Zuma’s decision to banish Nhlanhla Nene to the South African equivalent of the Siberian salt mines is more than reckless. Like a wildly swinging wreaking ball, it destroys everything in its path. The one centre of sane thought and policies within the ANC Administration has always been Finance. It was the voice of common sense & reason in the midst of Zuma’s shambolic management of the South African economy.
Now that too has gone.
Main picture: The regard that Zuma has for South Africa, the one-fingered salute
This inane decision was not unexpected given Zuma’s inability to present a coherent view of his political views or indeed, any vision apart from well-worn political platitudes. With South Africa’s head deeply buried in the sand hoping for the best, it was left to an “outsider” RW Johnson to raise the unspoken question publicly viz How Long Will South Africa Survive? in the eponymous book. Why is this book so prescient? To begin with which author has written two books with the same title equally prescient but with diametrically opposed reasons.
The first book was written more than three decades which foresaw the imminent collapse of Apartheid within a few years. As if Johnson was the ultimate insider, he accurately prophesised Apartheid’s ultimate implosion.
Now this Rhodes Scholar, historian, Oxford don and political scientist yet again answers the same pressing question with similarly direct conclusions. In his totally revised book he brutally exposes an economy mismanaged and plundered to the point of bankruptcy by its Soviet-style political masters.
The Cosatu conference barely a month ago revealed how not only Cosatu but Jacob Zuma himself are trapped in a 1950’s mind-set where government fait and not market forces are the final arbiters of economic progress. Ironically even though the ANC has anointed China as the poster boy of South Africa’s economic model, they failed to grasp its essence; namely that it was based upon crude capitalism of the worst sort. No Unions, no minimum wage, unregulated hours, lack of concern for health and safety issues. Instead in South Africa these issues were placed in the forefront of the revolution before that of the creation of jobs.
Furthermore all economic progress was judged within the narrow confines of race. Instead of giving the creators of jobs – the entrepreneurs – free-reign to create jobs, they have been circumscribed with a host of BEE requirements. Instead of the entrepreneurs focusing on growing the business, instead the focal point is meeting the BEE requirements.
Why are all of South Africa’s parastatals is such disarray and dysfunctional? Precisely for the same reason as enumerated above. Apart from meeting BEE requirements, what else do they have to contend with? Cronyism, factionalism, corruption, incompetence and unprofessional conduct from the Chairman to the lowest health care worker and teacher. The purchasing of jobs within the civil service has now become rampant. Seeking bribes has now become the norm.
RW Johnson might not have predicted the exact sequence of events culminating in South Africa’s economic collapse. Perhaps due to his distance and dispassionate view of events was he able to predict what the consequences of the morally and economically inept government under Jacob Zuma would be. The rest of the South Africans are hiding in their mansions or their hovels just hoping for the best; hoping that the looming collapse did not eventuate.
Even before his election as President, Jacob’s moral turpitude and lack of management skill had been exposed. Both were within the strict confines of court on charges of rape and corruption albeit via the corrupter – Shabia Sheik.
So far, Zuma has been able to collapse the Police Service, all of the SOEs, the Independent Police Directorate [Ipid] and the National Processing Authority. The appointment of wholly inappropriate candidates like the new Minister of Finance has ensured that these entities collapse.
The one skittle left standing was Finance. So far they have resisted all attempts at crude economic populism. Then came an immovable force called Myeni, Chairwoman of the
National Carrier, SAA. As a close confidant of Zuma’s and rumoured to be romantically linked to him, she has seen off three Cabinet bosses. First it was Malusi Gigaba who was sidelined to Minister of Home Affairs and then when his successor Lynn Brown became an annoyance to Myeni, SAA was incongruously sifted under Finance.
It was Nene who had the gall to make a stand. Last week he made it abundantly clear to Myeni that he would not support her hare-brained scheme regarding the purchase of Airbus aircraft that Zuma leapt to her defence and dismissed Nene.
That leads one to wonder what hold Myeni has over Zuma that he is willing to plunge South Africa into fiscal chaos for a mere professional friendship as he would have us believe.
It was not only the SAA / Myeni saga that led to Nene’s downfall, it was also Nene’s loathness to support the R 1000 billion nuclear power plant deal with Russia. This contract has been “negotiated” under dubious circumstances and lacks all rational basis for its awarding. Like the infamous Prasa deal, it will burden South Africa for generations to come just so that some Zuma accolytes can be financially rewarded.
The whole Nene saga again exposes Zuma’s lack of economic acumen. Decisions are taken to satisfy Zuma and his friends and never South Africa.
South Africa can no longer afford a President of such immoral character and dubious ability to govern.
Now is surely the time for South African to firmly state ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Book: RW Johnson – How Long Will South Africa Survive?