You are here:   Dispatches > Cyril Ramaphosa's poisoned chalice

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”.
View Full Article
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.

April 9th, 2018
5:04 AM
This article did not cover the other aspects in all this. Julius Malema...he is the greatest danger to peace.

Eddie Goldschagg
April 8th, 2018
8:04 AM
R W Johnson.There are a lot of people who certainly will not like what you said, but you hit the nail on the head. Thank you. I will follow you with interest.

April 8th, 2018
7:04 AM
As a South African I ask. What is the next step?

Craig Schweitzer
April 6th, 2018
5:04 AM
Att: R.W. Johnson I am a South African, am a third generation citizen and spent my entire life living in Johannesburg. We get bombarded with political opinions from numerous sources. People comment of current affairs from various perspectives, and often with differing agenda's. I read your article with interest, and was captivated from your first sentence. You have so succinctly documented exactly what is happening in South Africa (and Africa) right now, that I feel your article should be used as a reference point in understanding the political and economical situation of this country before continuing with a political direction. I feel that the reality, which you have described, should be understood, and the course of our future altered to fix our future outcome, not for the benefit of the quarter million only. Thank you for writing this article, I will certainly share it far and wide, and intend following your future commentaries.

Johann Fourie
April 6th, 2018
2:04 AM
A most interesting summary of events of the past 20 + years, albeit alarming at times.Full marks to the authour.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Dispatches
Popular Standpoint topics