South Africa twenty-seven years on

Phumlani Majozi says were are in a precarious position as a nation

South Africa’s first democratic elections were held on April 27, 1994. Hence the public holiday called Freedom Day this week.  It was a monumental day for the majority of South Africans.

After decades of being marginalized by the apartheid system, most South Africans finally had the opportunity to participate in the election of the country's leadership.

A lot has happened since then. South Africa’s national rugby team has won the world cup three times. We became the first African nation to host the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in 2010. We have also seen the growth of the black middle class and business in the democratic South Africa. And other things, we achieved as a nation prior to Jacob Zuma’s administration.

One of the saddest things that have happened between 1994 and today, is that the first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela, is no more. He died in December 2013.

In March last year, I was fortunate to watch and listen to Moeletsi Mbeki in a conversation with billionaire Rob Hersov on a webinar. Moeletsi Mbeki is the younger brother of former President Thabo Mbeki. As I have said in my previous writings, Moeletsi is a man I have great admiration for. He is very brave – not afraid to speak his mind.

In that webinar with Hersov, Moeletsi said that South Africa has had successes and failures after 1994. He was right.

However, my honest view at this stage of our young democracy is that we are supposed to be at a much better place than where we are. African National Congress incompetence has scarred South Africa.

But it's fair to say that the economic performance was a little better under Mandela and Mbeki. It was from Jacob Zuma’s administration that we accelerated downhill on the economy, and state corruption.

We are now in a precarious position as a nation. State corruption has reached pandemic proportions. Crime levels remain shocking, as Minister of Police Bheki Cele presented the statistics in February. The ANC has failed dismally in the fight against crime. And the world, sadly, has noticed these crime levels.

The United States' government has warned its citizens about South Africa. Joe Biden’s government warned its citizens about the high levels of violent crime: armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles. I am embarrassed. You should be too.

I see crime as the biggest crisis facing the democratic South Africa. The crime levels alone disqualify the ANC from governance.

Government debt and unemployment has shot up over the past decade. Under the ANC, we will not experience robust economic growth averaging at least 4%. I see no chance of that happening.

With that, let me  share my thoughts on where we are in the state of politics since 1994.

Our political environment is in a disheartening state. People refrain from voting – which helps the ANC maintain its dominance. So even though the ANC is in long-term decline, it still commands support amongst those who vote. 

Opposition parties fail to capitalize on the decline of the ANC. I do not only blame them for this. The average South African voter is naïve in not giving other parties the opportunity to govern South Africa given the ANC's dismal performance on governance. 

One of South Africa's very big problems since 19994, has been the Tripartite Alliance. This is the alliance between the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. This alliance puts its interests first, not those of South African citizens. Hence we do not see robust pro-market economic reform.

I was asked by Chai FM’s Howard Feldman, on his morning show months ago, about what the solution should be to the government/unions alliance problem. My answer was that it is voting out the ANC that will help resolve the issue.

That is the only way to get rid of the problem. Because the ANC will not break away from the Alliance, and SACP and COSATU will not give up on the alliance either. Outside of the Alliance the SACP and COSATU are weaker, and they know it. 

What I fear about the future of South Africa is the potential coalition between the ANC and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters. Such a coalition will be disastrous to the country. South Africa will turn into Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

We have a very long way to go. The country faces many challenges that the ANC fails to surmount. This week's Freedom Day should remind us of that reality. My hope is that the country changes course soon.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi