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The ANC has betrayed Nelson Mandela South Africa is facing its Venezuela moment

His legacy remains elusive. Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

His legacy remains elusive. Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images


December 4, 2023   6 mins

Ten years after his death, the legacy of Nelson Mandela, for those few South Africans who bother to think about it, remains elusive. To many, he embodied a lost civility in interracial politics, a generosity of spirit, an unswerving faith in the Rainbow Nation. To others, especially a new generation of black extremists mustered under the banner of Radical Economic Transformation (RET), he was merely an old man who suffered much to little effect: he was too forgiving.

Such views miss the significance of the man who, together with former president Frederik Willem de Klerk, helped steer his country away from imminent disaster. The tragedy now playing out in the Middle East should remind South Africans how fortunate they were to have such visionaries at a unique moment in national history.

Mandela had three things going for him: he was a decent man; his long incarceration had kept him untainted by all the bad things that happened during his liberation movement; and, crucially, his only five-year term in office came while the sinews of the civil and security services of the departed apartheid system could still hold the state together — in a sense they bore him on their hands. His successors had no such luck.

Yet the former president had little interest in, or understanding of, the minutiae of government. He governed by halo reputation, charm and an engaging naiveté. All problems could be dismissed with an incomparable smile and a witty comment. It could not last of course; not in a multi-riven country like South Africa.

When I was editor of the South African Sunday Times during the political transition of the mid-Nineties, I engaged Mandela often, not always frictionlessly. He once chose to use a meeting of national editors to accuse white editors of telling black reporters what to write, which I pointed out was more demeaning to the latter than the former.

The subsequent frostiness was partly alleviated when I invited him to be the patron of a Sunday Times-sponsored expedition to put the first South African woman and the new flag atop Mount Everest. The expedition went haywire when its mercurial leader split the party at Base Camp 4, leaving only him and the two women members of the team to assail the heights. Our circulation rocketed but it fell to me to fly to Cape Town to tell our Patron the bad news.

“You mean the women are still prepared to go on?” Mandela asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Then my patronage stands. Give them my best wishes.”

The policy legacies of his 111-year-old African National Congress (ANC) have, sadly, been neither as decisive nor noble. In a May 1990 address to the Consultative Business Movement, four years before taking office, Mandela sketched the broad strategic political and economic views of the ANC, emphasising the importance of full employment, maximum productivity, social consciousness, partnership between state and business, the growth of small businesses and of land reform. Although predictably heavy on old-style dirigisme, he insisted that nationalisation and redistribution weren’t the only words in the ANC vocabulary. “It is important that we should stop propagating the gloomy picture of South Africa that, as it is said, will inevitably sink into the economic crisis that afflicts many African countries,” he said.

How has that worked out for South Africa, after nearly 30 years of ANC rule? The party to which Mandela belonged now faces its Venezuela moment after ignoring for decades the catastrophic impact of its administrative, ideological and race-based preferment policies. The Government’s recent Medium Term Budget Statement (MTBPS) illustrates this in a nutshell. In the first six months of the financial year, the main budget deficit has grown by more than 50% to a chasmic R53 billion (£2.2 billion). On this trajectory, South Africa will have to repay R242.5 billion (£10.2 billion) a year in finance charges.

To blame are runaway spending on benefits (45% of South Africans receive social grants) and public service salaries (on average nearly twice as much as in the private sector), matched by a huge drop in taxes due to industries crippled by power interruptions (forfeiting 5% of GDP) and collapsing port facilities (another 4.9%). Economic growth has stalled at 0.1% and unemployment is at 32%, its highest ever, while a recent World Bank Report claims 10% of GDP is being robbed through crime. About 36% of water in most municipalities is lost through broken pipes and nearly one fifth of the electricity sold by the national energy provider to municipalities is stolen through illegal connections in informal settlements.

