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July 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa is South Africa’s top Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) employee. He has been dropped into his occupation because he’s politically correct and because he belongs to a certain designated group. Like many BEE nominees, he really doesn’t know how to do his job but he pretends he knows. He makes convincing speeches and enjoys the wealth he acquired courtesy of SA’s BEE policy. He holds a very important position and takes home a very generous salary. Like so many other BEE beneficiaries, there’s little to show for his efforts. But this is where the comparisons end. Unlike most of his BEE counterparts, the president is not cushioned by others around him who can actually do the work and produce results. President Ramaphosa has been hung out to dry. He is bare on the mountain top, surrounded by a sea of incompetence and corruption, and his lame excuses for his party’s lack of achievement don’t hold water. The ANC inherited a functioning, first world country where things worked. This same party has overseen the systematic destruction of the South Africa we knew. The president’s State of the Nation (SONA) speech on June 20 was an attempt to airbrush his party’s appalling record of theft and mismanagement, and only the acolytes within the ANC’s patronage clique could possibly think otherwise. Mr. Ramaphosa is a man on a tightrope, and he may fall spectacularly. No politician in the 21st century could make a speech like his SONA address and be taken seriously, at least in sane countries. But given the nature of South African politics, the faithful will continue to vote for the ANC while the ship sinks, the food becomes scarce, the jobs wither, the roads turn to dust and the productive flee to other more salubrious lands.

The president’s speech was a parody of reality. It was style over substance. And South Africa was waiting for substance, and then some. With the country tumbling around him, he ducked and dived and ignored and obfuscated to the extent that the questions left answered and the problems unaddressed were the meat and potatoes of the well-deserved criticism which flooded the media, the business world, and dinner table conversations throughout the land. The commercial farming community was left dumbfounded: South Africa’s elephant in the room – land expropriation without compensation (EWC) – was not addressed at all. The president never crossed the Rubicon that day, although he addressed the question in the post-SONA debate with some try at firming up a plan.   But no time frame was given, only adding to the uncertainty. EWC is a central issue to the survival of the South African economy and its corollaries, food security, property rights and foreign investment.

The president declared he had received a report from a “presidential advisory panel” on land reform and agriculture, but he didn’t reveal the contents. TAU SA, South Africa’s oldest agricultural organisation, was not invited to submit proposals, while those agriculturalists who did were marginalised to the extent that they submitted a separate report, stating that the advisory panel’s report recommendations would have catastrophic repercussions for South Africa. This minority report was ignored by the president. This has become quite a devious ANC trick - asking the public and experts for their opinions, and then ignoring those which don’t tie in with the ANC’s agenda.

Unless the question of EWC is addressed up front and with finality, the president’s dreams of investment millions and jobs for thousands, and all the other humbug which we are promised at election time, will only remain words that disappear into the ether. We will indeed be on a path to just another failed African state. Mr. Ramaphosa is playing with people’s lives. He is putting the country’s food security at risk. Did it ever occur to him what would happen if farmers decided they’d had enough of his chicanery and would cease to deliver their produce to the Johannesburg market for one week? Why should they make an effort when they believe their farms will be taken away anyway? It’s not too much of a stretch to think this thought may be going through the minds of some of our food producers.

What would the ANC do then? How many of them can even grow a potato? The portly governing elite for whom food is always available does not have any solutions to this dilemma. The ANC should think about this carefully when they give productive farms to “the people” who, incidentally, don’t want these properties – they want jobs. (An Institute of Race Relations survey conducted in December 2018 revealed that only 2% of black respondents said the government must speed up land reform.  In addition the research company Brunswick said in February of this year that South Africans are more worried about work and education than land.) Bizarrely, productive farms are in the ANC’s crosshairs, despite the fact that this government has a property portfolio of 93 000 buildings and 19 million hectares of land under the custodianship of the Public Works department.

The president dreams of new cities and speeding trains. But he can’t fix the current cities and trains. He harks back to the old chestnuts such as the “theft” of land by whites, and the horrors of apartheid. He talks of curbing corruption, yet he sent a parliamentary list to the Electoral Commission that included individuals “implicated in serious crimes”. (Barney Mthombothi, Sunday Times 23.6.19). “It simply beggars belief how an administration ostensibly dedicated to eradicating corruption could choose such shamelessly corrupt individuals as gatekeepers. It takes a thief, I guess, to catch another thief”, says Mthombothi. “The ANC has given the public the middle finger. These people should be in jail, not in parliament directing matters of state”.


The president refuses to acknowledge the uniqueness of this type of crime. Even the most obtuse can discern that farm attacks are not just robberies. They are hallmarked by savagery, racial resentment and criminal cowardice because of the isolation of farms. In most cases these victims’ farms go out of production. The president doesn’t condemn these aberrant atrocities. On the contrary, he stated in New York late last year that they didn’t exist. And that there was no such thing as a land invasion in South Africa! Perhaps he feels the hot breath of EFF leader Julius Malema on his neck. This latter gentleman threatens a “spontaneous revolution” if EWC does not occur. The president feels he cannot cede more votes to the EFF, hence the New York outburst. But he speaks with forked tongue on this cryptic matter – he told Pretoria Afrikaners at a pre election meeting this year that EWC will be “handled well”!


