It is becoming clearer day by day that the longer the ruling ANC is in power, the bleaker the prospects for growth and prosperity for the people of South Africa.
The skeletons coming out of the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture tell one story, which is that the ANC came to power with the sole objective of supplanting the apartheid rulers and looting the country’s fiscus. The noble goals of the liberation struggle were thrown by the wayside as the ANC cadres jostled for places at the feeding trough.
The promise of a better life for all has proven to be a façade to mask the real intention of the ANC, which was the enrichment of a few connected cadres at the expense of the undiscerning masses.
Much was expected from the ANC when it came to power in 1994. Reversing the legacy of apartheid was not a task to be taken lightly and demanded political diligence and moral rectitude.
It must be remembered that, during its tenure, the National Party had managed to empower the South African white population through discriminatory policies which were meant to keep black people in perpetual servitude to white people.
Apartheid was an evil policy which sought to ensure that black people could not aspire to transcending certain boundaries and achieving self-actualisation.
It was therefore hoped that the ANC would grasp the magnitude of the task at hand, especially reversing a legacy that had oppressed the majority, as opposed to the white rulers who had had the relatively easier task of empowering a white minority at the expense of a huge black majority.
What this challenge meant was that the new rulers had to devise a comprehensive plan to grow the economy, which would have facilitated a programme of the mass empowerment of the black population. Growing the economic pie would have ensured that the removal of racial disparities would have taken place and, in turn, this would have minimised racial tension and resentment. This would have given the project of nation-building a boost.
The failure to grow the economy must be seen as the ANC’s spectacular failure as this entrenched the legacy of apartheid instead of eradicating it. Instead of growing the South African economy, the ANC embarked on a disempowering project of hand-outs to the masses in the form of poorly built RDP houses, while the connected amassed wealth through corrupt tenders.
The Free State asbestos tender is a case in point, in which R230 million was paid by government, whereas only R44 million was paid for the actual work, with the rest going to ANC tenderpreneurs.
Other gimmicks, such as social grants, were also used to lure the beneficiaries to vote for the ANC, with threats that a vote for the opposition would lead to the termination of such benefits.
What serious government can pride itself on the fact that 17 million of its citizens depend on social grants? Contrary to its claims of being a caring government, the ANC is a cunning government, interested only in votes to continue its looting project.
The evidence of the ANC’s failure to make any meaningful inroads in fundamentally improving the lives of the South African people is there for everyone to see. The triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality are still evident and have been partnered by the scourges of corruption, crime, violence against girls and women, xenophobia, and other social ills.
South Africa is a country in crisis mode and something has to give. Lawlessness is rife as evidenced through the mushrooming of “silver landscapes” in the form of shacks illegally erected along much of the country’s roadsides. The rule of law, which is a foundational principle of a constitutional state, is currently severely undermined.
It must be said that South Africa is a better country to live in than it was during apartheid, despite the ANC and not because of it. What the ANC is left with is only its struggle history and this is no longer enough to improve the economic and security prospects of the people.
South Africa is in dire need of a political party or parties to take over the running of the state by first cleaning up the mess left by the ANC and then placing the country on a new growth path.
Lee is a resident of Johannesburg