Countdown to Socialism: A must-read before the election

Phumlani Majozi says Anthea Jeffery’s book is a well-argued, fascinating book written with great passion, and great concern for future of SA

A must-read before the election

21 November 2023

Amidst the decline of our country, and its uncertain future, let us not forget that South Africa is blessed with talented citizens, some of whom are courageous enough to speak up against the mismanagement of the country by the governing elite. One of these courageous, remarkable, learned South Africans, is Dr Anthea Jeffery, who is currently the head of policy research at the South African Institute of Race Relations.

Anthea’s expertise on South Africa's political history, crafted over decades, makes her one of the most formidable intellectuals in the country. She has written eleven books, including, The Natal Story: Sixteen Years of Conflict (1997), The Truth about the Truth Commission (1999), People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa (1st edition, 2009), Chasing The Rainbow: South Africa’s Move from Mandela to Zuma (2010), BEE: Helping or Hurting?(2014), People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa (2nd edition, 2019). And now she has published her latest book, titled Countdown to Socialism – The National Democratic Revolution in South Africa since 1994. Having published all these books, Anthea has demonstrated the intellectual superpower that very few in South Africa can match.

Countdown to Socialism is a well-argued, fascinating book written with great passion, and great concern for the future of South Africa.

The thesis of the book is that South Africa's ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) that has governed South Africa since democracy began in 1994, is in the process of implementing its National Democratic Revolution (NDR) - which is a set of socialist and communist programs aimed at achieving full control of South Africans.

Anthea starts her book by revisiting the People’s War of the 1980s and early 1990s – a subject that she has written extensively about. The brutal People’s War helped the ANC get ‘state power’ in the new, democratic South Africa, according to Anthea. The ANC understood very well that ‘state power’ was critical in advancing the NDR in the post-1994 South Africa.

It’s in the history of People’s War that you should not underestimate Anthea’s intellectual prowess. She's brave enough to tell the facts that are ignored in the mainstream media.

There are numerous areas where the ANC government has been hard at work steadily cementing the NDR, Anthea argues in her book. These areas are education, health care, social security, water, mining, land, public finance, judicial review, cadre deployment, multiparty democracy, democratic representivity, the working class, the developmental state, ‘disciplining’ capital, battle of ideas, and lawlessness.

Education and healthcare are of greatest concern to me. They are critical pillars of a society that seeks prosperity. Hence, education and healthcare must be handled with great care.

Education and NDR

We must avoid having education and healthcare being wholly controlled by politicians whose major goal is to be re-elected in the next election. For millions of poor South Africans, education is the main thing that can give them the hope of escaping poverty.

In his research a few years ago, Roland G. Fryer, a famed economist at Harvard University, concluded that education or human capital is still a determinant of mobility out of poverty. In South Africa, as we speak, the unemployment rate amongst graduates is in single digits. Amongst those without a high school qualification, unemployment is in double digits. So, education does make a difference.

Q1 2023 Unemployment rates - Source: Stats SA

In an interview on King David Studio podcast last July, former statistician general Pali Lehohla echoed that the drivers of poverty in South Africa are unemployment, and lack of education.

Lehohla’s comments were not surprising; they were a reminder why it is critical that education is handled with care in the country.

To cement state control on education – as it pursues the NDR – the ANC government has been weakening the power of school governing bodies, as heads of provincial educational departments have been meddling in the work of school governing bodies in communities, the book argues.

Anthea writes about the serious problems that have engulfed South Africa’s education as a result of the ANC’s pursuit of NDR – from disruptive teachers unions, to corruption in education departments, to dismal educational outcomes.

Independent schools must be seen as one of the solutions to South Africa's education problems.

Anthea fully supports independent schools, and in the book, she highlights that private education, or independent schools, are under attack as left-wing interest groups oppose and discredit private education. To read about such is disappointing, given that low-fee independent schools can help provide the youth with decent, competitive education that government-owned schools fail to provide.

Over the past years, private education has been growing even in poorer regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and India. “Enrolment at private schools has increased by 175% since 2000, bringing the number of pupils attending some 2 100 independent schools to more than 700 000 by 2021.”, Anthea writes on South Africa’s private schools. Parents vote with their children’s feet “by taking them out of dysfunctional public schools and sending them to independent ones where pupil performance is significantly better.”

Healthcare and NDR

When it comes to healthcare, Anthea points out that the ANC government has adopted all forms of counterproductive policies to increase the cost of healthcare with the intent to justify the adoption of socialised healthcare.

Government actions have been the cause of skyrocketing healthcare prices, she writes. Anthea discusses the major NDR interventions that have been undertaken by the ANC in the private healthcare sector. They are: “increasing the costs of medical scheme membership”, “prohibiting low-cost medical schemes”, “barring primary health insurance”, “reducing the medical tax credit”, and “stigmatizing the private sector”.

What is crystal clear from Anthea’s book, is that the sky-high healthcare costs we complain about are a result of government actions. How many South Africans are aware of that?

Anthea writes about the deplorable conditions of our public hospitals. The main problem with public health care is not lack of resources, but rather a failure of management and accountability, Anthea correctly points out. We are in this mess because of incompetence, not because of lack of financial resources.

To address all these problems of healthcare costs that it has caused, the ANC government has proposed the National Health Insurance (NHI) which is basically universal healthcare coverage, or socialised healthcare. NHI will be a disaster, Anthea correctly writes.

In a column published on Politicsweb in June this year, I wrote that the government must rather focus on fixing the current dire state of public healthcare that it has control of. There is no need for the government to expand its control on healthcare by meddling in the private sector.

NHI is another mechanism to cement NDR. It's a vehicle by the ANC to push for more, increased state control in South Africa. That should be troubling to all South Africans.

How can this NDR be stopped?

The fundamental question we should be asking now is, how can this NDR be stopped cold? It’s a very important question because if South Africa is to be saved, then this NDR train must be stopped. Well, the answer to that question is not sophisticated at all. The voter is the one who can stop this train at the ballot box next year.

South Africa is a democracy. It is citizens who have the responsibility to determine the fate of the governance and the future of the country. Hence, every South African voter should recognize that their vote matters. The ANC must be voted out of power in next year’s election if we want to see meaningful change in the country.

Anthea has written a very important book that every voting adult should read before voting next year. South Africans of her kind should be appreciated. Hopefully more Antheas will be produced in the country.

Phumlani M. Majozi is author of upcoming new book “Lessons from Past Heroes” and senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.