The Youth Wing of the ANC are all noise, just like Ogra Fianna Fail or the Young Conservatives.
Of more interest to Pin People might be the National Credit Control Act in 2007 which limited the amount people in SA could borrow to 30% of after tax income. It stopped their housing bubble stone dead.
I travel to S.A. a lot in the course of my work. Malema is a loudmouth idiot who gets slapped down frequently by the ANC elders.
S.A. has actually weathered the last few years surprisingly well, I would consider moving there (have been asked several times) if not for the crime situation. Their long-term economic prospects are certainly better than ours.
Well Ogra FF dont have a history of necklacing their political enemies…
I think the opinion of those who live there is rather less optimistic. What I am hearing is rather more fearful about the future. I used to think of Julius as a loudmouth too but there seems to have been a real change in the dynamic over the last year or so. I used to think Zuma was just posturing, now I think he is plotting.
On the whole things have worked out much better so far than elsewhere because the transition was purely a South African solution. No outsiders involved. No Clair Short to open her monumentally stupid mouth. But I have a bad feeling that once Tata dies the situation may get pretty nasty. Without Mandela to act as a moral ballast and a restraining force I have a real fear that the ANC will quickly go off the deep end and the situation will start on the slippery slope. The Afrikaans establishment have a done a very good job of co opting the ANC ruling elite so far but that is a very dangerous game. De Klerks recent public comment is a sign of just how worried those behind the scenes are getting.
Despite all this I’d still be somewhat optimistic if it were not for the single biggest screw up by the ANC since taking over. The botched attempt at Land Reform. The fact that so many white farmers want to sell up means there is no excuse for the utter shambles. This is the one area where the situation could really spin out of control very quickly. Where the ANC could quickly discover it is no longer in control of the political dynamic. If this ever happens then the farm invasions by “veterans” will quickly develop into something much more nasty. Unlike Zimbabwe SA is not majority tribe / minority tribe with whites as an afterthought. Its a lot more complicated. Jo’burg / Gauteng is the one area where there would be no clean solution to any subsequent unraveling. It could easily turn into a Algerian / Pied Noir type situation. A much better analogy than either 'Mozambique or Rhodesia. Very nasty.
That’s the kind of future my friend is having to weigh up at the moment. And why the Western Cape is starting to look like the only place in SA that might have a viable future.
I know little about the situation in SA . But Australia is full of South Africians both mixed race and white who have basically fled SA due to the crime . They all say that the situation is not completly out of control yet but use Mugabe as an example . They all say " It took Mugabe 30 years to totally destroy Zimbabwe "
I work for a major South African bank and have done since 1998 - things are as stable now as they have been since 1994. I travel there on average 5/6 times a year and am thus very well acquainted with both the political and economic dynamic. I am not seeing any major change in either dynamic - I’m not sure where you are gleaning your information from but I doubt it’s from direct experience on the ground.
The economy is doing pretty well (they had a real estate bubble but didn’t manage to go as completely insane as us ), commodities boom is obviously great for them and South African corporations are doing well all over their hinterland - which is pretty much all of Africa. BEE has on the whole been a success (we have a black CEO now, something that would have been unthinkable a decade ago). There is a thriving black middle class - so much so that the joke on the street is that BMW stands for ‘Black Mans Wagon’. (Hilarious eh, South Africans aren’t great at the old jokes)
Socially, things are more complex but it is certainly true that ‘White Flight’ has now slowed to a trickle and indeed, there is a definite trend of white South Africans returning from the UK, Ireland, Australia etc. I work in an environment where blacks, whites and coloureds mix, work and socialise quite easily - the phrase ‘the Rainbow Nation’ may be somewhat trite but there is undoubtedly some truth in it. On the other hand, I have never seen a mixed race couple in all my years travelling to S.A. (hookers excepted ) which tells something in its own right. The racial divide still exists but an accomodation has been worked out.
