South Africa in decline: Things Fall Apart

Proud South Africans continue to hold onto the idea of an undying republic- a South Africa that in spite of its problems will continue to be a land flowing with milk and honey. The idea that South Africa may undergo the economic and political malaise of Zimbabwe, Zambia and much of the continent remains a far fetched reality that most South Africans simply cannot see befalling the great 'rainbow nation." The promise of a new found land (born in 1994), a country boasting Africa's most advanced economy and infrastructure still sustains many people's belief that South Africa is immune to collapse, that South Africa can never be a basket case, that South Africa will always be Africa's leading economy- a 'positive pariah state' of some sort; one which defies the thinking that every African state must fail at some point. 

Such thinking is false security. 

For the alarms bells have long been ringing, yet many continue to live in lala-land, ignoring the reality that something is broken in South Africa; that South Africa is on the verge of going beyond the point of no return; that South Africa is on the precipice of a calamitous collapse if the leadership does not make a sharp turn, and return to the rich ideals of public service and not self-enrichment. 

This false sense of security is shown by acts of xenophobia and violence against fellow Africans. For such acts highlight a high-mindedness  that does not ever envisage the perpetrator being a refugee in another country. If one believes that economic and political turmoil may potentially send him/her fleeing to neighbouring countries, then there is no reason why one would treat fellow Africans in the barbaric manner that some South Africans have treated people who have come from across the continent to contribute to the country's economic and social journey.

Yet danger signs are plastered all over South Africa concerning the state of the nation. 

When state institutions begin to fall prey to capture and corruption, that is a sign that a country is heading for a calamitous collapse. Take Zimbabwe as an example. Air Zimbabwe was a world class institution, the flying pride of what was then Africa's bread basket. It won many prestigious awards and was the symbol of a stable Zimbabwe. When things started going wrong, it was one of the first institutions to highlight the impending doom. 

Parallel this with what is happening with South African Airways. Until recently, SAA has been at the forefront of international flight. South Africa's flag carrier has been a premium carrier, with a premium price tag to go with it. Yet today SAA is embroiled in a serious shambles. Leadership and financial crises are the order of the day. The centre surely is not holding. Is this a sign of what is about to befall the state? 

The SABC, another state institution lies engrossed in serious hardships. Artists are not getting paid, money is leaking through financial impropriety, a crisis of leadership persists, and the centre is not holding there either. 

Finally, South Africa- the state. The great beloved 'rainbow nation' has never been closer to the precipice as it is now. An executive covered in allegations of state capture; a President who is by all means a constitutional delinquent; an economy in crisis due to the failure of political leadership, and the excesses of corporate greed; a country were millions of youths are unemployed; a country where the gap between rich and poor is ever widening; a country where race is once again taking centre stage in the contestation of state power. 

Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold forever. 

How can people be so foolish to think that South Africa is immune to political and economic failure? How can people continue to sustain a lie that is daily being rebuffed by the reality of the politics and economics of the country? 

South Africa is in decline. South Africa is in danger. This is not a cynical scaremongering falsehood. It is reality. Believing otherwise is delusional. Something has got to give. Either politicians change course fast, or South Africa caves in! I hope for the former, but the latter appears most likely. 

Sad reality, sad truth. Hope persists, yet reality is inescapable. Mzansi is in decline. How much longer will the centre hold? 

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