by Hannes Wessels
They say crime doesn’t pay but it sure as hell does in South Africa. The ANC has been running the country for 25 years now, they have broken virtually everything they have touched and what they couldn’t break they have stolen. In the lead up to the election there was widespread criticism of the fact that many of the party candidates were facing very serious criminal charges. Some were of the view that the party elders were shooting themselves in the foot by not distancing themselves from the more obvious rogues in the hierarchy but the leadership stood firm. None of the bad guys were asked to bow out and it turns out the party-bosses were dead right not to worry about a voter-backlash; the ANC has romped home to win a comprehensive electoral victory and is firmly ensconced to govern the country for another five years. And because the winners maintain a very firm grip on all the important levers of power there is very little reason to believe that any of the multiple miscreants who hold positions of power in the party and the country will be asked to account for themselves. It is business as usual and as they say in the classics, ‘a loota continua!’
The publisher and staff at The Economist will be delighted; this is the result that they came out so strongly for in their recent edition which drew an angry response from the Democratic Alliance MP John Steenhuisen. He pointed out in his (unpublished I gather) letter to the newspaper that, “South Africa is on its knees after 25 years of one-party dominance by a patronage party that works only to enrich a connected elite”. He goes on to explain that the country’s 58-million people, most of whom are black, poor and getting poorer, are at the mercy of an all powerful kleptocracy and questions why a supposedly well informed, business friendly magazine would be so supportive of such a dispensation.
I suspect at least some of the answers to his question lies with the fact that the editorial staff are white liberals who seldom see anything meritorious in anything with a white skin so they have an agenda and then bend and twist the facts to fit the message they want to send. So, they will speak softly about highly competent, committed and incorruptible politicians like Helen Zille, Alan Winde and indeed John Steenhuisen who have led the DA, so selflessly. Thanks to winning control of the provincial legislature, they have played a major part in making the Western Cape by far the best governed province in the Union and a magnet for migrants fleeing the collapse of infrastructure elsewhere in the country. ANC led provincial and municipal councils throughout the rest of the country are in varying stages of destruction and decay and yet The Economist seems to want more of the same.
This is not too surprising. In similar vein, the paper was stridently pro-Obama despite his anti-business policies and cut him plenty of slack for the duration of his presidency. They did not like Trump, and to Trump’s credit, I don’t think he liked them, nor did he listen to them and just as well. Trump has triggered a massive economic boom that has paid dividends to millions of Americans.This, almost certainly would not have occurred had he towed The Economist line.
I personally gave up on this publication some years ago when I read a cover-story on how the population explosion in Africa and Asia was good for the world and a necessary component for future global wealth creation. The fantasists who wrote the article trotted out familiar tropes about the need for labour and how, along with billions of more mouths to feed, there would be massive economic growth thanks to innovation and entrepreneurship. In the African context, what they didn’t explain, was why there has been so little seen of this, in the last 50 years and more since the continent was decolonised. Maybe they know something I don’t but all I can see in the Africa that live in, is an environmental catastrophe unfolding, economic implosions and millions of poor people looking anxiously for some way to escape from some of the most richly endowed countries on the planet. The primary reason for this is the countries they live in are some of the worst governed on the planet and there is no future for them because criminals masquerading as politicians hold power and they abuse their subjects mercilessly.
The other reason is property-rights are seldom, if ever sacrosanct in Africa so ownership of assets and savings is seldom guaranteed. For Africans, the fruits of their labours can be snatched away at the whim of a bureaucrat or a politician so the incentive to work and create wealth for the communal good is invariably absent.
The ANC, The Economist’s party of choice, is publicly committed to following a similar path through a constitutional amendment that will allow the expropriation of property without compensation. The publishers and staff are probably quite pleased about the fact the initial victims will be mostly white farmers and Afrikaners to boot but they should know better than anyone; without property rights, no country can prosper, and South Africa is no exception.