A spectre is haunting South Africa
This week the South African Communist Party hold their annual congress in KZN. The comrades will almost certainly hunker down (after the general secretary has parked his tax payer sponsored luxury German limousine in a safe place) and come up with all sorts of barmy ideas designed to sabotage what's left of the South African economy after 18 years of ANC dithering and plundering.
You will probably have gathered if you have followed my columns over the past 18 years that commies rank a few rungs below child molesters, tow truck drivers and drunken, inattentive newspaper editors in my estimation. There's a simple reason for this. Communists, like gas powered street lamp lighters in London, are an extinct species in all parts of the world except the most primitive and unsophisticated. North Korea springs to mind but even China and, to an extent, Cuba have ditched communism in all but name because it is a loser ideology.
Capitalism, for all its faults, is a far better economic system because it satisfies man's competitive desire to do better for himself than his fellow man. If all you aspire to in life is to drive a Trabant and be told what to think by the Politburo then you will be very happy with communism but history suggests that people want more out of life. Which is precisely why the senior comrades drive big, flashy BMW's to set them apart from the riff raff. The only surprise is that the rank and file don't see through this deception.
Communism has all the allure of tuning into the forthcoming Olympics to watch the Saudi Arabian women's beach volley ball team going for gold. So why does the South African Communist Party still insist on flying the red flag? More pertinently, if they really think they have something of value to offer why don't they break away from the ANC alliance and fight an election under their own banner?
The reason they cling like a limpet to the ANC is that they know they wouldn't have a bat's hope in hell of winning an election on their own. Even the most ignorant South African voter can see that Messrs Nzimande and Mantashe are a couple of old windbags. In eighteen years of liberation you could count the contribution both of these gentlemen have made to progress in the country on the amputated fingers of one hand. They are, in short, an impediment to progress and belong in a museum rather than in government.
So why on earth do the more moderate elements in the ANC tolerate them and go along with all this bullshit of calling one another "comrade"? It probably has something to do with the fact that the ANC still hasn't matured into a governing party.
The constant harking back to the struggle and the talk of revolution is the clue that the ANC is simply not grown up enough to run a sophisticated economy. If they had been they would have moved on years ago, taken advantage of the superb infrastructure the reviled Nats left them and built South Africa into a force to be reckoned with.
Instead, they have squandered the country's resources, made us an increasingly unattractive place in which to invest and spent most of the past eighteen years enriching the party elite and squabbling about whose snout should be closest to the swill trough. Whenever criticism is levelled the same tired old nonsense is trotted out and it usually involves something along the lines of how whites still control the economy. Quite why this should be a problem in a non racial South Africa is beyond me. What does it matter who creates the wealth just as long as somebody does?
The great tragedy is that very little is likely to change and that's because most of our senior political figures are economic dunces. They genuinely don't seem to understand the way the world works or even the way an economy works. I would lay good money that if a simple 10 question economic test was set for cabinet ministers most would be lucky to score 4/10 and I doubt if the commies would manage 2/10.
Which is rather bad news for all those taxpayers who are currently supporting 14 economically unviable fellow South Africans. It means that the situation can only deteriorate and that future finance ministers (and possibly the present one) will be looking for ways to milk more out of the dwindling percentage of economically active South Africans.
If the commies have their way I have no doubt that bank accounts of those deemed to be "rich" will be frozen and the proceeds redistributed to the needy (with senior party officials having first bite of the cherry). This is no different to the proposals to seize white owned land with no compensation or to nationalise the banks, insurance companies and the mines.
More worrying though is the suggestion back in May from Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz that SA should go in for some quantitative easing of its own and print money. It's perhaps worth pointing out that Stiglitz is not an SA citizen and that he is 69 and probably won't be around to witness the fallout should such a suggestion ever be taken up.
The good news is that most commies are probably too thick to understand what he was saying but the penny (or the cent) may eventually drop I fear. Can you imagine how many more BMW 7 series you could buy for the comrades if the printing presses started churning out R100 notes 24/7?
Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter