`Where to South Africa?’

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Sandile Swana

Elections are in progress in South Africa and a number of key indicators need reflection and correction.

Thabo Mbeki has done another interview with Xoli Mngambi, this time during elections, seeking to clarify his assessment of the past thirty years.  In any nation, citizens have to guard against superstition and anti-science including witchcraft as a cause of failure. Africans are prone to pointing to the invisible world for root causes, rather than to their own behaviour.

As things stand we have the largest population of people living with HIV with the concomitant financial burden on our National Treasury for the ARVs. That is accompanied by the highest levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty. Duma Gqubule tells us that our industries have 20% spare capacity to produce more goods but the population has no money to buy that extra 20% of output because they have no regular wages. That means production capacity lies idle as we speak, but in reality we need to treble the size of our GDP within 30 years, 2024 to 2054.

The ANC and the DA  have long abandoned the idea that Mandela tabled to enforce full employment in South Africa, which is very necessary. Not one metro, province and the nation itself has achieved full employment, the DA boasts about a dismal 20% unemployment track record in the Western Cape. Our SOEs including Transnet, Eskom, Prasa, SAA  among others and many of our our municipalities are in financial distress and the systems of governance have collapsed in many parts of the state. There is a hocus pocus attempt to reconstruct Humpty Dumpty at Eskom, an attempt at an overnight miracle to end load shedding.

This is accompanied by declining electoral support of the ANC and the DA, the ANC got 57% in the last national election and 45% aggregate in the last local government election, that makes history and signals the end of hegemonic politics. That was before the MK Party was launched, which has a chance to scoop 8% to 10% from the ANC. In any case what has happened is that the political elites have lost credibility, 55% of the members of the ANC do not trust the ANC and less than 38% of South Africans trust the cabinet and the president. This is a malaise. Many multi-national corporations and big businesses have been implicated in State Capture, currency manipulation and also in many price-fixing cartels over the past 30 years and also in the very recent past.

We need to be clear about what the problem is, counter-revolution is far-fetched. Mbeki’s version is that there are apartheid operatives who have been seeking to defeat the ANC and its National Democratic Revolution because it is a communist programme implemented here in RSA by puppets of communist Russia and so on. Mbeki says many such agents and their puppets infiltrated the ANC and the state and started sabotaging SARS and other institutions. Mbeki also states that in 1997 Mandela warned the ANC to remove criminal elements and profiteers from the membership of the ANC and from all deployments. Mbeki says that the task was difficult and it has not yet been done and the outcomes is the collapsed economy, GDP growth is below 1%, we have the largest HIV population on earth, we are a nation of drunks and drug addicts, all because the ruling party was infiltrated by apartheid agents and business opportunists as well as by criminals.

It is now widely accepted as the PSC stated that if we allow immoral and incompetent people to occupy key positions in the state, then we will be a failed state across the board. The DA has challenged cadre deployment and to the extent that cadre deployment increases the number of undesirable persons in the state, the DA is correct and must be supported.


In all this, it is clear that probably 95% of our current problems are brought about by incorrect HR practices in political parties and in the state where each candidate for any position, including the state president needs to be vetted and competency tested and found to be fit for purpose. Every successful South African organisation vets its staff and leaders and removes non-performers and delinquents. The election must do part of that by electing the most honest, competent and diligent people, however after the elections citizens have  a duty to make sure that each position in every part of the state is occupied by the most competent, honest and diligent person, including the state president.


I am saying let us forget about Cold War-era communist and anti-communist political conspiracies. When coalitions and government of national unity are formed after 29 May 2024, it would be wise to be pragmatic, rules-based and evidence-led to select the best South Africans to lead and manage the state. All people including Catholics, communists, Muslims, Jews and all cultural groups must get positions on merit in all places of employment. The private sector needs to be revamped and the very many criminals and dishonest people in business must be weeded out in order to create a high-performance culture across the board. Only sincere and honest investors need the attention of the state and citizens, we cannot welcome all comers. Investor confidence must eventually have a credible ethical foundation which is still lacking.

Many political leaders and voters have noticed that both the DA and the ANC have not been consistent in putting up the overwhelming number of competent and honest people in office. That needs to change, and excuses must be abandoned. We must also accept that some of the best potential ministers are not in the political parties, and some are in the smaller parties. All of that must be factored in as we build a new high performance South Africa after 29 May 2024.

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