The decline and fall of South Africa 1

Fertile, mineral rich, naturally glorious, splendidly developed, constitutionally orderly South Africa, with equality under the law and a relatively free economy, is fast becoming just another African hellhole.

It is now in a sharp and probably irreversible decline caused by the misrule and corruption of the ANC (African National Congress), which has been in power since exclusive white rule ended in 1994.

Its first black president, Nelson Mandela, was a communist who saw the sense of keeping the country capitalist. It seemed set fair to prosper – even though free enterprise was hampered by labor-protection laws made to conciliate the powerful trade unions.

The ANC, Mandela’s party, promised jobs and good housing for all. But unemployment grew, largely because of the laws protecting black employment, and shanty-towns remained, worsened, and proliferated.

As the ANC continued to rule in callous arrogance (and still does), the power-stations became unreliable and electricity cuts ever more frequent; roads were not repaired; water-supplies and the postal service became unreliable; hospitals were closed; education was rotten. The government looted the country. Civil servants and politicians took bribes for favors. (Recently, Covid relief money never reached anyone to provide relief, it simply “disappeared”.)

Mandela was succeeded in 1999 by Thabo Mbeki, whose deputy president for six years was Jacob Zuma. Mbeki dismissed him in 2005 because his reputation had become scandalous for rape and corruption. Zuma was nevertheless elected leader of the ANC in 2007, and as such became president of South Africa in 2009. His presidency ended in 2018 and Cyril  Ramaphosa’s began.

After he left office, sixteen criminal charges were brought against Zuma for fraud, racketeering, money-laundering in connection to illegal arms-dealing. He tried to get them struck down but failed. He refused to appear before a commission investigating government corruption when ordered to do so by the Constitutional Court. So on June 29, 2021 he was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court and given until July 7 to turn himself in. When he did not, the police went to his home to arrest him. They found huge crowds of his supporters surrounding his house.

Jani Allan, ex-South African journalist now living in the US, describes the scene, writing at RT:

Thousands of his supporters traveled at the weekend to Zuma’s home village of Nkandla in Kwa-Zulu Natal, to form a human shield to prevent him from being arrested … Zulus wearing traditional garb and carrying shields and knobkerries toyi-toyi’ed and sang ‘struggle’ songs.

But Zuma surrendered to the police and was taken to jail.

On July 9 , the high court of  the province heard and rejected his challenge to the fifteen-month sentence, which he brought on the grounds that he was 79 years old and jailing him in the midst of the Covid epidemic was tantamount to a death sentence.

Protests against his imprisonment erupted, and quickly became violent. Looting, arson, and massive destruction followed, not only in the province of KwaZulu-Natal but also in Guateng, in and near Johannesburg.

R. W. Johnson, emeritus fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, who lives in South Africa and has written extensively about it, writes at Quillette:

The explosion of violence followed the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma on a charge of contempt for refusing to appear before the Commission of enquiry into the wholesale looting of the state which took place under his presidency. Nobody seriously doubts that Zuma stole millions, probably billions of Rands and he still faces a long list of charges for racketeering, money-laundering and sundry other crimes. But Zuma still has a large following among his Zulu followers and effectively threatened to make the country ungovernable if the government dared to jail him.

Once the rioting and looting of shops and hijacking of trucks on the highway began, with the police clearly scared and ineffective, word rapidly spread that you could go “shopping without money”, creating huge excitement among the ranks of the millions of poor and unemployed Zulus who inhabit the townships and squatter camps around Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and from there spreading into every small town of the province. Most of the looters and miscreants were unconcerned about Zuma’s fate. They simply heard along the grapevine that trouble was going on and realised that opportunity was staring them in the face.

They flocked in huge numbers to the shopping malls and began to loot them. Quickly the spree spread to Johannesburg, home to many more Zulus—though many others joined in. It was a whole-of-community thing: most of the looters were poor and on foot but not a few arrived in cars, sometimes very expensive cars. Some even came with vast trailers to haul away freezers, fridges, and cookers. Huge queues of cars swamped the freeways, all heading for the malls, and other forms of criminality blossomed—protection rackets, attacks on and thefts from other motorists, anything that offered a quick buck.