Meanwhile, vast amounts of state resources have been ploughed into stimulating micro and small businesses and rural co-operatives in line with Mandela’s vision. This has been overwhelmingly wasted through incompetence, corruption or indifference at both donor and recipient level. The latest, a mega-farm project for the Khutso-Naketsi Community Property Association, has collapsed through state tardiness and corruption by the trustees. Elsewhere, a lodestar job-creation programme is stalled due to a corruption probe, while KwaZulu Natal’s largest development agency, the 60-year-old Ithala, is poised to have its core functions closed by the prudential authorities because it has failed to report for two years. Its target customers are black youth and women.

Compared with middle-income countries, South Africa has a depressingly low number of black-owned micro, small and medium businesses. It is understandable: why bother starting your own business when the state will extort somebody else’s equity in an existing one on your behalf or, better still, grant you huge government subsidies that hardly hit the company accounts before ending up as a deposit on a SUV?

Mandela’s optimism was thus grievously wrong. And here lies the tragedy: inheriting a battered apartheid economy, Mandela and to a lesser extent his successor, Thabo Mbeki, appointed excellent finance ministers who pursued disciplined and productive spending in close co-operation with the business sector. That boosted growth and employment, bought significant benefits to the previously marginalised, and, at one point in the early 2000s, even wiped out the deficit and paid down apartheid-era loans. A still-competent state and parastatal network, capable of massive scaling to meet the new demands, was in place. Deep capital markets and an enviable skills base were available. The Australia (or Singapore) of Africa was ostensibly aborning.

But that promise was never fulfilled. The failure was largely the result of the ANC’s policy of racial preference in employment, investment, scholarships, tendering and trading. Under the guise of being a development project, black economic empowerment, or its buzzword, “transformation”, has been perverted into a multi-tentacled succubus, draining the economic life of the country and supporting a one-way flow of state sanctioned, expropriated wealth into the hands of a monstrously hungry and unproductive new business and public service elite comprising slightly more than 1% of the population. Exactly what Mandela did not want.

This so-called empowerment process has different iterations. One was the prototypic past endowment by white capitalists of swathes of equity on selected black leaders — the incumbent President is merely the most luminous of the many beneficiaries. Another is “cadre deployment” which has seen the drafting of large numbers of direly incompetent and corrupt party “cadres” into the public service and the State Operated Entities. At every conceivable level of state administration party, “tenderpreneurs” have inserted themselves as pestilential middlemen. According to a recent report by Ricardo Hausmann of Harvard’s Growth Lab, these operators have raised the cost of state purchasing by 20% without a scintilla of benefit to anybody but themselves. The empowerment system, meanwhile, has cost approximately 3% of GDP. Crime, corruption, cronyism and cluelessness are thus robbing the country of nearly a quarter of its GDP, and this in a country not even at war. Ukraine, besieged and a third occupied, by comparison, lost 30% of GDP last year.

The empowerment system underwrote South Africa’s so-called State Capture phase which flourished under the malignant reign of former president Jacob Zuma and involved crippling levels of embezzlement of state resources. Despite facing countless criminal charges in the High Courts, Zuma is being quietly rehabilitated into ANC structures to retain the Zulu vote. A disemboweled national prosecuting service, meanwhile, has been unable to land a single high-level conviction in five years.

Yet, typically, the ANC remains unbowed by its spectacular failures, preferring to fall back onto its default posture of blaming apartheid, the private sector and whites. Indeed, with a contentious general election looming next year in which it may lose its overall majority, the ANC is doubling down on its race preference policies and on social spending: a national basic income grant now looms and, against Treasury advice, an early implementation of legislation to allow pensioners to draw down some of their pensions. Part of it is electioneering, but much is driven by the view at all levels of ANC public representation that the window for graft may at last be closing.

South Africa now stands at arguably the most dangerous yet logical end phase of ANC-style one-way “empowerment”. Criminal cartels have effectively privatised and democratised the state-sanctioned project of wealth expropriation for their own account. In the construction industry, for example, so-called Business Forums seek to extort 30% of the value of all construction projects by violence. Most of the mainly black-owned taxi and long haulage sectors are cartelised, untaxed and in some cases criminalised. The R90 billion-a-year taxi industry, for example, paid R5 million in taxes last year.

