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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

How Long will South Africa Survive?

Hidden away in the depths of we find this gem by R W Johnson... I'm now waiting for the backlash labeling him a racist, imperialist, colonialist evil white pig for daring to say just how badly the ANC is screwing up...

How Long will South Africa Survive?

Everything suggests that South Africa under the ANC is fast slipping backward and that the survival of South Africa as a unitary state cannot be taken for granted.

In 1977, RW Johnson’s best-selling How Long Will South Africa Survive? provided a controversial and highly original analysis of the survival prospects of apartheid.

Now, after more than twenty years of ANC rule, he believes the situation has become so critical that the question must be posed again.

Excerpt from this book published with permission from Jonathan Ball publishers. You can purchase a copy of the book from
Power in an ungoverned society
The great unknown in the ANC’s conquest of power in 1994 was how an African nationalist party would deal with governing a modern urban society and a developed economy.
This was a challenge that African nationalism had not had to face anywhere else in Africa.
The answer is now clear: the ANC has failed to rise to that challenge. It has in general found the running of a modern state way beyond its capacities.
It has not even managed to preserve an adequate power supply, that most basic essential of a modern society – even though it found, on attaining office, that it had a 25 per cent over-supply of electric power.

The towns and cities which the ANC controls are all in a state of advanced decay. This is true not just of Transkei towns like Mbizana and Mthatha, but even of Johannesburg.

Despite the fact that it is still the hub of private sector investment, the city staggers from crisis to crisis.
Its roads are marked by potholes and failed traffic lights, the city and suburbs by power cuts, water cut-offs and overgrown verges.
The municipality seems incapable of billing its citizens correctly and city finances are a mess. The public hospitals don’t work, policing is poor and crime is rampant.
Prior to 1994 Johannesburg was undoubtedly Africa’s premier city. In the main the city, like the country, is now ungoverned.

The ANC-led provincial governments work equally poorly. The most potent symbol of this is the long-running scandal of the Limpopo provincial government’s inability to deliver school textbooks to schools.

The fact that the national minister of education, situated in nearby Pretoria, found herself unable to have any effect on the situation only emphasised the government’s impotence.
A study by the Centre for Development and Enterprise revealed that South Africa had the worst public school system in the entire developing world.
South Africa notably under-performed many poorer countries, suggesting that lack of resources was not the critical variable.
The typical ANC excuse is to blame ‘the legacy of apartheid’, but this makes no sense: all these services worked far better under apartheid.
The national government doesn’t really govern. Partly this is because many ministers – and this has been visible since the very outset in 1994 – devote little time and energy to their ministries.
Probably the dominant ministerial activities since 1994 have been foreign travel and the observation of celebrations or rituals of one kind or another.

There is a constant round of party events – conferences, rallies, indabas, imbizos,22 national celebrations, commemorations, funerals and anniversaries.

Even extremely minor events such as the launch of a new brochure or programme are used as an excuse for lavish parties. Previously sedate occasions like the opening of Parliament are turned into major jamborees, replete with dressed-to-kill partying.

Ministers spend unconscionable amounts on luxury cars, first-class travel, bodyguards, private airplanes – and often on large newspaper adverts boasting of their activities and featuring large portraits of themselves. Inevitably, all this has been aped by provincial ministers and even by municipal officers.
Far out in the wilds of Limpopo or northern Zululand one can find huge placard posters at the roadside featuring the smiling face of some obscure provincial minister accompanying banal announcements of local maintenance or improvement programmes.
One is left in little doubt that the main point of the advert is the minister’s (or mayor’s) own ego.
Why ungoverned?

The government also doesn’t govern because it cannot. In effect the ‘transformation’of the civil service has destroyed it.

Apart from occasional oases of expertise – usually in the treasury, central bank or tax collection service – the civil service has been stripped not only of competent personnel but also of its institutional memory. Instead it has become a free-fire field for ‘cadre deployment’ and every kind of political and familial nepotism and cronyism.

One result has been colossal expenditure on outside consultants who perform many of the tasks that civil servants should but couldn’t do.

Second, the government has tried to get the private sector to do its work for it.

A great deal of legislation – including everything to do with affirmative action and black economic empowerment – has been written in terms that require all manner of performance from the private sector and merely empower the minister to punish non-compliers.
Similarly, mining legislation consists mainly of telling mining companies what to do in great detail under pain of dire punishment – and granting the minister large and vague discretionary powers so as to make the entire sector dependent on ministerial good will.
Third, the government doesn’t govern because it simply isn’t much interested in the job.
Only a few, rare ministers such as the minister of health, Aaron Motsoaledi, appear to be driven by a passion for their work.
Mainly, however, the focus of presidents and ministers alike is on the life of the ANC, its anniversaries, its rules and discipline, its national and regional conferences, its moods and its factions.
Essentially, this is the body within which they have lived their lives, the body to which they owe their positions and power. And it is not just an organisation; it is a family, a history, an emotional home.
Accordingly, they pay it far closer attention than anything in government.

Ministers invariably give precedence to party meetings and occasions over state duties.
This tendency has reached an apogee under Zuma, partly because the defenestration of Mbeki showed what the penalties were for ignoring the balance of forces within the ANC or misjudging its factions and personalities.

After all, Mbeki had forbidden the building of power stations and seen the country eclipsed by the catastrophe of major power cuts.

He had also been responsible for hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths because of his refusal to allow anti-Aids drugs to be distributed to HIV sufferers.
Mbeki had also supported Mugabe’s regime of torture and murder next door. Yet the fact was that none of this brought him down.
The ANC was willing to forgive or ignore all of it.
What did for Mbeki was that he ignored the ANC’s understood codes of conduct: he humiliated and expelled his popular deputy president, he ignored the rules of comradeship and solidarity – and he asserted his individual power against the most powerful factions, enraging them.

Keen on reading more? Purchase a copy of How Long will South Africa survive? Visit

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u.

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