Even the lefties are worried

David Bullard provides the latest reading from his gloomometer


It’s hard to believe that even the most rabid, woke, anti-free market lefty isn’t experiencing some nagging doubt about the future of our country. Obviously there are those on the extreme far left who are enthusiastically cheering on the complete collapse of the South African economy and the opportunity it will offer to rebuild a new South Africa in the image of Zimbabwe or Venezuela.

But surely there must be many who are starting to worry about their future and the future for their families. For example, where are all these promised jobs going to come from and will your children have the right skin colour to qualify for one of them? What will happen when the country eventually runs out of money (as must surely happen eventually) and can no longer pay the massively bloated public sector?

Will the police have the numbers or even the desire to handle the resulting riots? Will it really matter if we only have 6 hours of electricity a day if we no longer have any manufacturing industry? What will happen when drought, crime and maladministration lead to massive countrywide food shortages? As our water supplies become even more poorly managed what would happen in the event of a massive outbreak of typhoid or cholera in the country?

Is there a plan or would the President appoint a 10 person committee to consider the problem and advise him at a later date? Do we have the resources in our public hospitals to handle such a situation and would we even have sufficient foreign exchange to import the necessary medication? In the unlikely event of a foreign invasion are our military adequately trained to defend our country or would they demand a 8% pay rise before agreeing to fire any shots?


I suspect we all know the answers to these questions and the only surprise is that more South Africans aren’t feeling decidedly queasy about our future prospects. These days it’s easy to be accused as a commentator of being negative but, from personal experience, I’ve never felt that a good dose of negativity is a bad thing (although I prefer to call it Afro-realism).

Let’s face it, you’re either going to be pleasantly surprised or you’re going to get exactly what you expected. In the early days of ANC rule I was firmly in the pleasantly surprised camp and even wrote that I would vote ANC if there were an election. But that was back in March 1997 and things have changed somewhat since those days.

I was even prepared to give the ANC my endorsement in 2009 when I honestly believed that Jacob Zuma would be a welcome change from the pettifogging AIDS denialist he was replacing. I wrote then that I thought that Zuma was probably clever enough to know what he didn’t know and would be smart enough to seek wise counsel. I hadn’t imagined it would be from a corrupt immigrant Indian family though.

Mea culpa.

Having read a fair few optimistic outlooks for this country I can state with some confidence that they fall broadly into two categories. The first is the warm endorsement from somebody who is about to go and take up a lucrative offer overseas but still wants to keep his/her SA options open.

The second, and by far the most common, is from those South Africans who have made what is commonly known as “a shitload of money” and are in the happy position of probably not caring one way or another. Their highly successful business careers over the years have enabled them to shore up large reserves in more friendly climes should the hot smelly stuff hit the whirring fan blades here at home.

Since they still have substantial assets in South Africa it would be idiotic to put those at risk by talking the country down but the reality is that they are probably as pessimistic as those of us who have no choice but to ride out the gradual collapse of our beautiful country. Maybe The Who’s Roger Daltrey had a point when he sang “hope I die before I get old” (except that he hasn’t).

My own gloomometer setting had to be recalibrated last week when I heard the news that Bathabile Dlamini had been appointed to head the Social Housing Regulatory Authority, a job which presumably carries a similarly stratospheric salary to most ANC cadre appointments.

I wrote two weeks ago about the keen competition between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and former speaker and vice president Baleka Mbete for the coveted title of dumbest and most embarrassing female SA politician but it looks as though they may now have competition. Clearly it was a mistake to write off Bathabile simply because the judges of the Constitutional Court found her to be “reckless and grossly negligent” last year in relation to the payment of social grants. According to Lindiwe Sisulu someone who is reckless and grossly negligent suits the task perfectly.

The real question here is, where was Cyril? I know he’s been in Brazil and that he must have been looking forward to his 67th birthday celebrations but how in the name of all that is sane can this appointment be taken seriously? Either there is a leadership power struggle here between Sisulu and Ramaphosa or one must assume Cyril thinks it’s a great appointment and one that ANC supporters will embrace with enthusiasm.

There is another possibility of course and that is that Cyril and most of his ANC compatriots are sufficiently well hedged financially and that, like some of our billionaire business people, it really doesn’t matter what happens to South Africa over the next few months. That’s for the little people like you and I to worry about and with an election a full five years away there is still time to empty what’s left in the feeding trough.

Oink oink.