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The net result is that after 24 years of ANC rule there has not yet been one good executive president and the country has suffered enormous damage. In addition, very few cabinet ministers are competent and many of them get rich with suspicious speed. The ANC is, moreover, still working towards the old Soviet slogan of the National Democratic Revolution, which is supposed to see the transition to socialism. Even the most corrupt claim to be revolutionaries and call one another “comrade”. The party has just vowed to proceed with expropriation of land (and, by implication, other property) without compensation. The whole emphasis is on redistribution rather than growth, on consumption rather than investment. The result is that under ANC rule unemployment has grown from 3.7 million to 9.4 million. Unsurprisingly there has been an investment strike and the last few years have seen a massive outflow of capital as panicking South African firms and individuals rush to buy foreign assets.

There is indeed, a curious symmetry with Venezuela, whose President Maduro is much admired by the ANC: it has the largest oil reserves in the world and is now plunged into hopeless poverty and debt. South Africa has the largest mineral deposits of any country on earth and it also has record (40 per cent) unemployment, increasing inequality, slow growth and falling per capita income.

To further spice things up we have also had the spectacle of the three Guptas — Ajay, Atul and Tony — once the most powerful family in the country, able to sack and appoint ministers, now becoming fugitives from justice. The deal was simple. Working through crooked ministers (whom they had effectively appointed) they secured the appointment of Gupta creatures on the boards of all the state-owned enterprises (SOEs) who then diverted a stream of contracts to Gupta companies. Zuma would report to them after every cabinet meeting, driving with the presidential cavalcade to their luxurious home, and in return they would divert great wealth the way of the Zuma family. Now we have the inglorious spectacle of the ministers who collaborated in this daylight robbery suffering amnesia, denying things they are forced to admit on the next day and generally trying to evade responsibility. The Guptas, meanwhile, have fled the country and are invisible though the law enforcement agencies of several countries are keen to know their whereabouts. They may have stolen as much as $5 billion or even more. Their Cape Town house, bought from Mark Thatcher, stands vacant. Zuma’s son, Duduzane, a  major Gupta associate and beneficiary, has also fled.

South Africa is now in a parlous position. Two of the three big ratings agencies have downgraded its credit to junk status, the government has run out of cash, the civil service is far bigger and far better-paid than in any comparable country and the big state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been looted and mismanaged into bankruptcy. So much has gone wrong that it is difficult to know where Ramaphosa should start. His first state of the nation address was full of commitments to hold jobs summits, set up commissions, advisory councils, task teams and working committees, all premised on the assumption that if you can get business and labour round the table with government all problems can be solved. The Communist Party and their allied trade unions, Cosatu, immediately demanded that Ramaphosa, whose election within the ANC they had supported, must consult them first. They have branded his first budget “a betrayal”.
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July 27th, 2018
8:07 PM
I regret things are worse than RWJ reports. The corruption and sheer incompetence at every level, has even led the majority of municipalities to be totally dysfunctional and bankrupt. Those residents up-to-date with their rates and taxes and utility bills often find the water or electricity cut off to the entire community because their local council hasn't paid for the electricity or water to the bulk supplier - but they collected the money from the residents which they have stolen or misappropriated. The money set aside for maintenance of infrastructure such as sewage works etc has 'vanished' and they then allow raw sewage to flow into the rivers causing major pollution, the fish and birds die and even the trees along the banks die (eg. Vaal river) Everybody suffers, Black, White, rich and poor. Cry the beloved country.

July 1st, 2018
12:07 PM
The SACP must be over the moon. Heroic effort brings great reward. Tough on the ordinary folk. 'Twas ever thus.

May 3rd, 2018
7:05 AM
I have never read a more accurate analysis of South Africa, and indeed, Africa as a whole. If a South African leader who can implement the structural changes required is not elected within the next five years, SA will be doomed to the same future as most other African countries, especially Zimbabwe. What a pity this will be.

Michael Coulter
April 19th, 2018
9:04 PM
Most insightful. Thanks for writing this.

April 19th, 2018
8:04 AM
In response to "Anonymous" 16 April 9.04 "Apartheid regime caused a much greater genocide. Its rule resulted in millions of black South Africans, mainly infants and children, dying of starvation because they were deprived of food" I would dearly like to know where and when these death occurred

Keith Phillips
April 19th, 2018
3:04 AM
I sadden at this having experienced the Zimbabwean collapse. I fear that the starvation that is coming to SA will eclipse anything that has happened in the past as the outflow of capital and capability in the sector collapses food production. Forget the past. Rescue the future.

Rob Bass
April 18th, 2018
5:04 AM
RW Johnson has summarised the South African situation perfectly. It's impossible for me to challenge any one of his statements. Life for all SA inhabitants, except the black elite, will become more difficult in future. Dependent upon one's age & energy level, it is either a country with unbounded opportunity or one from which those capable should emigrate sooner rather than later.

April 17th, 2018
4:04 PM
Very balanced but not touching on Malena and his extremists. On land expropriation : This will certainly lead to famine as it has done in the rest of Africa. When you combine that with the well meaning Australians that want to speed up visas for white South African farmers, it certainly will happen. HOWEVER, the well meaning Australians( I love them) should keep in mind that this will just antagonize the SA Government and they now “have to be right” and stick to their policies just as the Apartheid regime did when sanctions were imposed. Angry people do not make sane decisions. Angry people break and destroy without pain initially to themselves. Have you ever hurt yourself in a moment of anger?....Did you feel it? Afterwards, possibly when you saw the blood! What we need is diplomacy and communication, showing respect and gradually educating so that we can arrive at a common, sane, reality. Don’t vent your anger and antagonize. It serves no purpose. And. Also, don’t antagonize inderctly by offering help via the media. Wage a private war in private and keep the sensationalist media out of it, please! P.B.

April 16th, 2018
9:04 PM
While Thabo Mbeki deprived black South Africans of retroviral drugs the Apartheid regime caused a much greater genocide. Its rule resulted in millions of black South Africans, mainly infants and children, dying of starvation because they were deprived of food.

April 13th, 2018
3:04 PM
There is much truth in this piece but it gives white South Africans a free pass.They have white Messiah Syndrome deeply embedded—most senior positions in companies are held by whites not because they are more competent but because most whites have refused to change and embrace meritocracy. The decisions are made in secret white laager committees—so nothing has changed from Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van Riebeeck’s days.

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