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Despite that, the ANC seems determined to copy all the mistakes of Nkrumah, Kaunda and Nyerere. The current water crisis in the Western Cape, for example, is directly traceable to the nationalisation of water in 1998. Water — which is precious, scarce and costs a lot to extract, store and recycle — was declared a national resource which would be freely available to all as a human right. But little effort was made to increase water resources or even to maintain the existing system. Inevitably, disaster has followed and water currently sells for high prices on the black market in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa is doubtless a great improvement on Zuma but he seems committed to much the same failed ANC policies. He talks of the need to stop corruption and stealing in the state-owned enterprises but assumes they will remain state-owned, which is a bit like saying he will stop mice from eating cheese. Under ANC rule the public hospitals have collapsed which has led the government to insist that the solution lies in abolishing the highly functional private medical sector. Ramaphosa is continuing with this crazy policy. And he has embraced the policy of expropriation without compensation. He seems to think he can invite foreign investors to a big conference and there persuade them to invest in South Africa but it is difficult to see how they will get beyond item one, the question of expropriation without compensation.

There is a post-apartheid consensus which is effectively endorsed both by the parliamentary opposition and internationally. This is best summed up as transformation plus black empowerment. Transformation is a process which is supposed to happen to every area of life from company boards to sports teams where as many black people as possible must be appointed or selected at least until demographic representivity is achieved — though no one will mind if you go beyond that to 100 per cent black. There is a particular concentration on the topmost positions in leading sectors (e.g., the directors of the 50  biggest companies) because, of course, such positions are of particular interest to the new elite.

Transformation can only be achieved by massive affirmative action, often with disastrous results, such as an Eskom board with no member with engineering or business experience. But South Africa is a middle-income country in competition with many other countries in which appointments are made on merit. And while a minority of affirmative action appointments work well, most don’t, a potent cause of South Africa’s slide in all major international rankings and its almost zero economic growth. Ironically, affirmative action, though hugely popular with the black elite (its main beneficiaries), is, according to opinion polls, unpopular with most blacks — after all a black miner or farmworker or domestic servant cannot benefit from it but will suffer from the inferior delivery of services which it results in.
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July 27th, 2018
8:07 PM
I regret things are worse than RWJ reports. The corruption and sheer incompetence at every level, has even led the majority of municipalities to be totally dysfunctional and bankrupt. Those residents up-to-date with their rates and taxes and utility bills often find the water or electricity cut off to the entire community because their local council hasn't paid for the electricity or water to the bulk supplier - but they collected the money from the residents which they have stolen or misappropriated. The money set aside for maintenance of infrastructure such as sewage works etc has 'vanished' and they then allow raw sewage to flow into the rivers causing major pollution, the fish and birds die and even the trees along the banks die (eg. Vaal river) Everybody suffers, Black, White, rich and poor. Cry the beloved country.

July 1st, 2018
12:07 PM
The SACP must be over the moon. Heroic effort brings great reward. Tough on the ordinary folk. 'Twas ever thus.

May 3rd, 2018
7:05 AM
I have never read a more accurate analysis of South Africa, and indeed, Africa as a whole. If a South African leader who can implement the structural changes required is not elected within the next five years, SA will be doomed to the same future as most other African countries, especially Zimbabwe. What a pity this will be.

Michael Coulter
April 19th, 2018
9:04 PM
Most insightful. Thanks for writing this.

April 19th, 2018
8:04 AM
In response to "Anonymous" 16 April 9.04 "Apartheid regime caused a much greater genocide. Its rule resulted in millions of black South Africans, mainly infants and children, dying of starvation because they were deprived of food" I would dearly like to know where and when these death occurred

Keith Phillips
April 19th, 2018
3:04 AM
I sadden at this having experienced the Zimbabwean collapse. I fear that the starvation that is coming to SA will eclipse anything that has happened in the past as the outflow of capital and capability in the sector collapses food production. Forget the past. Rescue the future.

Rob Bass
April 18th, 2018
5:04 AM
RW Johnson has summarised the South African situation perfectly. It's impossible for me to challenge any one of his statements. Life for all SA inhabitants, except the black elite, will become more difficult in future. Dependent upon one's age & energy level, it is either a country with unbounded opportunity or one from which those capable should emigrate sooner rather than later.

April 17th, 2018
4:04 PM
Very balanced but not touching on Malena and his extremists. On land expropriation : This will certainly lead to famine as it has done in the rest of Africa. When you combine that with the well meaning Australians that want to speed up visas for white South African farmers, it certainly will happen. HOWEVER, the well meaning Australians( I love them) should keep in mind that this will just antagonize the SA Government and they now “have to be right” and stick to their policies just as the Apartheid regime did when sanctions were imposed. Angry people do not make sane decisions. Angry people break and destroy without pain initially to themselves. Have you ever hurt yourself in a moment of anger?....Did you feel it? Afterwards, possibly when you saw the blood! What we need is diplomacy and communication, showing respect and gradually educating so that we can arrive at a common, sane, reality. Don’t vent your anger and antagonize. It serves no purpose. And. Also, don’t antagonize inderctly by offering help via the media. Wage a private war in private and keep the sensationalist media out of it, please! P.B.

April 16th, 2018
9:04 PM
While Thabo Mbeki deprived black South Africans of retroviral drugs the Apartheid regime caused a much greater genocide. Its rule resulted in millions of black South Africans, mainly infants and children, dying of starvation because they were deprived of food.

April 13th, 2018
3:04 PM
There is much truth in this piece but it gives white South Africans a free pass.They have white Messiah Syndrome deeply embedded—most senior positions in companies are held by whites not because they are more competent but because most whites have refused to change and embrace meritocracy. The decisions are made in secret white laager committees—so nothing has changed from Johan Anthoniszoon "Jan" van Riebeeck’s days.

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