Trouble brewing in South Africa … 102209.pdf

At the moment all efforts are going into preparing for the World Cup next year. Its the best chance they have for a strong economic future. If the world cup is a disaster though, I can see there being a lot of trouble.

Also, don’t forget that the election in April was the first election since the end of Apartheid that the share of the vote to the ANC actually decreased. As well, unlike Mugabe being a leader in fighting for independence for Rhodesia/Zimbabwe , Zuma wasn’t a leading light in opposing Apartheid.

South Africa is doomed. Give it another few years and it’ll be a match for Zimbabwe, a burnt out shell of it’s former self, .Rhodesia.

Here’s a link to the original Peter Hitchens article.

The failure is on display with embarrassing clarity at Cape Town’s airport, currently being expanded to cope with tourism and the surge in traffic expected during next year’s World Cup. Arriving passengers cannot avoid seeing the shanty towns that have now spread almost to the airport perimeter and which crowd up to the edge of the smooth First World freeway into the city. This is symbolically important because Cape Town, with its smart new waterfront and lavish, shaded suburbs, is the Potemkin Village of post-Apartheid South Africa. Unlike the viciously dangerous and ugly Johannesburg, where you can be robbed between the arrival lounge and the airport hotel, Cape Town tries to preserve a sense of order, civility, and optimism.

It is the stronghold of the other important opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, whose leader, Helen Zille, has proved an effective, clean, and popular mayor. There are historic reasons for this. The DA, until recently mainly white, has managed to win serious support among the confusingly named Cape Colored community, which is strong in this part of the country. Though her ancestry is in fact German, she has become impressively African. She can slip effortlessly between English and Afrikaans, the language of the “colored” community and also of the old hardline Afrikaners. Better still, she can speak fluent Xhosa, the tongue of what has until now been the most important black African grouping. It is as impressive to watch her speak as it is unimpressive to watch Jacob Zuma.

He regurgitates the leaden slogans of the ANC’s Communist-trained apparatus. It is only when he sings “Bring me My Machine Gun” that he comes to life at all. It was also the only time when his audience in Springbok stopped chattering and listened to him. Zille, whom I found at a university rally in the vineyard-surrounded town of Stellenbosch, is by contrast lively, witty, and sharp. If this contest were about ideas and character instead of machines, tribes, and loyalty, she would win. She is also sensibly pessimistic, and her ambitions are limited. She has no hopes of beating the ANC’s juggernaut and openly acknowledges that at this stage all she can do is begin to create a broad opposition. “The closed crony system,” she warns, “leads to power abuse and eventually to a criminal state.” She urges her supporters to concentrate on reducing the ANC’s vote and to get the ruling party used to the idea of real democracy. Otherwise it will misuse its excessive power—something she warns “inevitably leads to Zimbabwe.”

…For Jacob Zuma is a living symbol of what many have feared South Africa would become. Earlier this month, he finally escaped a threat of prosecution on corruption charges—connected with the infamous arms deal—which have hung over him for many years. Alas for South African justice and the rule of the law, Zuma was not acquitted in court. The charges were cancelled by a state bureaucracy, the national Prosecuting Authority. Zuma’s good friend Schabir Shaik, who was in fact convicted of corruption and imprisoned, was recently released on medical grounds—for a procedure supposedly only available to the terminally ill, which he is not—amid howls of skeptical derision. Jackie Selebi, the national police commissioner, is famous for asking, “What’s all the fuss about?” when taxed with the country’s appalling levels of crime and violence. He is currently suspended, accused of having a “generally corrupt relationship” with a convicted drug smuggler and also “defeating the ends of justice.”…

…He is a proud polygamist, with four living wives and 18 children. He has already considered how to cope with this tricky detail when working out which of his spouses will be first lady. He explains, “There is no First Lady. If there is an occasion, one day we will have the wife we are with, another day we will have another one.” He rather winningly defends his domestic arrangement by saying of his more conventional critics: “Many of them have wives, girlfriends, and children that they try to hide. I love all my wives and children and I’m proud of them, so I’m completely open about it.”

