Earlier this month a former finance minister, Trevor Manuel, said it would take more than a decade for the economy to recover from the destruction left by state capture. When he became finance minister in 1996,"none of the state-owned companies were dependent on handouts from the state." Now, however, the contingent liabilities of these companies were among the biggest on the national balance sheet.
Hardly a day goes by without yet another report of failure at some or other provincial or national department, local authority, or other government agency. "State capture" is not the only reason for all the failures the African National Congress (ANC) has inflicted on this country. Reckless implementation of "transformation", including enforcement of the ideology of demographic "representivity", has made its contribution. So have growing corruption and declining accountability, never mind the cadre deployment policy.
If Mr Manuel thinks it would take a decade for the economy to recover from the damage already done, it would be interesting to know how much longer he thinks it might take for the economy to recover from the damage yet to be done. Top of the list of such damage is the ANC's emphatic decision to empower the government to confiscate private property, the Constitution to be amended if necessary. Although much of the public debate on this issue has focused on land, all kinds of property would be at risk, as the IRR has repeatedly pointed out.
Also high on the list of damage yet to be done is the latest version of the mining charter, published last weekend. Although the IRR and others have pointed out that in some respects it is an improvement on last year's version, implementation will inflict further harm on the mining industry. The onerous racial requirements attached to procurement will simply push up costs that the industry is battling to contain. Among other things, mining companies will be expected to create and sustain a whole range of black industrialists and other suppliers.
The onerous ownership and licensing requirements will almost certainly ensure that very little of the R122 billion in greenfields investment that the industry was hoping to be able to undertake in the next few years will materialise.
Having already shifted the goalposts by requiring 30% instead of 26% black ownership, the ANC is almost certain to shift them again at some future date.