tiger Brands received a R98 million fine and Pioneer received a R195 million fine. In response, consumer expert Wendy Knowler stated, “To read of the companies elaborate conspiracy to prevent consumers from being able to buy cheaper bread is blood-curdling stuff”.
Years later the question remains, since regular citizens are probably paying the fines via increased bread and milk prices, what actual penalties was extract from those engaged in the conspiracy.
The second issue spoke on crime. Between 1984 and 1994, 140 000 South Africans have been murdered. Current statistics average about 14 000 murderers annually. What purpose has been served by removing the death penalty?
The third issue included effective service delivery and empty promises. Politicians continue to make idealistic promises; redeploy inept loyalist and most municipalities are unable to secure clean audits.
Ironically, all three issues continue to resonate and haunt South Africa almost twenty years later. Tony was not well liked but at least he knew what he was talking about.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress