Revisiting the 70’s – from Idi Amin and Pol Pot to Jacob Zuma and “the Fallists”

2016-10-27 08:05

As anarchists desecrate our Universities and our president gets routinely exposed as an incompetent and corrupt felon, I am reminded of the nineteen seventies. Those were the days when Idi Amin – the archetypal buffoon of his time - ruled Uganda and amused the world, and the Khmer Rouge destroyed the intellectual class in Cambodia.

For me there is a sense of déjà vu.

With the Khmer Rouge in charge in Cambodia, education was trashed, qualified people were persecuted, (western) medicine was discredited and destroyed - and the youth ran riot. By the early eighties the nation was in ruins and an estimated hundred and fifty thousand had died, mainly from starvation.

Fast forward to South Africa 2016.

A number of things parallel the seventies. And they have similar “disconnects”.

Pol Pot, the Khmer leader had delusional ideas of an agrarian state without need of learning, intellect or formal health care. People would be at one with the land and everything would be OK. Nirvana would dawn. Sound a bit like "decolonised" education?

Our symptoms are different but analogous - not driven by an agrarian ideology, but making just as little sense. Consider what government has done recently.

In the person of Blade Ndzimande – a communist, like Pol Pot - students were told last year that they would get free tertiary education. But – as with the agrarian nirvana sketched by Pol Pot - there is no such thing!

Someone always pays.

On that realization, and as a result of the dissonance caused, universities have gone into meltdown. To make things a whole lot worse, the deterioration in tertiary education expectations – with calls for “decolonized” tertiary education – suggests similar educational dysfunction to Pol Pot's Cambodia.

But right now even bigger promises are on the table from the South African government – unrelated to the nuclear debacle that we all know about. The nation has been promised “affordable, quality health care” for the entire nation – in the same way as students were promised free tertiary education last year.

But once again – there is no such thing. That is a scary thing to promise a nation – not to mention irresponsible.

These facts are pointed out by Anthea Jeffery at the Institute of Race Relations in her capacity as Head of Policy Research – see

It is worth a read.

Her bottom line is not rocket science, just simple common sense.

Both “free” tertiary education and “free” health care are oxymorons and mutually exclusive in nature.She points out (correctly) that the only way to address improvements in health care, tertiary education – or any aspects of public welfare for that matter - is to enable economic growth, extend the tax base, and bring down unemployment. Only then would it be possible to promote better education and medical care – amongst other benefits.

That would be a better option than coercing intellectuals and medical professionals into unworkable, state sponsored “models” that are doomed to fail.

But we are on a trajectory 180 degrees removed from that. The financial “justification” for NHI provided by government is unmitigated fraud: the figures provided in NHI’s support are vague and assume as its base an economic growth rate of 3,5% - which is laughable since the nation has not experienced that for 10 years – and never on a sustained basis. We struggle to achieve 1% and it is inconceivable that it could improve under our ruling socio economic paradigm.

Worse still, it would place access to medical and other resources in the hands of bureaucrats rather than medical professionals and would almost certainly represent yet another, grand scale parastatal failure. It would very likely be like SAA, the post office, Prasa, Eskom and all the rest rolled into one.

And on account of its scale and universality it would probably break the back of what is left of our economy.

So whilst current headlines focus on rifts between Treasury and the presidency; corruption and state capture, and scandals aplenty - it is as well to recognize that, in the event of these issues being solved, we will remain in dire straits.

When it comes to socio-economic decision making, the cupboard is bare - denuded of intellectual capital, global perspicacity, intuition and common sense.

And that is because denying workable solutions is a precondition for making it up the ANC ladder. The organization embraces obsolete,and long discredited ideologies and with very few exceptions empowers and promotes the corrupt and incompetent – its own low intellect and culturally inappropriate “cadres”. (Pravin Gordhan is unique in the ANC – and his tenure is fragile.)

Best we hope for an accelerating trend in voter support for the opposition ahead of the 2019 elections - because without it, the Khmer Rouge might as well be in charge!


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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