The edge of anarchy

SOUTH AFRICA IS teetering on the edge of anarchy. Scenes alarmingly reminiscent of twenty years ago are appearing in the media: toyi-toying, stoning, burning tyres, chaos.

Government has expressed the quaintly delusional notion that the protests are the works of “agents provocateur”. This only goes to show how out of sync the ruling party is with the majority of its constituents.

Until government stops “passing the buck” through misattributing the cause of the protests (and the accompanying assassinations and attacks on party officials), service delivery will never be the urgent priority that, as a constitutional obligation, it should be.

Violent protests are thus not going to disappear either. Frustrated and resentful, the people’s patience has worn dangerously thin. Trust and optimism placed in empty election manifesto promises has unravelled to disillusion and bitterness.

The ANC has become the default oppressors of the people because, while enriching their own elite, they have done little to change a status quo which remains rooted in South Africa’s unjust history of colonialism and apartheid. In the years since 1994 the ANC, once a collective of bourgeoisie intellectuals, has morphed into one of billionaire buffoons. Self-enrichment amongst a politically connected few has flourished while life for many in this country remains much the same.

Yet unlike in so many other African countries, members of the impoverished masses are refusing to accept the new elite’s insouciant subjugation being imposed upon them any longer.

A starkly violent warning has been issued: that enough is enough. We are fast approaching the post-Apartheid Rubicon. If the government wants to avoid countrywide upheaval on an unprecedented scale, it needs to act immediately. It needs to show that it has the compassion and courage to reverse 13 years of deceitful neglect.

The alternative consequences are too frightening to contemplate.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The edge of anarchy

  1. Hard Rain

    I wish these masses would understand that their vote is more powerful than rocks or marches. If and when the ANC becomes truly challenged politically we’ll only know for sure what its true colours are.

  2. idoljack

    The language of Alex post sounded ultra left, though I agree with the general point. We South Africans are being myopic and government does has large chunk of the (bad) old “screw up and cover up” mentality. What troubles me is what is Alexs’ solution? If approached in the right way there are people in the ANC who will listen. Here is what my programme of action would look like:

    1. More social security: The government lacks the capacity to spend on productive projects – so put money in people’s hands. Create opportunities for them to spend it creatively. A basic income grant would work; alternatively or additionally, extend the child suppor grant to 18 and increase the amount (currently R170 per month).

    2. Fund this increased social security through a massive redistibutive gesture – 1% (adjust the exact amount as necessary) of the total capital value of all firms over a certain size. The psychological impact of this would in itself be of immense stablising value. Let business and governmment run it joinitly.

    3. Apart from Social Security payments, use the income from this fund to carry out small scale public works which can be contracted out quite quickly. Things like: (a) large investment in libraries (study centres) with large scale internet access and staff to superivse and assist; (b) sports fascilities – with staff to run them (and support for local soccer leagues at junior level as well); (c) employ local people in neighbourhood improvement projects; (d) well organised trading venues available at minimal cost; (e) more paved and mantained roads and street lights -a massive deterent to oportunistic muggers in poor neighbourhoods (f) special gender violence courts and suppor of neighbourhood enforcement of the arrest and prosecution of those accused of gender violence; (g) large scale support for micro finance schemes (h) increased denisity in all housing projects (no more tiny houses on individual erfs) and proper urban design in the devleopment of such projects; (i) invesment in public transport infrastrucure to make public transport safe and cheap for all (ok this is one of the large scale things govt cant do at present – but one can but hope!);

    I’m sure one could add many others to this list. These are the kinds of things that we need to see our government doing at all levels. I think Alex’s post would have been more useful if it has concentrated on the dozens of doable things that can happen, rather than making an appocalyptic annoucement!

  3. Ivo Vegter

    So the solution to government’s failure to wisely manage taxpayer’s money and effectively deliver services is… to give it more taxpayer’s money to spend on more services?

    Public works are the most inefficient way of trying to uplift communities. I can go along with a basic income grant (not in principle, but in practice), but only on condition that recipients are free to spend or invest the money however they see fit.

    There are many better solutions, though. One is to reduce government interference in (and sometimes running of) the economy, so it can become more productive, employ more people, and deliver more services the way only private individuals can: by doing or selling what people want to pay for. Another is to make individual government officials more accountable to the electorate, rather than only to The Party.

    Making government even more responsible for even more money to fund even more projects is a guaranteed recipe for even more chaos.

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