The human being is a thinking animal. Sure, it may be stunned for a while, but the mind starts turning sooner or later. Good at action though he was, enjoy it as much as he did, Daniel Iancu was a thinking man above all else. It was something he’d learned during his days as a bodyguard, and further enforced it over the years until it became his primary tool of survival. Emotion and instinct are easy, just about everybody indulges in that, and as a consequence find themselves manipulated, sometimes to their death. Well, Daniel was alive and he intended to stay that way, so he worked the problem. As Martin drove, the orange-yellow freeway lights flashed past and Port Elizabeth was fast receding in the mirror. He wouldn’t miss it. Hell, he’d never liked the place. People were too friendly, the “good morning” he got from complete strangers almost every time he stepped out of the door drove him nuts, as did the incessant begging at intersections. It had gotten so bad that it was impossible to smoke a cigarette without being asked for it or a little more rarely, another- and then more often than not, the fuckers didn’t even have a box of matches to light it! Worse still was the laid back lifestyle, which had translated into laziness and a fall in service levels. Business owners complained they had no money, but in this town one had to chase the dumb fuckers to throw money at them and not only would they not work, they wouldn’t even bother to pick up the money off the floor- and then moaned at the end of the month they were poor… Port Elizabeth, P.E., the Friendly City, or as it was more accurately called by residents, The Windy City, was a small city with a small town mentality and there wasn’t much to do here besides jumping to one’s death off the notorious Van Stadens bridge. In Johannesburg and Pretoria, things were the other way. There people chased money, worked like mad and it showed even in the government’s less than believable economic data, for Gauteng (the former Transvaal province) consistently topped the list as the wealthiest and most productive province in the country. As for the wind, forget about it. Man, if the wind blew in Pretoria or Johannesburg, there was a reason for it. In Port Elizabeth the wind blew just because it could, there were often four seasons in one day and another thrown in for the fun of it, while those who came from inland were driven nearly crazy by it all. With bitter sarcasm he’d often said “P.E. is the Hotel California of South Africa. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. Hell, I got as far as Kimberley and still found myself back in this windblown shithole.” With the dark outlines of the R75’s scenery flashing past his peripheral vision, he began to go over what he knew…

 

South Africa had been in a downward social and economic spiral since around 2010, because it took two years for the Great Recession to be felt on the ground. After that, the ANC’s anti-white utterances and policies took on a desperate tone when they had previously been resentful bordering on stupidly self-defeating. Race relations began declining during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency, but they worsened during Jacob Zuma’s two consecutive five-year terms to the point at which somebody filmed an argument between a white father and a black mother at a restaurant that formed part of the famous Spur family restaurant franchise in Johannesburg, went viral as hell and led to whites boycotting the franchise. Within a month or so, Spur restaurants as far as Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage recorded a 40% drop in income. While media pundits and opinionated idiots on Huffington Post tried to make the whole thing about the white guy who was banned because he’d threatened to bitch-slap the black woman (well, it was actually the Afrikaans expression “poes klap”, which means “cunt slap”), whites decided then and there they’d had enough of what they saw as the double standards, unfair blame for the ANC’s fuckups and black on white racism that too often went unaddressed, so it seemed they had begun to fight back with the most potent weapon left in their arsenal- money.

It only seemed that way, because in all honesty the fight had been going on for ages. It started with capital flight, because if there’s one thing about rich people, it’s that they would rather pay somebody else to do the fighting for them. They aren’t brave, but neither are they stupid. The rich had read the tea leaves years before the Spur incident and used every method possible to move their money overseas. Anglo-American, once the biggest player on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, had moved its primary listing to London’s FTSE and sold off quite a few local assets. Mark Shuttleworth, fairytale billionaire and first African in space, moved his money to the Isle of Man and paid a R250 million exit tax. He took the government to court over this and surprisingly won. General Motors had warned during a strike in 2014 that further labor unrest would force it to disinvest. In early 2017, it dropped the bombshell that the firm planned to be out by the end of that year, although for other reasons. Others among the super-wealthy made their own arrangements when Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema began to threaten nationalization of white-owned assets and means of production. It took a couple of years, but top echelon real estate agents began to sound warning bells that properties in some traditionally super-rich suburbs had been sitting on the market unsold, while emigration firms kept saying their phones were ringing off the hook.

Beyond that, Jacob Zuma’s firing of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene wiped over R 150 billion off banking and other stocks within days, and the only thing which kept the beleaguered currency propped up after he fired Pravin Gordhan, the last respected finance minister South Africa ever had, was an influx of capital from foreign currency speculators who saw some money to be made without investing in physical assets on the ground. While the big boys headed for more stable economic climates, South African firms began to stockpile capital in earnest from around 2008, anticipating the coming recession. For years, they slashed their workforces and training budgets, hired only when absolutely necessary and built up cash reserves believed to be in the hundreds of billions. The effects trickled down to subsidiaries and spread throughout the economy. Unemployment went up along with the burden of welfare on the government’s budget. The youth were having a hard time finding jobs before this, but now it was almost impossible. Black high school and university graduates sat around forlornly, increasingly looking for someone to blame. The ANC had built up an expectation that in order to rise out of poverty, all they had to do was get an education. It failed to mention that businesses were increasingly risk-averse and if there were jobs, they preferred to hire people with years of experience, which graduates just didn’t have. It was a nasty catch 22 situation- you need experience to get a job, and a job to get experience. Thus, what happened was inevitable.

Whites who were “encouraged” to leave government service from 1994 onwards had for the most part invested their pensions and severance packages in small businesses. Some failed, but many didn’t. At a time when corporate South Africa was in decline and unemployment was going up, the Afrikaners proved to be the exception, for they had gotten involved in business and often employed their family members. In general, black high school graduates had a poor education due to the diluted syllabus which was made so because the government tried to avoid being blamed for blocking blacks’ road to prosperity through education because of the high percentages of failure in township schools, which in turn were due to unqualified teachers, lack of infrastructure and support, mismanagement, corruption, high absenteeism among teachers and trade union interference in the education system. Even the few who managed to get into formerly white schools weren’t much better off. As for the university graduates, they found accounting, law, business and marketing degrees to be useless at getting a job because the market was saturated and by then employers had begun to believe blacks were passed through the system even when they didn’t measure up. This belief was bolstered by the behavior of the graduates themselves, who displayed an unwarranted sense of entitlement, lacked the ability to adjust to the brutally fast and relentlessly Darwinian work environment, and blamed the system for their failures. Behind closed doors in the business world, Affirmative Action became dirty words to be derided and blamed for the country’s drop in economic performance and competitiveness, its beneficiaries viewed as nothing more than demanding leeches who fed off the work of others. It took a long time, but in those days of economic decline, it became apparent capital could only be expended on performing service providers, and most of them were owned by desperately hardworking whites. As such, by necessity more than anything else, white business owners circled their wagons and began to do business with each other and anybody else but the government. End of Part I. To be continued…

Mircea Negres

Port Elizabeth

South Africa