SA: Heading for failed state

Jan du Plessis argues that the political solutions of 1994
have become the problems of 2012
An appeal for the renegotiation of the political settlement
of 1994 may seem absurd and outrageous. Generally, the
political settlement is still considered as perhaps the most
significant and momentous achievement in South Africa’s
history. The political election of April 1994 concluded the
end of the era of apartheid and introduced the final phase
of liberation and freedom under an ANC government. Any
attempt to discredit this, may seem to border on the
sacrosanct! It is just not done!
Yet, after almost twenty years of liberation and freedom,
something has gone wrong. It has become a popular topic
in general conversation. The finger pointing has already
started, but as yet, no one is willing to accept any
responsibility – or has any idea of how to deal with it.
The Tripartite Alliance (ANC, SACP and Cosatu) are ill at ease
with their achievements and call for greater "activism" and
"government intervention" in the private sector and civil
society in years to come. Society at large is aghast with a
spectacle of a collapsing government and the social
environment that has become largely "governmentally
Good governance on national, provincial and local level – as
embodied in the constitution – has become the exception.
Many government services mainly exist on paper, although
the constitution embodies it and parliament provides the
necessary legislation and budget allocation for the façade to
The growing tension between the ANC and some of its
traditional black supporters largely stems from the fact that
too much was promised – in the spirit of liberation – and too
few governing capabilities have been cultivated. The ANC
government has maintained its dominant political profile (in
terms of power and control), but its governing capabilities
have largely slipped away. The result is an increasing
ideological divide of broken promises.
This is part of a slow evolving process of "black divisions" in
the black society – a process where local black communities
position themselves in opposition to the local ANC
controlled councils. The critical issues in this new
confrontation is lack of water, open sewage, lack of housing,
roads and schools – not part of the ANC’s strong profile.
It seems as if the critical "issues" in society are shifting
from the political to the social level – from the all-
embracing "struggle" to the all permeating and pervasive
smell of open raw sewage.
The ANC is still in the game of eagerly searching for an
external enemy – usually the whites – to blame and on which
to focus the attention of supporters. However, the real
threat to the cohesion of the ANC will not come from
outside, but from internal erosion such as black ANC
supporters starting to blame the ANC government – like
Julius Malema did recently.
The white population has been in a state of constant shock.
What they now experience is a massive and destructive
distortion between what they were told in 1994 and what
has evolved over the past 18 years. They carry the rational
fear that things may get worse – much worse! To say that
they do not trust President Jacob Zuma is perhaps an
understatement. Increasingly they have started questioning
the wisdom and analytical capabilities of the former white
NP politicians of 1994. To put it mildly, the white population
is in a political "no-man’s land."
The "new South Africa" is in a survival crisis. The re-election
of President Zuma will not solve the crisis or – for that
matter – any other ANC candidate. Neither will an excellent
performance by the DA at the next general election improve
the situation. It seems that the whole political system will
have to be renegotiated and this should include all political
parties – as the critical issue by 2012 does not seem voting
enthusiasm but system failure. The political solutions of
1994 have become the problems of 2012.
What has been evolving in South Africa over the past two
decades is an environment conducive to the creation of a
dictatorship by democratic means – and time is running out
for democracy!
If there has ever been a time for some radical new thinking,
it is now!
Dr Jan du Plessis is Editor and Publisher of Intersearch. This
is an edited extract from the Intersearch Management
Briefing for August/September 2012. Dr Du Plessis can be
contacted at mb


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