The hardest thing to accept (for those of us with European sensibilities) is the massive gap between the rich and the poor. It’s literally a stone’s throw from the mansions of Sandton to the township of Alexandria (far better choice for slum tourism than Soweto) but they are worlds apart. Some progress is being made in terms of housing and services but it is painfully slow. Zuma has fired numerous municipal managers for corruption and\or incompetence. Crime levels are still high but have stablised and even reduced in some areas.
In political terms, I see definite parallels between the ANC and Fianna Fail. In power too long with all the resultant jadedness and corruption that implies. But does that mean that loudmouths like Malema are representative of the government? - it does not. Speak to any middle-class South African and they will tell you that Zuma has surprised on the upside. Keeping the economy on track while incrementally making slow, painful progress with service provision for the poor. There is no discernable trend to radical Zimbabwe-style policies (Mugabe is despised by most South Africans) - there are too many ANC bigwigs with too much to lose. Don’t forget that the ANC are now the establishment.
Last thought; look at last year’s World Cup. A triumph. South African run. Efficient, crime-free, enthusiastic welcome for the world. South Africa is a great country - fantastic weather, some of the best food and drink in the world, incredible scenery, friendly people, cultural diversity (have a go at speaking Xhosa) and an open-hearted optimism about life that is hard to find in Europe. Sure there are problems but they have repeatedly overcome them since the end of apartheid and they will continue to do so.
Oz is very multicultural and I meet a lot of expats from all the world and they have all sorts of reasons for their ’ flight ’ . South Africans are different in that they feel that they have had to flee .They seem to me to be some weird form of rich and entitled refugees . They were unable to sell their houses and due to the exchange rate that more or less had to start over again in Oz . They are not your typical expats in that they were emigrating at the wrong time in their lives with only the shirt on their back .
Most if not all site Zimbabwe as a reason for their ’ flight ’
Generally I am not a fan of most South Afriacans that I meet here . I find the racism and sense of entitlement a bit difficult to deal with and then when they open up their ’ how the world did not really understand the situation there and how misguided the santions were etc . to becomes more difficult .
When asked about ’ white flight ’ all of them respond with ’ those that could emigrate , have already emigrated ’
As I said , I know little about the situation in SA , I have never been there . I am just adding in my experiences of South Africans that I have met here .
Unlike Zim, South Africa escaped the president-for-life trap. Mandela passed power to Mbeki, who yielded it peacefully to Zuma. The other big difference is the diversity of the SA economy compared to farm focused Zim.
Well my main source for what is going in SA at the moment is someone who was an involuntary exile (family tragedy when young) who desperately wants to move back home. Although her father is an English speaking SA she is at least 75% Afrikaans. You have to go back at least 4 or 5 generation to find anyone with a European passport. Almost no one in her extended family back in SA left post '91. These people consider themselves completely African and are fiercely patriotic. They are going nowhere unless forced to. They mostly live in or around Jo’berg , the Orange Free State , Durban and a few in Cape Town. So I get to hear a fairly regular update on what daily life is like for at least one subsection of ordinary folk in SA. Despite the fall in crime a depressing amount of family news tends to be whose house was broken into, who got robbed and which neighbor was now leaving because they saw no future for their kids because of affirmative action.
In my experience the expats tend to divide into thee groups. The English speakers who really did not have very strong roots to start with. Those who left who saw no future for the kids. And those who left because of the horrific levels of crime, mostly those directly effected. I’ve met people from all three categories. But apart from the first group almost all would rather be back in South Africa if it was possible.
The reason why I keep mentioning Land Reform is because until I starting hearing the stories about what was happening in this area I was still fairly optimistic about the future. After all the worse case scenarios predicted by the die-hards in the early 90’s had not come about. But as I dug further it was starting to sound increasingly like the early days of Zimbabwe in the early / mid 80’s. I always remember one particular conversation I had with a young white Rhodesian I met in '85 who was planning to return home to run the family farm. She was so full of confidence, she would have been the third generation of here family to farm that land. The country had such huge potential and I remember when I asked about how the local ZANU guys where adjusting to the new situation there was a certain equivocation in her answers. She gave the standard answer , along the lines that they where bright enough not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. That they knew that without the whites the country would collapse. Well we all know how that turned out. I often wondered what happened to her. I’m sure her farm was taken from her. I hope she escaped with her life. But she struck me as the sort of person who would stand and fight for her farm and her workers livelihood so I suspect she ended up as one of those terrible statistics.