President Ramaphosa, elected five years ago on the promise of clean and effective government, is powerless to address this scourge because so many of his party colleagues are beneficiaries, nor will he admit that its genesis lies in the “empowerment” dogma he still, against all evidence, so assiduously promotes. Like Tancredi Falconeri in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s classic, The Leopard, he wants everything to be changed for nothing to change. Mandela’s vision has been betrayed, and by his own comrades.


Brian Pottinger is an author and former Editor and Publisher of the South African Sunday Times. He lives on the KwaZulu North Coast.


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Andrew Barton
Andrew Barton
7 months ago

Well this is most unexpected. Who could have predicted this would happen?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Barton

I could have told you how this would go 30 years ago so Mandela must have been aware that he current situation was inevitable

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Barton

Over 20 years ago when Mandela had just taken on the job, I remember asking two businessmen with experience of Africa, : “Will South Africa work?” And they both said No. I asked Why not? and they replied Corruption and Crime.
As the correspondent above said, Poor, poor South Africa.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Barton

If anyone predicted this situation 20 years ago, which everyone on the planet with functioning brain cells knew would happen, they would be tarnished as a racist. Now, racists are in charge and they allege racism is still at fault. It is growing more difficult to stand by and hold back the smirks when people talk about SA in polite circles.

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
7 months ago

“remains unbowed by its spectacular failures, preferring to fall back onto its default posture of blaming apartheid, the private sector and whites“

Substitute colonialism for apartheid and there is the story of Africa.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
7 months ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

And, substituting the more general colonialism or racism for apartheid, there is the emerging story of the UK, too.

R Wright
R Wright
7 months ago

This can all be simplified down to its barest essentials. South Africa is merely reverting to the African mean. This is the fate of all African nations that were decolonised. The fact that this is happening sixty years later than most is irrelevant, the exact symptoms are present in the patient. Endemic corruption. Africanisation of the civil service. The threatened or real use of violence in business dealings. Tribal voting patterns. All of these happened and continues to happen in countless other post-colonial states such as Malawi, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Zimbabwe, the list goes on and on.
The state which the European colonisers granted them were used as an elaborate device to pilfer what little industry was left and its proceeds distributed to cronies and/or deposited in the nearest Swiss bank account. South Africa is merely suffering the same fate that is inevitable in all multi-ethnic African states. Nelson Mandela knew exactly what he was doing. Now his acolytes will tear the rotting carcass apart for what little remains until South Africa becomes another Congo, a once wealthy region ripped apart by ethnic strife and anti-colonial posturing.

John Pade
John Pade
7 months ago

What is so hard about maintaining roads? How did farming become so difficult? Electricity is complicated but its intricacies were mastered long ago.
South Africa is blessed with resources that should lift it to the pinnacle of economic achievement. But better economic performance could have been obtained by accident than what South Africa achieved on purpose.
It appears that South Africa’s future is Zimbabwe’s present: to see what it will look like in 10 years, just look north. Instead of taking Zimbabwe as a warning sign, South Africa’s leaders are using it as their lode star.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
7 months ago
Reply to  John Pade

Perhaps its human resources aren’t such a blessing

Chipoko
Chipoko
7 months ago

The Rainbow Nation‘, ‘Arab Spring‘, ‘Breadbasket of Africa‘ [Zimbabwe] : these clichĂ©d platitudes coined by ‘progressive’ white westerners are vomit-inducing.
From the moment the ANC assumed power with the most productive economy in Africa that nation’s future was doomed. Africa chose the path of political ‘freedom’ in preference to colonial administration; which (in the case of former British colonies) sought to develop countries’ economies and peoples towards an eventual state of self-determination, but those waiting in the wings to grab power were driven only by the prospect of plundering huge wealth and enriching themselves from the productivity of those who built up sp-called ‘settler’ economies. That it has taken so long for South Africa to reduce itself to Zimbabwe’s revolting state is probably testimony to the solid economy the ANC inherited and the diminishing pool of settler know-how and competence, much of which has emigrated since the Rainbow Nation was born.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
7 months ago

Poor, poor South Africa. I would feel bad, but curiously enough, I don’t find it in me to feel bad. The blessing and the curse of Democracy is this: you get what you vote for. The citizen is sovereign, and the voter is king. “The land groans under the reign of a foolish king.” This is true if there is one king or fifty million kings.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Don’t you think democracy is just a bit more complicated than ‘you get what you vote for’?

