Reflections on the Rainbow Nation, South Africa
‘You know,’ he added reflectively, ‘we’ve got a much easier job now than we should have had fifty years ago. If we’d had to modernize a country then it would have meant constitutional monarchy, bi-cameral legislature, proportional representation, women’s suffrage, independent judicature, freedom of the Press, referendums . . .’
‘What is all that?’ asked the Emperor.
‘Just a few ideas that have ceased to be modern.’ (Evelyn Waugh, Black Mischief, (1932), p. 128).
South Africa’s once diamondiferous soil was always leavened with blood, running down the anthill to the lowest point of Kimberley’s Big Hole, just as Uncle Paul Kruger had predicted. The working men were strip-searched before going home, but after pocketing the Lesotho Brown, one of the world’s biggest diamonds, the Oppenheimers and the De Beers flung a few rand to revamp Soweto. Charles (‘Goldfinger’) Engelhard also liked to spruik his credentials as a progressive liberal democrat, all-the-while travelling with his fellows along John Vorster’s perilous path. (Conflict Diamonds Are Forever).
White mischief might have been stylish enough in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. By the time Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994, things had changed. An allotrope of carbon was still one of the silliest and most desired commodities, but the hunters and gatherers had moved on to Russia, China, India. But gold remains a good hedge against rampant inflation (too much money chasing too few goods). So, too, do a few other things: bribery, corruption, theft of national assets, heroic incompetence. Human Rights Watch reported that “Police statistics show that between 2019 and 2020, the rate of reported sexual offences in South Africa increased by an average of 146 incidences a day, 116 of which were cases of rape. Between 2017 and the first quarter of 2021, over 512,000 girls and young women ages 10 to 19 delivered children in health facilities and close to 57,000 terminated their pregnancies.” 7,555 murders were recorded in the third quarter of 2022. The danger and disenchantment among police is high: the ratio of private hired security men to police is more than 10:1. There has been a recent wave of looting and killings of whites and ethnic Indians in Jo’burg and Durban. Nelson would roll over in his grave; maybe even Winnie would, too. He once said: “Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemies.”
Under the ANC, and in particular the Marxist Kleptocracy ‘Duumvirate’ of Zuma and Ramaphosa (2009-now), South Africa is cooked. On the plus side, its net zero targets are well on track: this is because it has daily blackouts of up to 10-12 hours a day. The grid is virtually held together by bits of string. Over 200 blackouts in 2022 alone, often to spare complete grid failure. Criminal gangs sabotage the infrastructure and then win maintenance contracts. Jacob Zuma was reported to have been bribed by Eskom, the technically insolvent State power company formerly run by the Guptas, and the then President effectively opened the company books to them. A replacement head of Eskom, André de Ruyter, didn’t kowtow to the ANC and resigned. Almost that same day, he was poisoned. And on April Fool’s Day 2023, the price of energy increased by 18.65%, assuming you could actually source it.
Crime thrives in darkness, and street lights don’t shine. Food, bodies awaiting burial, and sick animals, rot in the streets and in dead fridges. No power also means no water. It’s like the deserted war hospital scene in Lawrence of Arabia. Businesses – those that survive – count their biggest operating expenses to include diesel and generators. Farms – those not compulsorily acquired, sans compensation – haemorrhage money to buy water, which is often scarce. The unemployed form the biggest industrial cohort in the country: the U.S. Department of Commerce reported in May 2023 that it is at 37%. “Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment” policies aim to “redress economic imbalances among historically disadvantaged communities to facilitate socio-economic transformation through granting procurement preferences on government contracts.” Black is beautiful, but stuff like this is not enhancing the life and prosperity of the vast majority of people of colour in South Africa. These growth-deadening and racist policies are perfect reflections of the Tyranny of Guilt – or perhaps that should read ‘Revenge.’
HIV/AIDS infects 10% of the population. The international multi-nation Financial Action Task Force has placed ‘South Africa on its list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring (grey list) and has identified eight key areas with strategic deficiencies in its anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, with illicit funds linked to drugs trafficking, the illicit arms trade, cyber fraud and other serious crimes‘ (unrestrained). The education system (along with responsible child-rearing, guardianship and youth socialisation) is in the bin: it has been estimated (by ‘Leader’), that the nation’s young have a 65% illiteracy rate, but have unmatched skills in the important areas of theft, smuggling, assault and coercive sexual behaviour.
Some kind of underground explosion just cracked open a busy thoroughfare in Jo’burg. However, good news is on the way. Friendly governments may be able to assist South Africa to exploit its still abundant mineral wealth and other resources. For example, the South African Government earlier this year issued the following statement: “South Africa and China enjoy vibrant economic relations and China is by far South Africa’s largest global trading partner.” China’s enthusiastic neo-colonial delving into South Africa’s oil, gas and rare minerals has been attended by observing its traditional overseas values; poor labor conditions, unsustainable environmental practices, and job displacement. So they fit right in. As for helping with the countries’ energy catastrophe, China has proved as committed as it is to Net Zero. And about a year after Russia invaded Ukraine (in respect of which he directed his representative at the U.N. to abstain), President Ramaphosa hosted war games with Russia and China off its Indian Ocean coast. The Government has issued an explicit denial that arms were shipped to Russia on its ship the “Lady R” at Simonstown Harbour, so we can assume it happened. That’s “progressive internationalism” for you.
Ben Farmer in the Spectator (4/3/23) reports that earlier this year, ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula was giving a radio address that the government would fix infrastructure, including the grid, when another blackout made his microphone cut-out and the room darken. But like the State of Victoria under the Supreme Leader Daniel Andrews, South Africa is virtually a one party state. The ANC, which has taken a vow of poverty on behalf of the people, is unlikely to be seriously challenged in the 2024 elections. One gets what one wishes for; competition is even more desirable in the public than the market square.