He is almost wholly politically incorrect. During a trial for rape in which he was acquitted, he famously claimed to have avoided the danger of HIV by taking a shower afterward, which suggests that his government’s policy on this problem may not be much of an advance over its predecessors’ approach. He has been publicly rude about homosexuals and homosexual marriage. (He was compelled to retract.) He also hinted that he might favor a return of the death penalty.

It will be very difficult for American and European progressives to pretend that he is one of them. He is wholly and completely African, a Big Man of the traditional sort, jovial, powerful, faintly menacing, happy to be borne about in high-speed processions of big black Mercedes-Benz cars. In this he is like all too many of his brother presidents in the sad zone of lawlessness, greed, and despair that stretches northward from the banks of the Limpopo River to the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and which South Africa was never supposed to join.

Let us hope they do not bring him his machine gun.

Impressive scaremongering there…

  • Joburg is without doubt a dangerous place if you don’t take precautions, but its massively exaggerated as to how dangerous it is there.
  • Afrikaans isn’t the language of the coloured community, its the language of the dutch settlers, that now all South Africans speak fluently as it was compulsory thought to all (white|coloured|black) in school
  • Most white south africans I’ve met have at least a decent ability with one “black” language. Some are fluent in a couple of them
  • Crime and violence figures are appalling, but you can happily live there for years without being exposed to any of it. Most of it happens in the townships which most foreigners won’t be exposed to other than in guided tours. I’ve driven through Soweto with the car windows down and a satnav on the dash on a saturday afternoon, and nobody paid us any attention
  • Without doubt there’s corruption within the ANC government, but who couldn’t have predicted it given the past history of the country, and its relative wealth compared to other african countries.

I agree there is the possibility it could become the next Zimbabwe if some social progress isn’t made, but overall I think the future of the country is relatively good

Have you ever driven in to the city centre from the airport in Mumbai or Kolkata? Shannty towns, slums a sign of poverty not creeping dictatorship. I’ve no doubt there are serious problems in South Africa, for the moment the ANC probably have more in common with Fianna Fail than ZANU PF or Derg in Ethiopia.

wow, some serious misconceptions above: ‘If the WC is failure SA will go down the tubes’. What the hell?

I’m posting this from (very sunny) Johannesburg, South Africa where I spend a lot of my time working for a major South African bank

I (and many SA inhabitants) was very wary of Zuma when he was the heir apparent to Mbeki (alleged rape case, Shabir Sheik case, general air of sleaziness and corruption not to mention worst populist impluses etc etc) but it’s fair to say that he has surprised massively on the upside since taking office. Corrupt and incompetent officials are being swept out by the bucketload, literally on a daily basis (the mayor of Tshwane has got the boot today). He’s also taken a far more pro-active line on Zimbabwe. White middle-class South Africans are currently amongst his biggest cheerleaders (at least a dozen have told me how great he is in the last day or two) - this would have been unthinkable a year ago.

The South African economy is managing its way through the global recession pretty well. It’s the industrial powerhouse for 2/3 of a continent. Not a single bank has required government support (compare and contrast to basket case Ireland). Their property bubble has well and truly burst, at mortgage rates of 13% not particularly surprising!

No-one would deny that there are massive social problems here; income and wealth disparities can be truly shocking to the Western observer, AIDS is a scourge upon the country, lingering racism survives, education standards vary massively. Crime levels are terrifying. Yet, there is tremendous vibrancy to this rainbow nation - my colleagues speak over a dozen languages and all rub along together pretty well, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, every shade of Christian, blacks, browns, whites - and it remains a great place to do business. SA is a shock to your system but once you get past your preconceptions and biases, it really is a fantastic place to visit and live. And the food is amongst the best in the world!

I keep being invited to move here permanently; looking at the mess that Ireland has become and the morass that we are sinking into further by the day, this option becomes more and more attractive.