How bad is “the situation” in South Africa, really? That is the question we are most often asked, not only by foreign visitors but by our own readers. Let’s think about it. Our lead story about the goings on at the SABC is a laugh a minute – except that the collapse of the national broadcaster is no laughing matter. Later we have yet another story which demonstrates how the country’s companies and intellectual property register (CIPRO) continues to be gutted and discredited as a result of rampant corruption and incompetence.
City councils, provincial governments, state departments one after the other; Eskom, Transnet ... the same story of corruption and incompetence is told about all of them, week after week. And then there’s the government’s shameful decision to close down the arms deal investigations. And its continuing threat to muzzle the press. We might as well call those two the terrible twins, because they are umbilically linked.
It is important to remember that the bribery and corruption involved in the arms deal has its origins in Europe, where the arms dealers follow a centuries-old tradition: European traders in Africa have always been ready to exploit any moral, material and intellectual weakness of the indigenous leadership that they might be lucky enough to discover. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the ANC leadership were actively encouraged by European arms vendors and their governments to solicit and accept bribes, and that then minister of defence Joe Modise and his aides succumbed and took huge bribes.
And then there’s our president. It is fairly obvious that a politician who has multiple wives and a score of children cannot support them in a style appropriate to their status – without “help from friends” and “gifts from admirers”. Given the available evidence, and on the overwhelming balance of probabilities, Jacob Zuma solicited and benefited from arms deal bribes.
Most disturbing of all: he was elected president despite the evidence of corruption.
Why are we so relentlessly critical of these developments? Because we fear for the loss of privilege? Maybe. But, even more, we do so from pity for those growing millions who have no job, no home, no health care; for those who get such lousy schooling that they cannot possibly make it through university – unless, of course, we reduce those institutions to sham universities that are happy to award “affirmative” sham degrees.
What, one asks, would they be affirming by giving such degrees? The insulting suggestion that black South Africans are hopelessly, irredeemably incompetent? That the only hope they might have is an irrational one?
That somehow, by destroying their own crops and slaughtering their own herds – for that is what the ANC is doing by destroying the country’s infrastructure – they will succeed in escaping the challenges of a more modern, more technologically sophisticated outside world? A world that requires its children to have had 12 years of thorough education before they are able to participate effectively in a modern industrial economy? An “alien” outside world so annoyingly represented by “white” South Africans who, by an irrational act of black self-destruction, might be driven “back to where they came from”, thereby miraculously solving the problem?
Which, it is said, is what Nongqawuse hoped to achieve nearly two hundred years ago with her claims to that insane “vision”. What in today’s world might be called the “Zimbabwe option”. Sure, most of the latter country’s white population fled “back across the sea” – but then so did half its black population – to South Africa. Robert Mugabe is the ultimate symbol of a leader who has been successfully corrupted into delivering his people into starvation – thereby exposing them to a new level of exploitation.
Two centuries ago it was customary for “favoured” tribes or chieftains in British Caffraria to be paid off – in brandy and trinkets – for delivering up their own or neighbouring tribesmen into slavery or other forms of economic exploitation. Today all the evidence points to South Africa’s leaders and its dominant political party having been corrupted and paid off to much the same end. What else was the arms deal but a case of European traders exploiting the moral and intellectual weakness of our leaders in order to rip off the entire nation?
Corruption creates the illusion of success. All that the grand cars and grand lifestyle enjoyed by various of our political leaders proves is that they have been successfully corrupted. Don’t they see the implied insult?
Now the BIG question: will the media be muzzled before they are able to warn voters of the impending catastrophe, should they continue to support such corrupt and delusional leaders?
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