In many ways we are two very similar nations. Events like the Rio Festival and the Tweede Nuwe Jaar festivities, assets such as signature mountains and beaches,a multi-ethnic society, a lot of soccer and a common love for coffee. We are both emerging economies and members of the BRICS economic grouping and worst for last have horrific crime rates and levels of corruption. Because of this high level of crime and corruption it should come as no surprise really that a right-wing candidate is now their President, having been elected recently. It will be interesting to see if the new broom sweeps clean.
Obviously this is where we are different from Brazil as it is highly unlikely that the Freedom Front or the reconstituted PAC will win next year but at the same time we can take valuable lessons from across the ocean. Although largely consigned to the dumping ground of previous century history, it would be foolhardy to be dismissive of right or left wing extremism from across the demographic spectrum in the run up to next year’s elections and beyond because of crime seemingly embedded in South African society and a government that comes across as blasé in times of crisis. However it would also be disingenuous to entertain thoughts of a coup d’etat. There is just too much diversity in South Africa for this to be plausible because terror groups usually have some narrow self-interest with a cultural base and there is also a lot of optimism at ground level for next year.
There are further factors that could be oxygen for the extremism fire though and those are crying racism and being dishonest. We know that in many instances affirmative action has not been properly or fairly applied which equates to an indirect racism but there is also the more direct sort directed at white people and people of Indian descent by the EFF. That record is starting to become stuck though almost a quarter of a century into democracy. Then there is dishonesty, and like corruption if it is pervasive at the top level it will filter downwards – a case in point the President’s denial of the existence of farm murders and then you get perjurous statements from Minister Gigaba.
It would seem that there is only one party in South Africa capable of leading us out of the proverbial Amazon Rain Forest with its various indigenous tribes and natural pitfalls which in our context are self-interest, lack of inter-cultural respect, greed and then similarly to Brazil, crime and corruption. Whilst we are not out of the woods yet, we are certainly getting closer to exiting them. Should we not have that Brazilian coach, Parreira of 2010 now still because we only did not get through the group stages because of goal difference? We are also on thin ice with regards to African Cup of Nations qualification.
I think most South Africans would like to be lazing on the Copacabana with an iced coffee or the like and not languishing in the Amazon but I believe we are getting there.