It is doubtful that even President Jacob Zuma expected anyone but the faithful in his party to express delight when he announced the ANC election manifesto. Filled with misguided self-praise and extravagant promises for the future the President seems to be living in a fantasy world.
The best that could be said is that his fantasy matches perfectly with the wishes and dreams of all South Africans, regardless of political affiliation. Six million jobs to be created, one million housing opportunities, cheaper private health care and the pledge to stamp out corruption would do very nicely, Mr President. But just how do you plan to go about it?
With the economy in a state of confusion, union unrest, the rand slipping almost daily and investor confidence vanishing it is difficult to imagine anything much better than stopping the slide. But the party faithful, and there are many, will hang on to every word and demonstrate their faith with an X come election time. So perhaps it works for our President. Though with numerous scandals fresh in their minds there will be a growing number looking for alternatives and he made be in for a fright.
Job creation relies a great deal on government making the country a safe and attractive haven for investors, the ones with the money. That he has not done. Any increase in jobs will most probably be by adding to the already bloated civil service.
On that point it is scary to realise that SA has more on the government payroll than even the United States. Our bloated civil service, according to a recent article in Business Times, employs 3.03 million compared to 2.79 million in the US which has a gross domestic product 45 times that of SA. That is 22.6% of the total labour force. And our public service costs are proportionally among the highest in the world coming in at 12% of GDP. This is the largest gravy train ever seen in Africa.
On top of that, according to the article, corruption has cost the country an estimated R30billion. And by engaging the services of consultants, “many in corrupt arrangements”, government has spent more than R100billion.
Not surprisingly this was conveniently ignored in the President's manifesto when he unveiled it. No booing, only cheers of abject support and everyone appeared happy.
But it cannot continue and many in the ANC must believe that change is inevitable. Unfortunately we can only wait impatiently for that change to happen, hopefully sooner rather than later.