How Long Will South Africa Survive? - July 2015
Today many South Africans are feeling despair and have little hope about the future of South Africa. Guy, sent me an email called How Long Will South Africa Survive? - I felt the need to share the body of his letter with you. With warmth and hope - Di Smith
I attended a braai recently; where the majority of people were Black estate agents from ReMax. There were also some white partners from Venns, some of whom tend to get very upset with the state of the country and not surprisingly, for the Government and Municipalities are in a mess.
One of Venn’s partners said, "If I was 20 years younger, I would certainly be leaving the country". These sorts of comments have made me consider my position.
Firstly, I read the book which my son Paul suggested: "How Long Will South Africa Survive?" by RW Johnson, who takes the facts and lays them out before you and comes to a few conclusions. He deals in depth with the corruption in South Africa, Zuma and the Chief like role he has adopted, the tribalism that has crept in and the incompetence of our government, state run businesses and the municipalities. The conclusions he reaches are backed up by facts. He even suggests that we could follow the Mugabian route and sees us drowning in debt to the extent that we may have to, in time, look to the International Monitory Fund (IMF) for assistance - a sad scenario of a once proud country with a strong economy. The following conclusions are quoted from his book:
"This book (How Long Will South Africa Survive?) arrives at the conclusions which it does, through what I hope is objective economic, social and historical analysis. I am not, in any case, a Cassandra, who enjoys the prediction of disaster. I have always found that however dire a prognosis one may reach, if it makes realistic and rational sense, it is always better to face the truth and deal with things, as they really are. It is also why I am more optimistic than many. However much the ANC may resist an IMF bailout, many countries (including Britain) have had to go through that experience. They all survive it and some, at least, are the better for it.
Secondly, South Africa has had 6 presidents in the last 25 years. That, plus Mbeki's eviction when he tried to overstay his welcome, make it all but certain that South Africa will not fall prey to the phenomenon of the "President-for-Life" which has done so much to destroy democracy elsewhere in Africa.
Third, although this analysis highlights a huge failure of governance by the ANC, it also suggests the penalty for what will indeed be a regime change, of some kind. That is surely as it should be, if accountability matters.
Finally, it seems to me that a fundamental fact of South African History is that the struggle for Black liberation temporarily empowered a radical left elite without real roots in the Black majority. That is, the situation is rather like Portugal after the overthrow of the fascist regime of Salazar and Caetano by the armed forces movement, led by Major Otelo de Carvalho and Major Bitor Alves. Both men of the revolutionary left. After more than 50 years of fascism, there briefly seemed to be the possibility that Portugal would lurch straight from the far right, to the far left but before long, the underlying social realities inserted themselves. Portugal was, after all, a Catholic European country. In 1976, Mario Soares, a social democrat, was elected as president and thereafter the Portuguese were left with a familiar choice between Christian and democratic conservatives and social democrats.
South Africa too, endured almost 50 years of apartheid rule and, mainly because of its resolute rejection of even the most modest reformism, the SACP was able to gain ground within the African Nationalist Movement. There was strong resistance to this – Robert Sobukwe split away from the ANC, to form the PAC in protest and even though Albert Luthuli, the ANC leader, accepted the alliance with the SACP, he himself was a Christian liberal, who abhorred violence. Nevertheless, by 1961, a leftward version of the ANC became dominant, launched the arms struggle and by 1994, had come to power.
Yet this version of the ANC is actually strongly at variance with majority Black opinion, let alone the opinion of the minorities. The evidence of all the public opinions is that support for the SACP has never risen above 2%; that Black, White and South Africans, are all overwhelmingly Christians; that most Black opinion is socially conservative (far more so than the White opinion); wanting the return of the death penalty; disliking abortion; taking a somewhat traditional view of women's role; gay rights and so forth. Moreover, such surveys showed that a large majority of Black opinion wanted consensus, not interracial conflict and would like to see a solution backed by Whites and the business community.
In that sense, the whole ANC experiment is top heavy. As we have seen, in power, the ANC has actually become more chiefly, more tribal, a giant federation of political bosses, held together by patronage, clientelism and concomitant, looting and corruption. This has created a political regime which is quite incapable of managing and developing a modern state. It may take great social convulsions to change that because the groups now in power will not easily let go of it. Indeed, had they played their cards more cleverly, they might have consolidated their rule. But in fact they have done the opposite. The result is an imminent crisis on many fronts. So, somewhere out ahead of us lies a regime change towards a form of government that is closer to South Africa's underlying sociological realities. My own hope – supported by a certain optimism – is that, as in Portugal, this will ultimately see the consolidation of liberal democracy, here in South Africa, too."
Worth reading, for it will also then put one's own life into perspective. As was the page that I read this morning, in one of my favourite books, Zen Dust – A Journey Through the Back Roads of South Africa, by Anthony Osler. He has the following to say:
"Many South Africans live insecurely here, anxious about what the future will bring. It is an uncomfortable way to live and of course it doesn't work - this futile attempt to protect ourselves from discomfort and loss. But we also have to accept this fearfulness; it doesn't help to blame ourselves for feeling that way, creating yet another layer of suffering. When we can accept our own vulnerability, we are fee to dive into the aliveness of each moment and the terrors disappear by themselves. This is Zen practice. Not looking to protect ourselves but standing upright in the midst of our fears. When the Korean Zen Master, Seung Shan, was told about the Indian guru who was advising his clients to flee the West Coast of the United States because he predicted an earthquake there (which didn't happen) Dae Soen Sa Nim said only: 'Then who will be left to help those who are suffering?"
I may say, being married to Di, I have accepted that we will be one of those who will be here to help those who are suffering. Each needs to make their own choice and be comfortable with it.
Zweli Vavi and organisations such as Section 27 and The Right 2 Know Campaign are calling on South Africans to rally, in a non-political march, for a corruption-free South Africa. There is to be a march in Cape Town on the 7th August and a march to the Union Buildings on the 19th August 2015. It’s set to be the biggest march since 1994.
Can’t make it to either of the marches? Here’s the good news – you can still be a part of history! You can join the Online March for a corruption-free South Africa.
Together SA organised the first Online March last year to support Thuli Mandonsela and the work of the Public Protector. Over 204 000 people were reached through social media.
Imagine a million people and more joining the Online March? All you need to do is add your voice to the declaration for a corruption-free South Africa. This declaration will be handed over at the Union Buildings on the 19th August.
Feeling uncertain about the future of our country? It is time for us to stand up, together, united, to build the country we all want. Make your stand, add your voice, be one of the millions supporting this declaration.
South Africans Positively Influencing the Future.