Does the ANC deserve to be re-elected?

Douglas Gibson asks why all other provinces doing so badly while the WCape is thriving

President Thabo Mbeki expressed disappointment at the lack of economic progress in South Africa compared to Rwanda. He said that midway into the democratic era (coinciding with the Mandela presidency and his own) our economy grew at 5% per annum; thereafter it stalled. He said we should ask what went wrong.

Several writers have answered the question. Willem Cronje, a prolific newspaper correspondent, summed it up beautifully by pointing out the fundamental flaw in ANC ideology: the conviction that the workplace must rapidly reflect the composition of the country, (instead of going for growth and thus increasing the number of jobs for workers of all races,), exacerbated by state capture, cadre deployment and lately the construction mafia.

Most serious economists and politicians, other than the communists and the extremists like Julius Malema, understand that it is not race that counts, it is the number of unemployed and unemployable people and those who have had to become dependent on state grants. The secret is not to fixate on race; rather fixate on growth and full employment, that is how to solve the problem of the highest unemployment rate in the world.

Why is it that the Western Cape consistently performs miles better than all the other provinces on the jobs front? 80% of all new jobs in the country have been produced in the Western Cape. What is the reason for this? Many would agree that it is clean government, with a commitment to good governance, competent officials and ministers, and above all, an environment that attracts investors, tourists, and new residents because it is dynamic and growth-focused. There are more jobs, better schools, better hospitals, roads in good repair, traffic lights that work, fewer water problems than other places in SA, and less load-shedding. Of course, the sheer beauty of the Cape adds to its attraction, but we need to remember that SA is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with numerous wonderful places to live and visit. Take Limpopo and Mpumalanga as examples. They are places with much natural beauty, but they have a higher unemployment rate than anywhere else in our country.

The difference screams at one: the Western Cape province is governed by the DA, while all the other provinces plus the national government are governed by the ANC. It is as simple as that.

Mr Cameron Dugmore, leader of the ANC in the Western Cape Parliament stated this week that the province is not doing as much as it could for the poor and the disadvantaged because it is governed by the opposition and therefore does not have the active assistance of the national government. What an admission! The following question demands an answer: Every other province in the country is governed by the ANC, and therefore presumably has the co-operation and assistance of the national government. Why are they doing so badly and doing far worse than the Western Cape? I suspect that Dugmore’s illogical view will be rejected by the voters of his province and that the ANC will again shrink and not grow.

If voters allow themselves to be convinced again that the ANC is doing a great job, they should go right ahead and vote ANC. If they feel that ANC government is lousy government, the solution is obvious: vote for the largest opposition party, or at the very least, for one of the parties making up the Multi-Party Charter and enable the MPC to give them a new government that can and will perform better.

Douglas Gibson is a former oppositioin chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand

This article first appeared in The Star.