I hope for the best. SA will not become another Zim. At least not a carbon copy. But never underestimate the self-destructive impulses of African politics. I expect the Western Cape to prosper in their post ANC politics scene but the rest of the SA is much more problematic. Nationalizing the mines would be the height of stupidity and would economic suicide for Johannesburg so my guess is that the ANC will back off for the moment. But the long term future of Johannesburg is very much up in the air and in 10 or 20 years time I’d expect it to be just a shadow of its former self as the (non mining) economic center of gravity shift overwhelming to the Cape region.
The sooner SA can move to a post ANC, pluralist political world the better for everyone concerned.
However, what is striking about your posts on this thread is how they are all based on the viewpoint of the whites. And what they lost. Which is not to deny that these people deserve to have their story told or their views represented.
Still, this kind of analysis tends to treat the miserable conditions of the vast majority under the previous rotten system as an afterthought.
We have thousands of SA expats here in Portugal. I count several of them as my friends. They are wistful and nostalgic about what they left behind and many still feel hard doneby. Ask them why they didn’t stay and they will quote Zimbabwe and Angola.
They have a ready stock of up to date crime horror stories from relatives who remained in SA. But ask what they knew about the living conditions of the majority in the old times and the conversation becomes touchy.
This is not meant to be naive or politically correct. However the correct yardstick for the success or not of a regime is surely the well being of it’s citizens, all of them.
Well the only other recent expat SA story where I’m very familiar with the details is very much from the nasty end of the spectrum. Family, Indians from Eastern Cape, had to flee SA ten years ago because parents, both judges , were murdered after a run-in with local political boss. I’ve run into as many non-white SA expats over the years (mostly Indian) as whites. Stories broadly similar. I have not run into too many expat blacks but from what I hear the black middle classes have pretty much the same issues as everyone else.
As for my friend it just happens that she is white but she is completely African. It seems her skin color is only a big deal to Europeans and Americans. They are the only ones who are most obsessed with Apartheid era labels. To other Africans her skin color seems to matters not at all. They treat her as a fellow African. I’ve seen this happen on more than one occasion. Especially true with other (non-white) South Africans. I reckon half of her immediate circle are non-white, her best friend from SA is Zulu.
One of the most unexpected (for me) and heartening developments is that at a personal level everyone seems to recognize that they are South Africans first. Skin color, ethic origins and tribe is very much a secondary issue. That is why I think ANC’s recent turn towards more racialist politics is so disgraceful. They always portrayed themselves as the big tent party. But power, especially unchallenged power, quite naturally has corroded those fine founding principals. I consider the Malema phenomenon as very much an indication of how far ANC has been corrupted by power. With a bit of luck they will be seriously challenged in their heartland sooner rather than later. But even so the chance for things going seriously wrong especially in the post Mandela power vacuum is too high at the moment to be discounted. But I have no doubt for the vast majority of South Africans they want to make the country work.
As for the economic condition of the majority blacks. There is no easier answer. There never was. Life in the old days was pretty rough. Lfe now is pretty rough but with a crime rate for blacks almost 5 time what it was before. at one stage back in the 90’s in was almost 10 times. I know all about the many thousands of whites murdered in the last twenty years. I am also very aware of just how horrific the black toll has been over those years. 70,000 was one number I’ve seen. Far far worse than anything the whites suffered. For the average black South African from the townships living in Iraq would have been a safer proposition than where they were for most of the last two decades. Blame for this particular disaster can most definitely be laid at the door of the ANC and their deliberate policy of destroying the police force after taking power. It might have been personally satisfying to the ANC but ultimately incredibly irresponsible. And it was the poor sods in the townships who mostly paid the terrible price.
I think if SA can get through the ANC transition without too much mayhem then the country still has the best chance in Africa of becoming a successful stable country. But it still has a long and very rocky road to go.
