Jacob Zuma’s election by the ANC as President was never going to bode well for South Africa. His rise to being the only candidate to stand against Thabo Mbeki despite two latent but revealing moral flaws – unresolved charges of rape and corruption – was extremely worrisome for clear thinking people. Zuma has revealed himself to be every bit as corrupt and venal as was expected but his seminal decision to fire yet another competent minister, Nhlanhla Nene, and replace him with an incompetent epitomised a man out of his death.
Main picture: Jacob Zuma (2ndR) poses for photographs with his three wives Sizakele Khumalo (R), Nompumelo Ntuli (L), and Thobeka Mabhija (2-L) after the State of The Union Address
Even if the Nhlanhla Nene episode had not occurred this year, there were nonetheless sufficient damning incidents to still anoint Zuma as Mampara of the year. Instead of the by-line being A Man out of his Depth, it would have read A Man of Many Gifts – Corruption, Patronage and Incompetence. Zuma clears ticks the boxes of all three.
The issues that I would then have mentioned would have been:
- His open admission that he placed the ANC before South Africa
- Chuckling instead of answering a serious questions whether in parliament or not
- His patronage politics
- The standoff with the judiciary
- Corruption at all the parastatals
- The Guptas
It is not so much only that Zuma is the holder of a Standard Three Certificate, but that he objectively lacks an understanding of how a modern economy works amongst many things. But what he does not lack is cunning. I have heard him being described either as a cane rat or as a mine rat. In both cases the inference is that these rodents are not intelligent but possess an inordinate degree of cunning to avoid capture. Somebody must have read Zuma the seminal book on political cunning this year The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, a Renaissance era politician, diplomat, philosopher and writer, as Zuma has managed to take political intrigues to a whole new level this year.
When Zuma made his unexpected announcement on Wednesday 9th December the whole of the business community together with the rest of South Africa took a collective gasp of utter astonishment. A sense of doom descended onto South Africa. I was mortified. South Africa would now be amongst the failed states of the world – Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea, all friends of the leftists within the Tripartite Alliance.
About a month before this announcement, Zuma confirmed that he possessed not even a tenuous grasp of economics when he addressed the Cosatu Conference. Not only did he display a woeful lack of economic understanding but it highlighted the fact that the ANC was trapped in a 1950s socialist mind set. In spite of copious evidence to the contrary, the left wing clings to the cost of labour concept which, by now, is thoroughly discredited. Amongst those in the upper reaches of the Alliance still reading the books of Marx and Engels – of which there appear to be plenty – I would like to inform you that these theories are outdated and DO NOT WORK. They are utterly discredited even in Communist China.
An excellent example that Alec Hogg used in one of his blogs was that of East Germany. Apparently East Germany possesses only miniscule quantities of mineable copper. The bureaucrats consulting their Marxist textbooks to ensure that their calculation of the price at which they would sell the copper was politically correct. Here Marx sternly admonished them not to be deluded by the capitalists as the cost of the product had to be based upon the cost of the labour. They duly calculated the cost and arrived at a figure 18 times higher than the world price. Instead of attempting to reduce their costs by automating the process, they arrived at a eureka moment. They would sell it to fellow socialist states that would understand why the costs were so high. They duly visited all their fellow socialist brethren. All conveniently forgot their Socialist rhetoric as they politely declined the offer of expensive copper as they were content to purchase their cheap capitalist copper.
I wonder why.
An example closer to home will illustrate the same fallacy. At a number of Cosatu Conferences there has been an uproar and a sense of befuddlement when it is found that the apparel being handed out is not produced in South Africa. The hand wringing that is heard is consternation why the capitalist suppliers of the apparel could not have purchased more expensive South African T-Shirts and caps.
Ironically the many hawkers and roadside vendors abounding intrinsically understand the fundamentals of economics viz:
- Purchase as cheaply as possible
- Sell at what the market will bear
- If the margin cannot allow one to live, do not sell those items or find another vocation
Immediately after firing Nhlanhla Nene, Zuma addressed a gathering of black professionals. After apologising for not having a prepared speech, Zuma launched into a tirade about capitalism. It was a rambling off-the-cuff talk which highlighted Zuma’s views on economics like no other. By a twist of fate, Zuma was revealing his economic viewpoint that the politicians should control the market while the market was collapsing due to the indigestion caused by Zuma’s unpalatable decision.
Soon the market would let Zuma know in forthright terms that it was in control.
That decision by Zuma was to cost South Africa dearly. In my personal case, the worth of my investments declined substantially!
The market had taught Zuma a valuable lesson but at South Africa’s expense.
Trapped in a time warp and not possessing the intellect to comprehend the workings of a modern world, Zuma was truly a man out of his depth in 2015.