Tuesday, June 2

South Africa? Just a few years ahead of us.

What's life like under a totally corrupt, racist government?  Here's the take from one 27-year-old female in South Africa.

In 1994 the white government of South Africa essentially stepped down when it opened elections to everyone in the country.  As expected, the election was won by the communist African National Congress.

There were many concerns about the ANC taking over the government.  One was, did it have enough people with enough skill to govern a modern nation with a highly developed, technological economy?

The answer now seems clear:  It didn't. 

It hasn't even managed to maintain such a basic necessity as the country's electrical system, even though when it took over it had 25 percent more generating capacity than needed.  The pre-ANC government actually sold electricity to neighboring countries.

Now even major cities like Johannesburg, Capetown and Pretoria are all in a state of severe decay, with roads littered with potholes, broken traffic lights, power outages and water cut-offs.  Public hospitals don’t work, the police are totally corrupt and crime is rampant.

The ANC-run provincial governments also don't work any better.  One provincial government can't even provide textbooks to its schools.  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.

Many national government officials devote little time to their actual job.  Instead the main activities of most ministers seem to be foreign travel and showing up at celebrations or rituals of one kind or another.

There is a continuous schedule of party events – conferences, rallies, 22 national celebrations, commemorations, funerals and anniversaries.  Even extremely minor events such as the launch of a new brochure or government program are the occasion for lavish parties. Previously sedate occasions like the opening of Parliament are turned into major jamborees.

Officials spend unconscionable amounts on luxury cars, first-class travel, bodyguards, private airplanes – and often on large newspaper advertisements boasting of their activities and featuring large portraits of themselves. Inevitably, all this has been aped by provincial ministers and even by municipal officials.  Far out in the wilds one sees huge posters on the roadside featuring the face of some minor provincial official, accompanied by the announcement of a local maintenance or improvement program.

We understand that bureaucrats in most countries are inept to some degree, but in this case the elevation of communist cronies of the ANC to the civil service has made the government far more incompetent and corrupt than in other countries.  The civil service has been stripped not only of competent personnel but also of its institutional memory.

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

Lacking competent people, the government has tried to force the private sector to do its work for it.

The communist government has written a great deal of legislation – including affirmative action and "black economic empowerment" programs – to require all manner of performance from the private sector.  Government officials then have the far easier job of simply punishing companies that fail to comply.

For example, mining legislation consists mainly of telling mining companies what to do--in great detail and with threats of dire punishment – and granting the minister unlimited "discretionary power." [Does that sound familiar, Americans?]  Which of course makes a company's fate entirely dependent on the government minister's good will.  It is a prescription for corruption.

The main focus of the president and his appointees is on activities of the ANC, its many celebrations, its rules and discipline, its national and regional conferences and factions.

They've lived their entire lives in the ANC.  It's the source of their positions and power.  Thus it's not surprising that officials at all levels invariably give precedence to party meetings and occasions over state duties.

There's a lot more at the link.  In reading her description of the disaster that has afflicted her country it occurs to me that this is the inevitable result when people who have no knowledge of basically anything other than thuggery and extortion take over a government.  These are the people who believe that electricity and running water "just happen" automatically.  If something isn't working to the satisfaction of the Party, it can be fixed simply by ordering that to happen.

Trying to tell these people about preventive maintenance, or the importance of a fair and reliable legal system, or...well, anything other than "here's this month's...gift, Minister"...is utterly useless.  It simply annoys them.

They think all they need to know about governing is that they won.  So now they get to give orders and the entire machinery of government must do their bidding.

"I won."  Unstated corollary:  So now you must do as I command.  Sound familiar?

What absurd, obscene arrogance!  And it will have exactly the result an intelligent person imagines.

Both in South Africa and here.


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