It already is a very successful stable country, compared to almost anywhere else in Africa. Yes there is always a political risk but South Africa has many competing parts and a huge role to play in Africa as a whole, I don’t see it disintegrating anytime soon, on the other hand it should be the one that benefits the most from the development of the African economy. On the whole, there is more potential of upside than downside.
Many Durban Indians tick all three boxes - well, not one exactly as their roots are strong in the city. While some entrepreneurs have been spectacularly successful since 1994, the middle classes have good reason to worry about crime and career propects for their kids. On my one and only visit to RSA, the difference between Cape Town and Durban was striking. Even the traffic jams in Durban were unnerving. Some of my in-laws are making the move to Canada this year.
On the other hand, a pleasant surprise for me has been the Rand’s persistent strength since the end of Apartheid. This has also been a source of considerable disappointment to some of my South African colleagues who have been predicting imminent chaos for twenty years.
Yup, expats. Biggest single topic of conversation = crime.
Funnily enough, you don’t hear half as much talk about it when down in South Africa.
I’m not denying it is a huge problem (2 colleagues of mine have been murdered in their own homes for example) but, if you can act smart and protect yourself appropriately, you can live with it. Ordinary South Africans just get on with their lives, the quality of which can be amazingly high (I would have a superb quality of life in Johannesburg for example). There are hundreds of thousands of Europeans now living in South Africa – mainly retirees seeking quality of life. Hardly a vote of no confidence, is it?
I’d recommend that you broaden your reference sources about South Africa jmc, as just talking to white expats tends to give a very one-sided view. Better still, visit! A lot of them have never come to terms with the end of the apartheid system and have a somewhat sickly nostalgia for the ‘good old days’. This is obviously somewhat puke-inducing when you consider the twisted ideology that their formerly privileged position was built on. Again, you hear far less of this claptrap when you’re actually in the country.
The fact that they would all rather be back in S.A. is quite revealing, is it not?
In relation to the first group (the English speakers), it’s a common misconception to assume that they have shallow roots in Africa but a lot of them have been in South Africa for many generations too. What they don’t have is the Afrikaaner spirit – I mean this in both a positive and a negative sense. In general, they would have been a far more liberal bunch than the Boers during the apartheid days (very few of them would have been actively involved in the state security police repression apparatus for example) and would have kept their heads down, generally working away in the professions. The Boers are an awfully pig-headed bunch in a lot of ways, fiercely conservative and traditional, but they do have an emotional connection to the land itself that the English population would not feel as strongly.
I’m probably not explaining this point very well – I recommend you read Riaan Malan’s book ‘A Traitor’s Heart’ to get a better feel for what I’m talking about.
All I can say to you is that conflating S.A. and Zim is a mistake. People have been predicting armageddon for twenty years and they have been proved incorrect. South Africa is a functioning democracy, robustly capitalist in outlook, with a free and highly vociferous media and an aggressively independent judiciary. There are 5 million white citizens as opposed to a handful in Zimbabwe. Again, I would urge you to broaden your sources of reference from someone you once had a chat with!
jmc, I’m guessing you have never been to Johannesburg. Nobody who has would make the above comments which are verging on daft I’m afraid. Gauteng is not just the industrial and financial powerhouse of South Africa, it’s the powerhouse for most of the continent. Rather than being in decline, it’s positively booming.
There have been a few spectacular wobbles in that time! But broadly yes, the Rand has been a solid currency.
All the same, S.A. represents a much better bet economically than, I don’t know, Ireland for example.
Trevor Manuel deserves huge credit for his work as Finance Minister (lots of people would put his contribution to post-apartheid South Africa second only to that of Madiba). Not one cent had to be put into the South African banks by the taxpayer
absolutely - and the outlook for sub-Saharan Africa itself is largely positive too.
Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia are just some of the countries that I can think of where South African firms are doing huge deals at present. And Zimbabwe too, believe it or not (massive opportunities there right now, the big issue is obviously political risk)
by the way, whenever you see commentary about ‘political risk insurance’ in a South African’s corporates accounts (typically a miner) - this translates as ‘hiring mercenaries’
Africa is a fun place.