Chinese rule: The better alternative

David Bullard says we're heading for a Zimbabwe/Venezuela style outcome in SA, but there is another option


I’m never too sure what it takes to qualify as a ‘futurist’ but I suspect it involves lots of number crunching and in depth research before you can draw any conclusions that you can safely parade in public. I have long been in awe of people like Clem Sunter who can tell you all about the red flags and the green flags and give you a percentage estimate of whether we will survive long enough to see the findings of the Zondo commission.

I once quipped that, when it came to predictions, Clem’s low road was a cliff top walk compared with my high road. But my Afro-pessimism has usually paid off handsomely and I always like to point out that I am a glass half empty kind of guy based on the sound premise that a waiter will never fill your half empty glass if he thinks you regard it as being half full. Always look thirsty is my motto in life.

A lack of scientific research has never stopped anybody from making predictions (as we have learnt from COVID-19) but I would like to mention in my defence that I have run all the available data through my custom designed computer model ‘Quasimodo’ (it’s all based on hunch) and this is what it has come up with.

South Africa faces two probable future scenarios. The most likely at the moment is that the ANC will continue to rob the country blind and we will end up as an unhappy blend of Zimbabwe and Venezuela. In fact, we will be a much unhappier blend because we have considerably further to fall and once the central bank has been persuaded to print money to pay public servant salaries and the currency has gone into free fall we have only hyper inflation and the complete breakdown of society to look forward to. In fact, it’s already been happening for some while now and you only need look to the Eastern Cape to see what awaits the rest of us.

As Ace Magashule made very clear last week, the ANC high command have no intention whatsoever of cracking down on criminality. They are more than happy to give the middle finger to the country’s citizens by re-deploying party members caught with their snouts deep in the trough.

We have the misfortune to be governed by the most openly criminal organization in the world. Most politicians try to hide their shady dealings but ours flaunt them as a badge of honour.

The second scenario is one that is becoming increasingly likely and that at our weakest we will be ripe for plucking and become a fully fledged colony of China, falling under Beijing’s rule. This spooks a lot of people but the more I think about it the more enthusiastic I become about the idea given the ghastliness of the alternative. For some reason I can’t get this Charles Aznavour song out of my mind… ”Xi may be the face I can’t forget”

When I was growing up in England any toy with “Made in Hong Kong” printed on it was cheap and nasty and was bound to break within days. It was a sure sign that whoever had given you the gift didn’t much care for you and had no right to call themselves ‘uncle’.

Hong Kong in those days was still a British protectorate and was the nearest thing the Chinese got to capitalism. That all changed after 1978 when Deng Xiaoping booted out the failed policies that had made China one of the poorest nations on earth and introduced the idea of what was termed a “socialist market economy”.

In the early eighties this involved the opening up of the country to foreign investment and the scrapping of price controls (something socialists naively believe will regulate markets). Loss making state owned enterprises were dumped and some were privatized although they still remained under the watchful eye of the Communist Party. By 2005 the private sector accounted for 70% of China’s gross domestic product.

Fast forward to today and China is the second largest economic power in the world (and quite possible the largest military one). It has more dollar billionaires than any other country and ranks number two for dollar millionaires.

Look around your home and you will find ‘made in China’ on many of your household items from your iPhone to your kitchen implements to the clothes you buy from Woolworths. In less than 40 years China has become an economic super-power and, in the process, lifted more people out of extreme poverty than any other nation in history.

Faced with the prospect of going into the gutter with the ANC (who will have safely stashed their ill gotten gains offshore) the prospect of falling under Chinese rule becomes attractive.

Obviously there will be some downsides like the loss of personal liberties such as freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom of movement and property rights, to name but a few, but most of those are already under threat so what the hell?

Take freedom of expression for example. That’s already dead in the water and anyone foolish enough to express an opinion or make a joke that doesn’t pass muster with the howling social media mob can soon find themselves de-platformed, publicly shamed and out of a job.

As an example, last week News24 ran an article by Conrad Koch on what we are allowed to find funny. For those who don’t know him News 24 described Koch as “SA’s top comedy ventriloquist” which isn’t much of a claim to fame because SA isn’t exactly crowded with ventriloquists unless you include Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Koch is having to do some fancy footwork in the wake of the Black Lives Matter fallout because for years he has used a black dummy called Chester Missing. This is apparently akin to Leon Schuster blacking up for his comedy skits or to Placido Domingo blacking up to sing the role of Otello.

In a sensible world this wouldn’t matter because we would all realize it was part of the performance but in this age of manufactured outrage and micro-aggressions it is strictly verboten because it triggers memories of colonialism and slavery, particularly among people who have never personally experienced either.

Koch’s virtue signaling and massive overcompensation for the sins of the past have involved whitening up his dummy Chester in the sure knowledge that at least white people won’t take offence. Sadly, he’s just as unfunny white as he was black.

In his labored self flagellation on News24 Koch passes down the law on what constitutes bad comedy according to St Conrad: “If we laugh at people who, in general terms, have less economic and social power, people of colour, women, gay people, poor people, etc, it is easier to get a laugh, but it’s also, usually, bad comedy.” 

So that rather dumps Basil Fawlty and Manuel in the comedy dustbin doesn’t it? With comedians like Conrad Koch around it’s no wonder we are rapidly becoming a humourless nation.

Lockdown has already helped us get used to a lack of freedom of movement and freedom of worship so these won’t come as any great hardship when our new masters are in charge. Which leaves property rights.

In China I understand that the state owns all urban land and it’s citizens can then lease the land and build properties on it. In essence this isn’t much different to what the Duke of Westminster does with central London properties and nobody could accuse him of being a communist.

The ANC are very keen on the idea of expropriation without compensation and since they no longer have any money to compensate land owners anyway the issue becomes largely academic.

If we moved to the Chinese system for all nonagricultural land then the cost of building a home would be far more affordable. On the estate on which I live a plot of 800 square metres can sell for between R1.3m and R1.8m and then you have the cost of building on top of that. I would be more than happy to hand my land rights over to the government for the return of the transfer duty I had to pay adjusted for interest and depreciation against the dollar over the past eight years. That would pay for a new kitchen.

However, the real attraction of Chinese rule is certainty. You know that the country will be run efficiently if ruthlessly. If the taxi drivers decided that they were more powerful than the government then they would be in for a very rude shock.

If money went missing from a bank like VBS the culprits would be swiftly rounded up and dealt with. If the Eastern Cape needed a new hospital to cope with COVID-19 then it would get one in two weeks. Best news of all though would be tertiary education. I’m unaware of any Chinese university offering courses in “Gender Studies” or some such wishy-washy non subject.

Chinese students regularly score highly in mathematics, science and literacy, probably because they don’t spend their student days throwing excrement at statues or demanding safe spaces on campus.

Given the dog’s breakfast that SA has made of democracy versus a brighter economic future under Chinese communist rule I am more than happy to give up a few personal freedoms for some stability. Besides, they were never all they were cracked up to be were they?