It has been a quarter-century since South Africans of all colors and creeds lined up with each other to patiently wait their turn to vote for their first government that was not dependent on brutal racial engineering.
In 1994 the country was a coiled spring ready to unleash enormous latent economic and human potential. As South West Africa became Namibia and the legal edifices of apartheid were swept away, South Africa suddenly had the opportunities and goodwill that had been denied it for the better part of 30 years.
All that promise is gone. South Africa has squandered its opportunities and is on the path to becoming a failed state. These are the top ten reasons, in no particular order, why South Africa is becoming the next Venezuela.
1. Greedy European Arms Merchants
Even before South Africa celebrated its first all-race election, armaments vultures from Europe descended on the country and began corrupting key players and institutions. The government had proposed an $8 billion military modernization plan. It ballooned to $100 billion with $300 million paid in bribes to the African National Congress (ANC) and its senior leaders.
A commission of inquiry into the arms deal was completed in 2016, but it was a cynical smokescreen to protect President Jacob Zuma. To this day, almost nobody has been held accountable in either South Africa or Europe. America has turned a blind eye because many of the culprits are tied to U.S. defense interests.
2. Blue Light Convoys
South Africa’s post-apartheid politicians quickly developed a taste for blinged-out and frequently upgraded German luxury cars, right down to the level of provincial and municipal functionaries. Taking their privilege to the next logical step, politicians arranged to be ferried around at high speed by gun-waving police escorts known as the “blue light brigade.”
The reasons to drive fast and recklessly surrounded by armed thugs are obvious when you have abandoned one-quarter of your citizenry to chronic unemployment that has reached a 15-year high; the 9th-worst unemployment rate in the world.
3. Imitating Brazil’s Carwash Corruption Scandal
South Africans have been enthralled by the live proceedings of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Two families have systematically looted the treasuries of government entities and state-owned enterprises.
The Watson family corporation won inflated government contracts by ferrying plastic bags filled with cash to corrupt officials. A measure of justice has arrived with the arrest of some offenders.
That is more than can be said for the Guptas, an Indian family with extraordinary talents for mendacity and corruption. The Guptas entirely corrupted the many-wived President Zuma, to the point that they were reportedly hiring and firing cabinet ministers from a cartoonishly tasteless compound in Johannesburg. The family may yet be extradited to South Africa from Dubai after they did a bunk in the dead of night via private jet.
4. White Shoe Mercenaries
South Africa has an unfortunate history of foreigners exfiltrating its wealth. In the post-apartheid era, one of the earliest foreign corporate buccaneers was Bain Capital co-founder Coleman Andrews.
Andrews still pretends he led a “turnaround” of South African Airways (SAA) that resulted in a five-fold increase in its “market value” in two and a half years. The reality is that he navigated SAA toward bankruptcy, where it remains today. He eventually pulled the ripcord on a tax-free golden parachute worth some $25 million as he bolted back to the United States. His successors had learned well: they flew SAA deeper into trouble, by turns looting it and using it for virtue-signaling projects that have reduced its international services to a pitiful third-class offering.
One of the consulting companies involved was McKinsey and Company. The flashy consultants moved onto bigger things than SAA as they started paling around with the Guptas—yes, the very Guptas mentioned above. McKinsey ignored hundreds of red flags waving in its face as it chased a $700 million payday consulting for several state companies. McKinsey’s partners have paid back the ill-gotten gains in a show of contrition, but that’s cold comfort to the organizations that are in their death throes.
Not to be outdone, Bain clamped its jaws around the national tax agency, South African Revenue Service (SARS), and left it crippled. Just like McKinsey, Bain ignored trainloads of warnings about bad actors and dodgy dealings as it engineered a pompous and superfluous “restructuring” of SARS for the sake of a R187 million contract ($20 million).
KPMG, one of the “Big Four” global auditors, is crying crocodile tears now, but not before it rampaged across South Africa. KPMG got involved in state intelligence machinations, signed off on the financial statements of a bank looted into oblivion, allegedly laundered money for the Gupta kleptocrats, and helped drive the tax agency to its knees.
Described by the New York Times as “Britain’s most audacious public relations firm,” Bell Pottinger was both foreign agitator and profiteer. The firm eagerly signed up to gaslight South Africans and ignite a race war at the behest of the Guptas and their purchased politicians. Bell Pottinger plotted a neo-imperialist fantasy from its swanky London headquarters. The echoes of the infamous Jameson Raid were not lost on South Africans.
5. Promising Anti-White Genocide
“We’ve not called for the killing of white people, at least for now. I can’t guarantee the future,” said Julius Malema, leader of the clownish Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Malema is a champagne socialist with a penchant for incendiary behavior and race-baiting. He has encouraged the ruling party to make a similar play by promising land redistribution without compensation.
When politicians promise race wars in Africa, they should not be patted on the head by paternalists in Georgetown and Brussels. The net result is a massive new exodus as South Africans with talent and means flee to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
6. Switching Off the Lights
South Africa has gone from a surplus of cheap electricity to rolling blackouts and astronomical price increases. After long periods of sporadic blackouts in 2008 and 2015, the country is again facing an indefinite period in the dark.
Years of mismanagement, incompetence, and astonishing venality are to blame. It has piled up R419 billion in debt ($30 billion) with no possible way to service it. There is hardly an area of Eskom’s business that is not tainted by bribery and corruption, often in collusion with senior politicians.
7. Retirement Delayed
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) amounts to South Africa’s sovereign wealth fund, investing the retirement savings of government employees. It is now emerging that PIC is an amateur and potentially rogue investor that has dangerously concentrated its risk, overpaid for assets, and made improper investments. It has the potential to collapse the country on its own.
8. Virtue-Signaling and Vanity Projects
South Africa’s foreign policy tests the limits of satire, but there is no doubting the country’s insufferable superiority complex on the world stage.
President Nelson Mandela cancelled South Africa’s dual recognition of Taiwan and China in 1998, unable to resist Chinese mainland thuggery despite fresh memories of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. So much for Mandela’s great moral courage, and little wonder that South Africa has abandoned its pretense at occupying the moral high ground. Its voting record at the UN is every dictator’s dream.
9. Education Quackery
South African school children are routinely abused as laboratory rats for the world’s crackpot curriculum fads. Immediately after 1994, the overlords determined to throw out the basics in favor of outcomes-based education promoting nebulous ideas of peace, prosperity, non-sexism, non-racialism, and democracy.
Every peer ranking confirms the total failure of South Africa’s relentless education experimentation. Its kids rank at or near the bottom of comparative international tests, and academic standards have been lowered to improve appearances—school students need only score 20 percent in mathematics to secure a passing grade.
Universities have been beset by violent protests that have produced even lower standards, more student indebtedness, and less discipline. Students have demanded the “decolonization of education,” including the perfectly reasonable idea of replacing Western science with African witchcraft.
10. Affirmative-Action Absurdities
Modern race engineering offers Kafkaesque absurdities. The national rugby team is required to field a side that is “55% black” rather than 100 percent competitive. Since each team comprises 15 men, at least 8.25 of them must be black to satisfy the quota police. It is entirely unclear how the fractions will be settled—possibly by juggling injury substitutions or manipulating DNA tests.
The corrosiveness of quotas and the low expectations it engenders are everywhere apparent as South Africa slides closer to an abyss littered with the corpses of failed states that have gone before it.
Andries Lehong is a pseudonym. He lives and works in Colorado after emigrating from South Africa, where he was raised and educated.