In terms of retrieving South Africa from its downward spiral under the ANC, when she was DA leader Helen Zille marked 2019 as the turning point to commence the reversal of the rot. Sadly and unfortunately 2019 has not proved the watershed year that was hoped for.
Zille’s view was based on the extent to which governance and State-Owned Enterprises could be salvaged after 25 years of ANC corruption and looting. The key to Zille’s strategy was for the DA to succeed in cutting the ANC’s share of the national vote below the 50% mark while also gaining provincial control of Gauteng and possibly the Northern Cape. That along with control of key metros and the already established DA base in the Western Cape was how the political landscape was envisaged.
Much has been written about the failure of the DA to achieve that goal. In brief, Zille’s strategy was upended by the DA itself: internal ferment – the De Lille episode, DA support for B-BBEE and the unconvincing leadership of Maimane along with voter discontent with DA councillor performance, resulted in the DA losing almost 500,000 votes in the May 8 election.
The Freedom Front certainly benefited from the DA’s own goals. But it also benefited from being the only party to embrace merit as its cornerstone policy and its call for the abolition of B-BBEE. Those two policy standpoints resonated with discerning voters of all races and consequently forced the DA to review and revise its political direction. Following the resignation of Maimane as DA leader, interim DA leader John Steenhuizen has already indicated his preference for merit-based advancement. But he has a hard road of damage control to travel.
While the 250% increase in support for the Freedom Front – 414,000 votes nationally and an increase from 4 to 10 MPs in the National Assembly along with improved provincial representation – is to be applauded, the plight of South Africa under continued ANC misrule is extremely worrying. Indeed, that plight is exemplified by the state of Eskom. Mired in debt of R450 billion, unable to collect payment from several municipalities (the majority of which, in any case, are bankrupt), critically in arrears in terms of necessary maintenance and hobbled by affirmative action labour policies, the plight of Eskom epitomises ANC ineptitude and corruption. From having a 40% capacity of spare power in 1994 to having to indulge in load-shedding because it no longer has the capacity to keep the whole country electrified at the same time, the massive negative economic effect of that mismanagement alone should disqualify the ANC from power. As Oxford historian and author, RW Johnson has stated, the ANC is “the most destructive force ever inflicted on South Africa.”
2019 was also supposed to be the year in which Cyril Ramaphosa as the new President would have a positive influence on the country’s direction. During the election campaign, there were voices which urged voting for Ramaphosa in that hope. But apart from a small reduction in the size of the Cabinet and the dismissal of some rogue elements from their posts, the anticipated cleansing of the Augean stables has not happened. Of course, some claim that Ramaphosa has to tread warily because of the opposition of Zuma supporters within the ANC, and, therefore, we must be patient.
Such thinking is naïve. Regardless of the internal shambles within the ANC and the different factions, the basic aim of the ANC remains intact. It is committed to its long-held aim of implementing what it calls the national democratic revolution [NDR]. The NDR, as Anthea Jeffery explains in her vitally important book The People’s War, is a 40-year project to transform South Africa into a Marxist, one-party state in which all land, resources and industry are state-controlled. 2019 marked the 25th year of that 40-year plan which adheres loyally to the 1955 Freedom Charter drawn up by Ben Turok, Joe Slovo and other communists.
Like Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe, who were both billionaires despite their communist roots, Ramaphosa, also a billionaire, has no problem advancing key aspects of the NDR. Specifically the expropriation of land without compensation and the imposition of the national health dispensation [NHI]. State capture is still the ultimate aim. In the name of so-called transformation, it is well-advanced. Comrades and cadres have control of vast areas of national life, particularly over education. Thanks to ANC today, Iqbal Surve, a large section of the press, the so-called Independent Media, has already been captured for and by the ANC. Nationalising of sport is the latest indication of that direction.
Recently it has been said that the National Prosecuting Authority, headed by Shamila Batohi, is poised to take down the big guns involved in state capture and corruption. If that process comes about, it will demonstrate that at least the Judiciary has not succumbed to the forces that control the legislative and executive arms of government. It would also breathe some hope into our blighted situation and possibly stem the flight of skills and capital. That has to be the big hope of 2020.
Beyond that, however, it should be obvious that complacency and acceptance of the situation is not an option. Fight Back has to be a daily commitment and not just an election slogan. In whatever way and in whatever field of expertise or operation one is involved, one must strive for what is right and proper.
Sent into The Mercury and published, 31 December 2019.