Identifying Issues Of The Future
What Emerging Issues Of The Future Require Our Special Attention
Contribution By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP


KfW BERLIN Future Forum, Facilitated Working Group (17:15) 13 November 2011



The ancient Romans used to say "nihil novi sub sole", there is nothing new under the sun. I do not believe that any issue is new, but changing circumstances bring to the fore changes in priority and emphasis. For me, the issue which future development will bring under greater pressure is that of freedom. This is not a new issue. It is an everlasting issue, but it will assume new characteristics and dimensions as our societies become more complex, more regulated and more demanding of the individual.


In South Africa, we have experienced a huge increase in regulations and legislation as our country leapfrogged from the isolation and backwardness of Apartheid, into meeting the demands of a modern society. All this regulation is undoubtedly necessary and beneficial. 

It protects, helps and assists people. However, it also limits what people can do.


History tells us that human nature is such that if human freedom in compressed, anger and social unrest develop. An ever more controlled society will need to have steam-release valves which enable people to enjoy and appreciate those spaces of individual freedom which make us feel human.


Our present society is placing great emphasis on entertainment, which is acting as an analgesic, damping the pain of an often unfulfilling life. Television, entertainment and immediate gratification are available to people in a measure never witnessed in history. However, like all other analgesics, this too is bound to wear out as people get used to it and tend to consume ever increasing quantities of it.


We need to ensure that a viable alternative exists to promote and maintain real spaces of individual and collective freedom within our society, beyond that which is regulated, controlled, informed and shaped by the rules of society.


My other concern is also an everlasting one, which will come into greater focus as the years go by. That is the concern relating to social justice. Even though it has been around since one man by force or stratagem forced another man to work for him, this concern will become more relevant as people gain ever greater amounts of information, social awareness and independence of thought.


The societal justification given to explain why one man should earn thousands of times more than another will no longer be socially acceptable, as people realise that working harder, being better educated or having had better fortune can no longer justify such social disparities. The foundations of our society will be questioned, as intrinsically aimed at maintaining such disparities.


Against the backdrop of the failure and discrediting of communist ideologies, the quest for greater social justice is already moving towards questioning the role played by the state.


Questions are arising across the world about what appears to be a new social compact between states and international money trusts, which control the issuance of the money we use. Demands are arising across the Western world for the reform of the monetary system, and greater control of the financial sectors, which are now being seen as antithetic to the interests of workers and industrialists alike.


Underpinning all this is the genuine and respectable demand for an equitable distribution of what society has to offer, so that an acceptable relationship can be maintained between what one puts into society and what one is entitled to get out of it for personal benefit. This issue will not go away and is bound to increase over time.


It is difficult for politicians to tackle it the way it deserves, as it would mean making enemies of the financial and banking centres of the world, and all that the very existence of our society seems to be based and predicated on. It is difficult to imagine a world not controlled by financial centres and banks, and one in which bank notes are substituted with government notes.


It is not good politics for politicians to advocate such radical changes, but I guess that one of the benefits of having reached the age of 83 and having been in politics for sixty years is that of having no concern about my political future. Because of this, I dare to dream of such a world and know that, unless the political class of the world forges and pursues such a dream, the anger of people living in an ever more regulated society, characterised by incurable social and economic disparities, will undermine all that many generations have fought for in the pursuit of freedom and liberty.


Contact: Ms Liezl van der Merwe, 082 729 2510.