In a sense this had been coming for a long time. When the ANC was first elected in 1994 its posters promised “Jobs, jobs, jobs!” but paid little heed to that once they were elected. In 1995 the average number of unemployed, according to official figures, was 1,698,000 or, if one took the expanded definition of unemployment, including those who had given up looking for a job, the figure was 3,321,000. With only a few exceptional periods to the contrary, that figure has grown steadily and hugely to surpass 11.4 million today. Since the unemployed have little or no income, this has also meant a huge growth in both poverty and inequality. The ANC has routinely deplored poverty and inequality but it has generally tried to pretend that this is part of the “apartheid inheritance”. As the figures show, this is the opposite of the truth.

If you assume that each of those 11.4 million has two or three dependants, we are talking of households comprising 30 million people—half the entire population or even more. They are, for the most part, sitting in shacks, cold, hungry, without alcohol (banned as part of the COVID lockdown), insecure, with nothing to do and with almost no hope of a job. It is a picture of pure misery. These are the greatest victims of ANC misrule. Many of them are young people who have never worked in their life and who have given up hope that they ever will. For the young women among them prostitution is almost their only hope of an income. One looter, when interviewed on TV, frankly admitted that he stole every day because otherwise his 15 year old sister would “have to sleep with a grandad”. 

In practice the plight of the unemployed and poor has been ignored. The government is far more concerned with the “haves” within its coalition—the BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) capitalists, the public sector workers and the trade union bosses. …

Government is attentive to the trade unions of those in work but all it has for the unemployed is crocodile tears. … South Africa’s tight labour laws greatly privilege those in employment, giving the unemployed little opportunity to compete for jobs. Moreover, the huge weight of endemic corruption together with inept policy choices means that South Africa is now in its seventh consecutive year of falling real per capita incomes. People are getting steadily poorer and COVID lockdowns have increased the misery, costing many jobs.

If people who are ignored and treated like this are told that the time has arrived for shopping without money, how can one be surprised that they respond in such numbers and with such enthusiasm? That sort of shopping is fun and exciting and you end up with food, drink, and a new TV.

There are also clearly political elements trying to make the country ungovernable by attacking key pieces of infrastructure—there have been attacks on reservoirs, over 120 attacks on electricity sub-stations, and the road leading to the Sapref refinery in Durban (which produces one third of all South Africa’s petrol) has become so dangerous due to continuous attacks on vehicles that the refinery has had to close down completely. Already there are huge queues at garages and a major fuel crisis is building. Moreover, as soon as a shop, warehouse, or factory has been looted it is set on fire. None of these crimes produce money and the destruction of such buildings is bound to cost jobs and lead to many more people going hungry in future. …

There is general indignation that the police have been so passive, usually just standing by and watching the looting going on. They are, of course, hugely outnumbered, though they are armed. There are many cases of the police themselves operating protection rackets and demanding “favours” from the public. …

Ramaphosa finally ordered 2,500 troops in to support the police but they make no difference: they too stand passively by as looting goes on, for the government is clearly terrified of the optics of a black government firing on poor black people. In any case, South Africa is a big country and the troops are far too thinly spread. Yet the looting goes on day after day and right before the government’s eyes the country is being destroyed, investor confidence is being undermined, and any hope of South Africa emerging from its economic crisis is vanishing. While only two provinces are affected, Gauteng is the country’s economic heart, producing 40 percent of its GDP, and Durban is the major port. The highway between Durban and Johannesburg is the country’s main economic artery and that has been closed for many days now.

With the forces of law and order so weak and inactive, vigilante militias have sprung up to protect many suburbs and, typically, to protect their local mall or supermarket on which that suburb depends. Often these vigilante groups are multiracial but usually they depend on white ex-members of the security forces. They are armed and determined to stop looting spreading to their homes. …

Already food and fuel shortages are developing. No one is going to resupply malls that have been burned or, indeed, any shop that is vulnerable to looting. So even if the looting stops as the looters run out of targets, there is bound to be a major hunger crisis—which could drive people to even more desperate acts: the big worry is attacks on private homes. But ATMs have been destroyed, pharmacies ransacked, and drink shops pillaged so there will be shortages of medical and other supplies as well. …

The Rand has dropped sharply and could fall more.