Steven Targett
Steven Targett
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Fundamentally no. If you choose to vote for a morally bankrupt organisation because it is promising you something which you know it can’t produce then you are as guilty as those you elect.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
7 months ago
Reply to  Steven Targett

Oh, and the ‘voters’ had lots of choice did they?!
Sounds a bit like our predicament in the UK, ‘Rock and a hard place’?

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

A good comment, wasted on these simpletons…

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
7 months ago

It’s the Wild West here and we make our own way despite the criminals in charge.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

Will there come a time when South Africa becomes too dangerous for white people to remain?

Caradog Wiliams
Caradog Wiliams
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

The only reason for white people to stay, from a non-white point of view, is that they contribute to the coffers of the leaders and, in so doing, add some kind of legitimacy to the government.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Didn’t the ‘Boers’ manage to keep/hide one of their Atomic Bombs they developed with the help of Israel?
I trust they have ‘maintained’ it! For the time for another ‘Blood River’ draws close.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

According to Danny Stillman and Thomas Reed in their book The Nuclear Express, when the end of white rule in South Africa became inevitable the government almost certainly made sure that any nuclear weapons were destroyed. The prospect of a nuclear-armed ANC was just too terrible to contemplate.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Thank you.
I had heard that ‘one’ was hidden in a shed near Laing’s Nek.

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago

In a shed?! Nuclear weapons are not like conventional explosives. They need regular maintenance by trained experts. Fissionable material deteriorates.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Merely a euphemism.

Jane Davis
Jane Davis
7 months ago

Don’t play into Mr Stanhope’s weird narratives which are about Judaic ‘underhandedness’. This is a mindset that can credit the idea of a nuke in a ‘shed’.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago
Reply to  Jane Davis

Haven’t you addressed this to the wrong person?

By the way Ms Davis I was expecting an apology from you for your vulgar “swastika” remark.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
7 months ago

Ha ha, are you getting told off again Chas?

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Coulport (Next loch to Faslane) had some very impressive ‘sheds’ when I worked nearby.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

And yet they still have their hands on Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant in Cape Town, which is a Chernobyl in waiting…

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
7 months ago

Yes if you’re white and middle class Lesley, the strain must be intolerable for you?

Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter
7 months ago

The truth is there is nobody out there, whether or not they admit it, who is the slightest bit surprised by any of this.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
7 months ago

“President Ramaphosa
is powerless to address this scourge because so many of his party colleagues are beneficiaries
”. And not just his colleagues.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
7 months ago

Same post-colonial story as everywhere else in the Third World. Reform hijacked by a corrupt regime as the country and its residents collapse into the black hole of destitution, misery and, eventually, violence. Meanwhile helper NGOs enable the corruption by putting bandaids on the chaos without ever truthfully blaming the culprits.

Sophy T
Sophy T
7 months ago

Also, hasn’t China lent large sums of money which South Africa won’t be able to repay so the CCP will grab what it can in lieu.

William Cameron
William Cameron
7 months ago

When African Countries were UK colonies they had rule of law, economies that were improving, Schools , Clinics, Hospitals and communications. And their economies were improving. Food was generally plentiful.
And most became independent in relatively peaceful transition. (Not 100% but mostly).
So what is it in that continent that so often results in corruption ruining the lives of the people ?

