What hope for South Africa? Sadly, very little

What hope for South Africa? Sadly, very little. By Ollie Wright.

Despite holding power since 1994 the ANC, who once offered so much hope, have done little to improve life for the mass of the black population. Their leadership, weakened by corruption and outdated ideology, is dominated by what South African political expert RW Johnson describes as a ‘gangster elite’.

Of course the obscenity of apartheid had to end, but the ANC seem perfectly to represent the ideas of the ‘new-Machiavellian’ thinkers such as Pareto or Mosca, who influenced Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four so much. They maintained that revolutions are not held to liberate anybody; they are simply the means for one oligarchy to replace another.

The ANC’s rule and ideology have often led to serious mismanagement, ironically exacerbating the country’s problems by using racial classification. Their programme entitled ‘Black Economic Empowerment’ was introduced supposedly to give black people a stake in the economy and key institutions by enforcing black participation or co-ownership. But, dubbed by critics ‘Black Elite Enrichment’, it’s proved a severe drag on progress. Siphoning wealth from productive white-owned businesses to well-connected cliques of black nouveaux-riches – doing nothing for the black poor.

It’s proved to be just one more factor driving white people from the country. Whatever you think of the history of how the white minority first gained its economic position, their skills and capital are much needed. Increasingly, though, there is little to keep them. Further encouraging their emigration is the surge of support within the ANC for expropriation of parts of the economy without compensation; particularly agriculture. That’s a thought to let sink in. In a country with a flight of capital, desperate for inward investment to modernise, how bad at understanding economic outcomes can you get? …

If you’re not one of the elite, somebody’s protégé or a snugly embedded public bureaucrat, things are grim. The unemployment rate is significantly higher than when apartheid ended. …

South Africa is ranked as having the world’s 7th highest per capita murder rate. The townships are dangerous places, especially for women, with sexual violence widespread. More generally, government services are failing, with poor management, patronage and cronyism engulfing them.

According to the South African Institution for Civil Engineers, basic amenities and infrastructure, everything from water to road bridges, are starting to crumble away.

Becoming just like the rest of black Africa. Who would have guessed? And oh look, socialism.

It’s now proven that despite his constant lies, even after apartheid’s fall, Mandela was a full member of South Africa’s Communist Party, even on its Central Committee. …  Given that Mandela’s presidency began after global communism had collapsed and different socialist models in other African countries had already failed, he made no great effort to adapt his economic thinking. Mandela and the ANC leadership showed little ability to understand or learn much. Mandela had some admirable qualities, he made a fine figurehead. But in government, with his ideological baggage, questionable friends and failure to tackle corruption, his leadership was severely lacking.

Then there was his famous quote, ‘poverty is not natural, it is man-made’. A lovely slogan if you’re a well-paid western charity executive. But if that was Mandela’s real opinion, such wrong-headedness is difficult to believe. It matters a lot when presidents think wealth is some sort of naturally occurring phenomenon and don’t realise we are lifted out of poverty only by intense and unnatural effort. Judging by their record and current policies it seems Mandela’s ANC never understood this.

hat-tip Stephen Neil