What the riots point to is the colossal failure of ANC governance. It has emphatically not brought a better life for poor Africans.

The outlook is for terrible crises of hunger, and shortages of fuel and medical supplies. A great deal of social infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed—some 400 malls were attacked, including many pharmacies. The ANC is more divided than ever and the economy has taken an enormous blow. Without doubt real incomes will continue to fall.

This is what the ANC has achieved after 27 years in power. … For years in opposition it boasted of how it would improve the life of the African masses, but it has found that the task of governance was a whole lot more difficult than it imagined and it is steering South Africa steadily towards the status of a failed state.

 

Update

Breitbart reports:

South Africa’s “looting death toll” from violent rioting reached 337 on Thursday July 22, 2021. Public health officials confirmed 79 deaths in Gauteng province and 258 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Posted under Africa, corruption, Crime, Revolt, South Africa, trade unions by Jillian Becker on Thursday, July 22, 2021

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South Africa, for better and for worse 3

The cruelly oppressive apartheid regime in South Africa came to an end when elections, open at last to non-white voters, brought the African National Congress (ANC) to power in 1994.

A South African academic who lives in Johannesburg has sent us, at our request, this view of what everyday life is like in South Africa now:

South Africa really is such a peculiar place in which to live. Johannesburg, at the moment, is looking glorious: at least, its suburbs are. We have had wonderful rains (Wagnerian storms in fact!), and the gardens of the Northern suburbs are positively lush. The inner city is a curate’s egg: some parts have been reclaimed; others are lost forever, drug-lord-dominated, filthy slums, heartbreaking to see, if one ever dares to venture near them. In the part I live, we are pretty comfortable, but one always has to be cautious.You never stroll anywhere at night, and do not place a handbag beside your chair in a restaurant. Theft is rife, and one still hears of dreadful rapes and armed attacks on homes in affluent Johannesburg. Crimes are always vicious, and car thefts continue.

Motorists have to be very alert. Traffic is mind-boggling, and the roads are anarchic, a hellish cacophony of hooting and a blur of careering, lethal vehicles, dominated by the so-called “black taxis”: mini-vans crammed with passengers, and driven by desperate, unlicensed youths, who frequently kill their helpless passengers by causing horrendous collisions. Over the December vacation, over 1000 people were killed in road accidents, most of them involving taxis.

Yet, there are still stylish restaurants in which to wine and dine; local cinemas get the transmitted operas from the Met and the dramas from London’s National Theatre – so, although our live theatre is moribund except for revived “protest works” and musicals, we are not quite theatrically starved. So much for the good news.

The bad is pretty dire. Poverty and unemployment are appalling: there are tattered beggars on every street corner. The wealthy “Black diamonds” [the new elite] care even less for the poor than did the Nats [the Nationalist Party which ruled in the apartheid era], and the ANC’s corruption puts that of the Nats to shame. In what is known as North West Province (North Western Transvaal), every ANC-run municipality is being investigated for corruption, and, in Limpopo Province, there is complete bankruptcy owing to ANC corruption. A doctor friend of mine put it aptly: under the Nats, bureaucrats repaired the roads and then kept the left-over money; ANC bureaucrats keep all the money and never bother to repair the roads.  That is very accurate. Oh, and, as The London Times put it, South Africa must be the only country in which there is Affirmative Action for a vast majority, and an over-taxed minority supports the mass populace. Talk of “nationalization” [ie full socialism] idiotically continues, but I think that the greed of the ANC will prevent any attempts at complete nationalization, for President Zuma does not wish to slaughter the golden-egg-laying goose.

In short, we live in a kleptocracy, under a regime voted in by the majority. I shall never regret the overthrow of the vile Nats or the enfranchisement of the unenfranchised, but I hoped for ‘different’, not more of ‘similar’. One’s only hope is that one might live to see a truly democratic government in power in South Africa.