Most were precluded from bidding for government contracts because they refused to give majority shares to black partners and thus didn’t qualify in terms of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation, but the government was such a bad payer that they didn’t want to have anything to do with it and its contracts anyway. Not really spoken of, perhaps even undetected by the business owners themselves, from 2020 onwards there was nevertheless a nascent White Economic Empowerment trend in the economy. While businesses had “No Jobs” notices plastered on their doors, behind the scenes they recruited reliable people based on recommendation and did business only with those whom they knew as performers. The ANC didn’t like this, especially after social census and economic data began to point to this trend, but it had no choice other than to deal with white-owned firms if the government needed something done, because black firms kept screwing up big contracts. Unemployment soared among blacks, and to be fair, their idea that having shitload of kids would ensure one is looked after well in old age did contribute to an increase in population that could not be absorbed by the economy since the early Noughties, but it either stagnated or sometimes even fell among whites.

Therefore, instead of blaming their parents, themselves or laying it at the ANC’s feet as they should’ve done, the uneducated youth listened to the likes of Julius Malema and Jacob Zuma, who told them everything was the white man’s fault, their failures and lack of opportunities were the result of a conspiracy against them by white people, and that the key to prosperity lay in taking land that was in the white man’s hands, without compensation and if necessary, by force. Zuma and Malema encouraged Zimbabwe II for their own reasons- Zuma because he needed to deflect the anger of the black electorate away from the ANC and keep himself out of jail, and Malema because he’d long realized the only way blacks could experience a small measure of temporary prosperity and for him to gain political power, was to take all the wealth from the whites.

The 2019 national elections had been a damned nightmare. Former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was forced out of the party’s power circle after daring to point out in a tweet that colonial rule had had benefits, and found herself in comfortable retirement which she occasionally broke to publish incisive columns on the Daily Maverick website. With her out of the way, DA leader Mmusi Maimane, a former preacher, used his charm and vague resemblance to Barack Obama to portray the party as the new home for black people who wanted to make South Africa great once again, getting rid of a lot of competent white politicians in the leadership and stuffing it with blue-shirted blacks who were at best a silk hat on a tubercular pig. For its part, the ANC shit its collective G-string trying to juggle the irreconcilable differences between keeping the country afloat by attracting foreign investment (and thus protecting private property from depredation) and maintaining its hold on power by catering to the “take from the whites and give to the blacks” crowd.

In the end, the DA managed to keep its hold on the Western Cape province as well as gain a slim majority in the Eastern Cape legislature, which like it had after the municipal elections of 2016 in Port Elizabeth, again necessitated a loose coalition with COPE, United Democratic Movement and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The alliance was uneasy. Mirroring what happened in Port Elizabeth, the tail tried to wag the dog. Therefore the Eastern Cape province legislature struggled to pass legislation as well as exercise oversight of the messed up municipalities it had taken over from the ANC. Dissatisfaction among the people was already bad, but it increased and as a consequence even more people left the province than before, moving to the somewhat greener pastures of the Western Cape and Gauteng, placing a dangerous strain on those provinces’ finances and infrastructure. In turn, the Eastern Cape’s loss of population led to a decreased share of the national budget, which caused a decline in services and further deepened the socio-economic crisis because the shortfall could only be made up by increasing taxes on already overburdened city residents, of whom only about 25% had jobs or businesses from which to pay those taxes. In a twisted way this played into the ANC’s hands, but only for a while, because the party had its own problems.

The conflict over which political and economic direction to choose became evident in late 2016, when Jacob Zuma began sounding like the former ANC Youth League president and now leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, Julius Malema, when he started talking about removing the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle and instead expropriate farms in white hands if owners were unwilling to sell at prices determined by the government. Though both he and the ANC were repeatedly warned this would be disastrous for the economy at large as well as the nation’s food security, he persevered even in the face of criticism from his own party. During the scramble between the various candidates for the ANC’s presidency and thus the country in December 2017, it became clear the party was willing to dispossess the whites, or at least the candidates were trying to ingratiate themselves to the increasingly sizable party factions and portions of the black majority electorate which wanted to do this. Even Cyril Ramaphosa- who once bid millions for a share in a bull, was widely called Mr. McDonald’s because he owned the South African arm of the franchise through one of his investment companies and served on the board of a mining firm before returning to politics as the country’s deputy president- began to hitch his political wagon to the mad bronco of Radical Economic Transformation. Although the race got nastier as it neared December, Ramaphosa eventually beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, one of Jacob Zuma’s ex-wives, former Cabinet minister and head of the African Union.

He managed to win for three reasons. First, Ramaphosa made a deal with the “nationalization without compensation” crowd. In exchange for their support he pledged to increase black ownership of nationally significant financial and manufacturing assets and simultaneously attempt to balance this with the fears of foreign investors so as to keep money coming into the country. Second, and this was important, though not quite as important as the first reason, no matter how much the ANC likes to blab about being a broad-spectrum racial umbrella which led South Africa in the fight against apartheid, the fact of the matter is the ANC has only had one Coloured secretary general, its first. For over 100 years thereafter, the secretary general and party president posts have been filled without exception by black males. The ANC Women’s League used to be a powerful force in Winnie Mandela’s heyday, but since 1999 or so, it had declined until it was nothing more than a bunch of uniformed broads who protested at trials of wife killers and rubber-stamped the ANC’s choice of ultimate candidate for presidency.

No, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma didn’t win. There was no way in hell she ever could, because the ANC and the multitude of African tribal cultures from which it comes are rampant and unapologetic sexist patriarchs. The third reason is something only a handful of old timers spoke about, and that is the ANC’s dirty open secret- since its exile days, it has had a problem with corruption. It didn’t do much about this because the party leadership judged the cost of cleaning house as too high when it needed “every nigger behind the trigger” during the fight against apartheid. After it took power in 1994, it needed people to learn how to run the government and again couldn’t get rid of anybody, so the corrupt networks spread inside the party, then infected the government through its “cadre deployment” policy. After that, the rot multiplied faster than Ebola and either forced out the morally principled, or outright killed them. By 2017 and after eight years of corruption under Zuma’s protection and leadership, only crooks survived and thrived. There was just one problem. End of Part II. To be continued…


Mircea Negres

Port Elizabeth

South Africa