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Friday, 25 January 2013
SOUTH AFRICA – “IN DANGER OF BEING A FAILED STATE”?
22 January 2013
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The last Insight
which you received in early December was a lead-up to the ANC's
important electoral and policy-making conference later in the month. We
focused in particular on the probable election of Cyril Ramaphosa to a
top position in the ANC – something we predicted and which of course
happened. We also said – and this didn't take much intelligence – that
President Zuma would be re-elected and receive the second term which he
so much wanted.
regards policy, the ANC conference took the issue of nationalisation of
banks and mines, etc. off the table. But how far from the table the
issue of nationalisation of mines is, is anybody's guess – given the
ANC's emotional and counter-productive reaction to Angloplat’s
announcement that it intended temporarily closing certain of its mines.
Also important from a policy point of view, the conference adopted the
National Development Plan which, as readers will know, we have promoted
in this brief.
more from the conference than these positives would be asking too much.
Because, quite frankly, South Africa's problems right now are enormous.
Socially and economically, our society is divided and unequal,
ill-disciplined, frustrated and angry, and too easily resorts to
violence. Our institutions of representation, mediation and
reconciliation – whether government, unions or private sector leadership
– have at times malfunctioned or broken down. Economically, the
infrastructure spending which the government relied on eight months ago
to generate jobs, and for which financial provision was made, hasn't
been made available. Certain sectors of the economy, notably mining and
minerals with its huge job generation potential, is distinctly in
decline with little prospect of either internal or external investment;
and our fruit-exporting business, carefully built up over decades, has
seriously been affected by widely publicised violent strikes. All this
following on the Marikana tragedy.
unhappy state of affairs is reflected in rating agency evaluations of
the country and media perceptions. Last Thursday, Finch downgraded South
Africa’s banks and financial institutions, bringing them into line with
the Moody's and S & P’s downgrading of the country’s sovereign risk
five months ago. The latest Financial Mail's
cover story describes the country as "mired in crisis", and last week a
Russian economist specialising on Africa said "South Africa is in
danger of tipping over and becoming a failed state".
is over the top and unreal, but it unfortunately is the basis on which
foreign decisions on South Africa will be taken. And no doubt
commentary like this has a negative impact also on internal South
African business decisions. And therefore, as South Africans in all
sectors of our society, there is a desperate need for us to respond.
The fact is – we are in trouble – and this is not the time for simple
statements of intention. It is a time for action.
Cyril Ramaphosa must assume the position for which he was elected. The
only person in South African public life with some charisma (what
Minister in the South African cabinet would attract an interview by
Christiane Amanpour?). The public reaction to his election was
enthusiastic and even more so when ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe,
speaking immediately after Ramaphosa’s election, said that he would be
the de facto prime minister of the country – so raising enormous
expectations among South Africans and interested people abroad. But
right now, we have a lame duck deputy president who has already been
assigned to a new position, and we have Ramaphosa going around the
country making apple pie and mother love speeches, while all the time
losing the magic that got him elected by the largest number of votes
cast at the conference. It is a ridiculous situation given what this
Trevor Manual as the responsible minister must come out from the
shadows and start a visible process – it must be visible – of bringing
government policy in all areas into line with the National Plan.
putting all our eggs in the Ramaphosa basket will not be enough. One
person can do a lot to turn situations around. But much more is
needed. There has been a great deal of talk about an inclusive approach
by business. Inclusivity applies also to government. We need to
reinforce the government and the Cabinet by introducing excellence from
the private sector. President P.W. Botha did it as did F W De Klerk.
And there is therefore no reason why President Zuma shouldn’t do it.
There are some very extraordinary South Africans who could make an
immense and unique contribution to in particular the execution of
policy. They are “non-politicals” with no particular political axe to
grind. I think of Phuthuma Nhleko, Bobby Godsell, Iraj Abedian, Wendy
Lucas-Bull, Roger Jardine, Seapei Mafoyane, Jayandra Naidoo and Michael
Spicer. Somebody like Pravin Gordhan, who is an excellent minister of
finance, needs help in persuading his Cabinet colleagues that money
doesn't grow on trees. These are some examples of people who can
enormously enrich the governing of our country to everybody's advantage
and generate confidence internationally. There are so many more who
would be willing to offer their services in the improvement of
governance in our country.
important developments in the run-up to the ANC's conference have been
largely overlooked in appraisals of that event. The first is that a
business lobby emerged – mainly made up of youngish business leaders –
who were prepared to raise their heads above the parapets, and no doubt
will do so again in the interests of accountability. And secondly, and
probably more importantly, has been the mobilisation of the faiths. I
say faiths because it involves Christians, Jews, Hindus and Moslems.
Under the leadership of the impressive, clearly fearless and youthful
Archbishop Thabo Makgobo they warned President Zuma that if leaders did
not act to stop the moral decay in the country, the churches would
mobilise civil society "to bring about a more healthy democracy". The
involvement of the churches early last December is reminiscent of their
crucial role against apartheid. And it is a very welcome one because it
seems that our leaders don't understand what morally accountable
government is about. This is illustrated by President Zuma's statement
last week at an ANC business bash that companies who supported the ANC
could expect their fortunes to be multiplied. The Sunday Times
followed this at the weekend by carrying a front-page report that one
of President Zuma's biggest donors had been awarded a R1.2 billion
contract by the Gauteng government. One presumes this was just a
Dear Insight Reader
With thousands of other informed and "with it" people around the world, you received the Insight
political risk service during 2012. And we would like you to continue
to receive it in 2013. Today, political risk is at the top of every
investor - whether large or small - and business person’s agenda. This
is so all over the world but particularly in Africa. We know because
after the Marikana mining disaster, Moody's and S&P's downgrading
of the country, and the violent fruit farm strikes in the normally
placid Western Cape and elsewhere, we've been hard pressed to keep up
with international enquiries along the lines of "what's going on in that
country?" And we know in our guts that those questions are bound to
increase. As a result we've expanded the Insight Africa
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Political Science, Lagos
State University ,
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation
31 January 2013
Venue: 30 Russell Square ,
Room 401, SOAS
Dr Akhaine has worked severally in various capacities. He
is contributing editor to several newspapers and journals, including The
Guardian newspaper; UK-based Review of African Political Economy, and currently
the Executive Director, Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation,
publishers of The Constitution, the leading journal from this part of
Africa . As an accomplished academic, he has several publications
in peer-reviewed journals such as Political Studies Review; Journal of Asian
and African Studies, Review of African Political Economy, Nigerian Journal of
International Affairs. Others are The Next Anarchy, Governance:
Nigeria and the World and Local Government
Administration in Nigeria :
Old and New Visions.
Akhaine has received international commendations and awards for contribution to
the cause of freedom and democracy in