Howard S.
Howard S.
7 months ago

Mr Mandela was not being generous or forgiving when he insisted that the minority white population be retained and kept safe in the new, black-run South Africa. He knew that his own people were not capable of running a modern state, and still aren’t.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 months ago

Wow. Excellent, detailed article, but so sad. Why isnt this writer the go to guy for info on S Africa in the MSM?

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
7 months ago

It was obviously going to happen. The ANC is a movement. It had one goal, and a zillion of mixed motives. Once in power, those motives would reveal themselves. They have. The show that the ANC is capable of governing. So it has to be replaced. But because it is deeply corrupt, we can expect that alternative governments will emerge only through violence. That’s what is written in SA’s card as of now. Who knows, though?
Africa has yet to demonstrate that it can govern itself well.

james goater
james goater
7 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

My comment is not really germane to this excellent, but depressing, article but it must be said that your concluding sentence is not 100% correct.
It really is worth taking a look at the country to the north of increasingly squalid South Africa, Botswana. This is a stable nation and Africa’s longest surviving multi-party democracy. The fact that it is so jarringly at odds with general perceptions of African governance may be the reason so little is written about it.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
7 months ago

I think it’s the South African people who have been betrayed.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
7 months ago

Maybe we should have the humility to also learn from South Africa’s tragedy. We too are massively indebted, led by politicians unable or unwilling to tackle the major problems which confront us yet still expecting the Stare to “fix” things whilst continuing to subsidise our largely unearned lifestyles? Maybe South Africa is not alone in sleepwalking towards Argentina.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
7 months ago

Nelson Mandela was a convicted terrorist and should have been hanged, as should his simply appalling wife, the Winnie Beast.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago

I clicked the thumbs-down but it registered as a thumbs up. I’m guessing that’s how this comment appeared to get so much agreement. A technical glitch. 

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

My thumbs down didn’t even register at all, wots that all about?!!

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
7 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

My thumps up to you went to zero.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
7 months ago

I’m not sure whether you get a perverse pleasure from being deliberately provocative or whether you actually mean what you write. I hope it’s the former.

Last edited 7 months ago by Roddy Campbell
A D Kent
A D Kent
7 months ago

I think the author really needs to explain what he means by a ‘Venezuela moment’.

South Africa differs from Venezuela in at least one key respect. They haven’t been under punitive sanctions by the US (and therefore the rest of the West) for thirty years. They’re much more emblematic of how countries & their elites operate in the modern World of rentier capitalism and financialisation of everything. Their recent elites are those formed in the scramble of the 1990s that also befell the ex-Soviet States – they’ve just been unlucky enough to have already been mostly ‘integrated’ in the West systems and have had neither the will or the ability to rebuild in the way that at least some of the ex-Soviet states have done.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
7 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Venezuela has not been under sanctions from the US any more than South Africa has.

A D Kent
A D Kent
7 months ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about Simon. I might also have added the UK nicking all their gold too.

https://www.state.gov/venezuela-related-sanctions/

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
7 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

So Venezuela’s hyper inflation was caused by…?

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

Venezuela mainly.
Venezuela has more than enough oil – the world’s largest oil reserves bar none – to be able to survive any sanctions.

A D Kent
A D Kent
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Caused by mismanagement and corruption to a degree, but also decades of official & unofficial sanctions & interference from the West. Even the VZ opposition wanted them to end.
https://www.thenation.com/article/world/venezuela-economic-sanctions/

Ray Andrews
Ray Andrews
7 months ago

The white man’s burden.

j watson
j watson
7 months ago

‘Power corrupts and absolute Power
’ – so the saying goes.

One observation perhaps pertinent to our own debates – the separation of powers, esp judiciary, clearly eroded in SA such the latter cannot constrain. Worth us bearing that in mind. One can forget sometimes why we maintain a healthy separation in the West.

can't buy my vote
can't buy my vote
7 months ago

Can anyone point to an example of a successful decolonization anywhere in Africa?

Last edited 7 months ago by can't buy my vote
james goater
james goater
7 months ago

Botswana, at least for now — see my comment, above.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
7 months ago

Revolutions need one type of leader. Stable governments need another.

