Related: I give you the future of South Africa
The following article ties up nicely with Angulus Calx' previous article. The first of two articles by a Moneyweb jounalist, this one is his opinion on how things may spiral out of control in SA, and into the abyss into the not too distant future.
JOHANNESBURG - The low road spiralling down into a dystopian nightmare is one of two extreme scenarios in store for South Africa.
This is frighteningly possible, especially if the African National Congress (ANC) gathers power exponentially with each successive general election. Given some of the scary opinions, ridiculous acts and absurd values expressed by members of the ANC and its obstreperous Yoof Leeg, one can't help drawing parallels between the ruling party's elite and their comrade north of the Limpopo in his presidential palace.
Let's not forget two crucial, but conveniently abandoned precepts Robert Mugabe espoused in 1980: "reconciliation" and "pragmatism". Nowhere else in the world today can any head of state hope to make greater mockery of these two sacrosanct principles. Despite having a few university degrees, Mugabe and his tyrannical troop believe Zimbabwe is an "emancipated democracy". The ANC continues to serenade him as a "great African liberator", which is deeply worrying because it smacks of a desire to emulate Comrade Bob.
It might not be too long before our leaders conveniently forget our intricate political negotiations of 1993 and the subsequent formation of a government of national unity a year later. Many of our elected parliamentarians cloister ambitions to rewrite our constitution and promulgate draconian laws.
When the ruling party's slow-dancing with its alliance sweethearts, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, one senses it's capable of introducing greater censorship (including media oppression), police-state authoritarianism (meaning greater police brutality and detention without trial) and nationalisation of land, mines and businesses (meaning drastically poorer national productivity, wealth generation, innovation and job creation).
The poignant sight of an inconsolable Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings stirred our nation a few years ago. Because of Tutu, many of us not only plumbed a greater depth of our common humanity, but also reminded ourselves how deeply shameful and hurtful much of our history has been since 1652.
The dehumanising policies of apartheid were despicable. The resulting hurt and hatred will take generations to transmute into forgiveness and acceptance. Many humans find it difficult to forgive. In the case of the ANC and many black folk, the onerous journey towards absolution and reconciliation makes them vulnerable to the pitfalls of self-interest, resentment, blame, vindictiveness and persecution. In their case, it could swell into an unwieldy Blacklash Syndrome epitomised by dastardly deeds to disempower and marginalise white South Africans, many of whom already feel wholly disenfranchised.
Logically, the next step on the road to perdition is to continue disintegrating white economic power. Whites still bare the brunt of the tax burden, so why not tax them further. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan recently proposed this punitive notion. While Gordhan didn't single out whites, it's axiomatic that additional taxes will mostly drain overburdened middle-class whites, many of whom could be destined to fall into the underclass.
As the ANC government's totalitarian surge gathers momentum, it'll be happy to steal additional productive farmland from hardworking farmers. Similarly, the government will seize profitable mining houses and strategic companies like Sasol, which help to secure our energy independence and sizeable inflows of export revenues. At best, it'll insist on 50:50 state-private sector partnerships, provided the regime can appoint directors and mastermind business strategies.
One illogical political intervention and one crippling statute after another, the ANC will steer South Africa progressively deeper into political and economic realms more frightening than purgatory. As unemployment approaches 60%-70% (rather than the current 25%-40%), the regime will relax education standards and allow poorly skilled teachers to run (down) our classrooms. Our already ailing state healthcare system will collapse, as will most of our education, correctional and welfare systems.
Eskom might plunder us into greater spells of darkness (assuming we can afford its stratospheric tariffs), while irreparable and abandoned Transnet locomotives will choke our vital export lines to Richards Bay, Durban and Cape Town. Many of our parastatals already are in disarray and at risk of slumping deeper into executive mismanagement and plundering.
Before long, the state coffers will slowly diminish, especially if the ruling elite can't halt the ever-expanding gravy train. Minister Trevor Manuel was smug about buying a R1.2m BMW, despite our president tasking him to reinvigorate the government's sluggish delivery programme.
In a potential dystopian scenario, one can only imagine True Loverman will be more passionate about delivering a better class of ministerial wheels to his comrades. If South Africa is a bottomless pit, why didn't he extend himself by procuring something more ministerial like a Bentley or Maybach?
While Jay-Zee and his accountability-exempt Blingmeisters take chauffeur-driven rides in bulletproof cars worth more than R3m and each spend R1m a year on personal protection and a few bars on home renovations, state pensions and grants will diminish, as will poor black and white communities' hopes of having basic services, part-time employment and modest housing. If you think today's crime's petrifying, greater unemployment, poverty and resentment will make Gotham City pale into insignificance compared with our cities.
We'll see increasing poverty in our arts and on our sport fields. Not every artist is a Van Gogh or Plath, able to thrive on suicidal inclinations, so increasing individual and collective angst and depression will extinguish much of our creative spirit. For those courageous enough to muster the creative and political might, their works will be grimmer and at great risk of being destroyed by politburo thugs.
Political tyranny and economic atrophy inevitably trigger greater environmental abuse. Despite the hot air about to envelope Copenhagen, our Blingmeisters will renege on their commitments to reduce our contributions to global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. Like Eastern European factories and mines during the Cold War, our industries will be free to pollute our precious soil, water and atmosphere.
Hungry poachers will slaughter large amounts of wildlife. Food- and energy-deprived rural communities will cut down greater amounts of trees, which we need to process some of our carbon-dioxide emissions. Poorer rural folk will fell trees to use as firewood and earn meagre income from city folk who can't afford solar heating panels or Eskom tariffs.
In this scenario, we'll have written our own disquieting requiem, The Wasteland. Besides the politburo elite and a few conniving capitalists, who'll evade the regime's radar scans, we'll be impoverished, impotent and immobilised without foreign tourists arriving to read the "Welcome to Dystopia" signs rendered in all 11 official languages (assuming there's an equivalent of the D-word in Pedi).
For a more cheerful view, read about South Africa's high-road scenario next Friday.
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