Mzukisi Qobo pertinently and pointedly asks, "Why are the middle classes so politically passive?" (June 15). He charges that "complacency", choosing to "cede power to those who have seized the commanding heights of politics" and "wallowing in our learned powerlessness" has made the middle classes assume "an irresponsible position of victimhood", which has set back "progressive social change" in SA.

The middle classes sustain democracy. When they grow politically passive the very values, freedoms and rights they enjoy become increasingly compromised and emasculated. Over a few years the enjoyment of life in the middle stratum of society will become a never-ending nightmare with the responsibility of having to carry personal and national money burdens. We are already seeing how political passivity has caused the economy to decline, plunging millions of households into debt and poverty.

The price of political passivity is increased taxation and higher administered prices. The minister of finance has already finished giving government departments a thorough haircut. Even so, rising national debt, mounting service debt costs, spiralling fruitless and futile expenditure (R30bn last year), and endemic corruption have made the Treasury bare. Government will now come back mainly to the middle classes to seek levies, tolls, and very likely an increase in VAT to fund itself. Over 40% of all government expenditure goes to wages and salary and government is desperate for new revenue.

While I agree with Mr Qobo that it is "unrealistic to expect everyone to be politically involved in the sense of joining a branch of a political party" the alternative is to wait and pay a price worse than the Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and others are being called on to meet. Our Greek moment is just around the corner.

Joining a branch of a political party is the only sure way of influencing policy, choosing leaders and applying curbs on the government. It may not be sexy, but it is enormously powerful.

The vast majority, privileged to constitute the middle classes, are letting themselves and future generations down. It is, actually, quite unconscionable and shocking.

Farouk Cassim

Century View, Cape Town