Will we ever learn? People who excel at overthrowing governments and societies rarely have the skills to nurture them.

Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
Juan Manuel PĂ©rez PorrĂșa
7 months ago

One would have supposed that South Africa’s betraying the legacy of a convicted terrorist such as Mr. Mandela and the political machine he founded would be cause for celebration. Nevertheless, as always always must happen, the mere repudiation or negation of something or someone (in this case, of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress) does not mean much. A negation or antithesis is too indefinite to be significant, because it leaves too many possibilities (tertium datur) open for South Africa, many or most of them not good, as can be plainly observed in the most recent involution of South Africa and its government that has and continues to take place.
At any rate, I hope South Africans can figure out a way somehow to crawl out of the terrible situation in their country.

Kat L
Kat L
7 months ago

The best explanation about what’s going on that I’ve read is in this review: https://claremontreviewofbooks.com/look-back-in-anger/

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
7 months ago

Indeed. But all these ills were foreseen but not mitigated. Now a slow train wreck is unfolding.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago

Seems a bit much to pin this on Mandela. He was only in power for 5 years and that was over a generation ago, with the author even stating that when he was in charge he appointed good financial experts who improved an economy battered by apartheid. I’m not sure you can blame him for the corruption and incompetence of his successors

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Do you have trouble with your reading and comprehension? Pottinger is blaming the ANC for betraying Mandela’s legacy. It’s even there in the title of the piece.

Peter B
Peter B
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

On the other hand, it’s arguable that the current leadership of the ANC are a part of Mandela’s legacy. He had some small hand in developing the current leaders who are currently trashing the country and also in embedding a de facto one party state. Even though he may well have wanted neither of those outcomes. None of this is intended to diminish his remarkable achievements. But it’s better to keep an objective view of people and resist sanctifying them.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

I thought the article was overly critical of Mandela himself, portraying him as a grinning simpleton and in my opinion it implied the ANCs problems began with his leadership. I believe this is an overly harsh assessment, especially considering the time in which Mandela led the country.
Childish insults also add nothing to your point so it’s best to refrain from using them if you want people to take your opinion seriously

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I rather take my cue from the author, who certainly must have had a most intimate perspective into the man and of SA’s history, as editor and publisher of “The SA Sunday Times”.

starkbreath
starkbreath
7 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

What do you expect, he’s an inveterate virtue signaller.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

The author is laying blame at the ANC’s door. Not at Mandela’s.

Paul Monahan
Paul Monahan
7 months ago

no mention of the multi generational destruction of black peoples; what was done to them will reverberate in the form of karma destroying everything until SA is reduced to ashes

N Satori
N Satori
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

Pottinger does mention this (third to last paragraph):

…typically, the ANC remains unbowed by its spectacular failures, preferring to fall back onto its default posture of blaming apartheid, the private sector and whites.

…and now you’ve added a new twist: Karma!

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

Yes, quite right. Perhaps it should take more than 30 years to completely destroy a nation and rebuild it into a shining city on a hill modeled after other bastions of equitable redistribution like Chicago, New York, Baltimore or Detroit.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

For the love of God. *Stop*.

Roddy Campbell
Roddy Campbell
7 months ago
Reply to  Paul Monahan

You sound almost gleeful in your predictions.

Do you not feel that 2 generations of well-educated and privileged black ANC leaders sticking their fingers in the till, rotten with nepotism and inflaming racial tension as a means to hold onto power might bear a little bit of responsibility for the basket-case that SA is becoming?

Or don’t black leaders have any agency at all, destined forever to be victims of events retreating further and further into history?

One thing is certain. If you tell somebody that their bad behaviour isn’t anything to do with their choices and can all be blamed on something external to them, many will happily embrace this lie and continue on their course.

Of course the effects of Apartheid linger on. But perhaps the most pernicious and enduring of them all is to provide a continuing excuse for the excesses of SA’s venal leaders over the last few years.

Read King Lear, Act 1 Scene 2:

“This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeits of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars; as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!”