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Herman Mashaba outlines what capitalism means to him

Capitalist CrusaderBlack Like YouJohannesburg’s new mayor Herman Mashaba was recently interviewed by Leon Louw for Reason.

Louw is executive director of the Free Market Foundation. Mashaba is a former chairperson on the FMF, and 2004 won the FMF’s Free Market Award for his exceptional contribution to the cause of economic freedom.

In the introduction to the article, Mashaba is described as “an unlikely mayor for South Africa’s largest city”, and Louw describes him as “an outlier” even in the Democratic Alliance.

Louw begins by asking Mashaba how he became a capitalist at a time when the apartheid government’s proclaimed capitalism caused most black people to turn to parties that were critical of free markets.

Mashaba explains his idea of capitalism:

reason: How did you become a capitalist, then?

Mashaba: People must be careful by what they mean by capitalist. Capitalism for me is my right to feed myself and my family, to provide for myself and my family without any government intervention.

Government’s role is to ensure that people don’t kill me; when I have a dispute with you, to have courts I can take you to; and to provide infrastructure. That’s the role of government. But I don’t think I need any government to tell me that I must wake up to feed my family. If I decide that I don’t want to work, why should government force me to work? As long as I’m not going to be a liability to that government. If you decide you don’t want to work, then you cannot expect other people to assist you.

Obviously, some people for some reason need short-term intervention. I am for that. But if someone decides, “You know what, I don’t want to work”? I don’t think any government needs to force people to work. I don’t need government to tell me I must work for you and then determine how much you must pay me and how many hours I must work.

When they start coming out with those policies, it is when you start stifling development. I’ve seen trade unions in this country becoming powerful and controlling our people. I was no longer allowed to reward people who are hard-working because unions assume everyone is the same. Unions discourage people from being the best they can be. I must pay people exactly the same regardless of whether they work hard.

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