The personal stories of farm attacks and murders are a blot on the ANC’s legacy.  “Our paradise has become a hell” lamented a farmer’s wife who endured an attack on herself and her three children one balmy April evening in KwaZulu/Natal province. She was shot and raped twice, in front of her children. The robber tried to force her teenage son to rape his mother. The intruder then tried to rape the 13 year old daughter, and threatened the other son with a bullet to his knees. For four hours the family was tortured. During the trial of the interloper, the court’s typist broke down and the hearing had to adjourn. For three months the wife was “as sick as a dog” from the anti-HIV pills she had to take.

Her family’s property was a three-generation farm, a place where she sees no more beauty, no more hope. The family had given work to the attacker – now the farm is for sale. They cannot sleep there anymore. Her sons want to leave the country. During her press interview this mother asked: “Do you hear us, Mr. Ramaphosa?”

This is the reward for some whose ancestors came to South Africa from Europe centuries ago (as other Europeans went to other new world lands). They built farms, businesses and provided employment for the local people. What did they do to deserve Mr. Ramaphosa’s crime-ridden South Africa?


The nation’s realities to which Mr. Ramaphosa did not aver are significant.

+ Can he fix local government while the same incompetent “deployees” that destroyed municipalities are still warming council seats throughout the country? Most carry on with their venality and corruption without so much as a blush. Only 18 of the country’s 257 municipalities have been given a clean audit by the Auditor General (AG). The rest are either hopelessly in debt or under administration. If you want to know why South Africa doesn’t work, check SA’s local government performances. Each year the AG gives recommendations to rectify the state of these bodies, and each year his advice is ignored. For arrogance and ignorance, there’s no better example than the country’s ANC-controlled local councils. Mr. Ramaphosa will not get it right until he unseats these political appointees. But ads for council jobs still demand Employment Equity (as it is euphemistically called): they say the councils are “equal opportunity” employers yet some declare conversely that “preference will be given to women and disabled persons”.

Perhaps preference should be given to persons who arrive at the office on time, who answer the phone, who don’t take two hours for lunch, and who are not so incompetent that they need to ask a “consultant” to do their job. (The Auditor General disclosed that R907 million had been spent over the last book year on consultants just to assist with the drawing up of financial statements!) Mr. Ramaphosa declared he was “worried” about the AG’s report. What’s the wager that he won’t appoint competent people to the local councils any time soon?  It is thus a given that the current situation will worsen. The majority of municipalities’ Chief Financial Officers – 64% - do not meet the minimum competency levels as specified by the Municipal Finance Management Act.  In the meantime sewage runs in the streets and this particular effluent recently drove 200 employees out of the Emfuleni council building as it flooded the offices! ANC councils bill electricity to citizens and then don’t pay these funds over to electricity provider Eskom - they presently owe the provider R17 billion - while large percentages of municipal budgets go to salaries and perks for employees and officials.

+ Some parts of Gauteng have recently been without electricity for weeks, on and off. These are residential areas where children go to school, mothers work and come home to cook, and heating is needed as winter grips. In most cases the causes are lack of maintenance, the stealing of cables and illegal connections. (This never happened under the previous government, it should be noted.) People who historically never planned ahead still have the same mindset. This shows in the collapse of infrastructure due to lack of upkeep.

As there is no control at SA’s borders, no one knows how many electricity free loaders come from points north. Why wouldn’t Nigerians and others come to a country where they really don’t pay for anything? The power problem has been going on for years. In May 2016 alone, Johannesburg residents suffered at least 300 power outages over a period of four weeks – an average of 11 outages per day, some lasting more than 72 hours. And all the time Eskom was being plundered by ANC acolytes and political appointees and nothing was done. Mr. Ramaphosa was significant in his silence at that time. Now he’s rushing around trying to salvage Eskom. But it didn’t die overnight – the cancer had infected its body years ago.

+ Eighty eight percent of South Africa’s transport is by road. Attacks on trucks and drivers have now reached crisis level. Since April 2018 more than 200 truck drivers have been killed, and 1 200 trucks have been either destroyed or damaged, at a total cost of R1,2 billion. Maps are now appearing in the press outlining which highway is life threatening for truckers. Profits in the truck business are low – some at only 3,8% - and many may drop out of the game. Who will then transport South Africa’s food? Mr. Ramaphosa’s ANC? Is the president even looking at this awesome problem?

+ Can the president fix some of the plundered parastatals – South African Airways, the SA Broadcasting Corporation, Denel, Eskom, Transnet, PetroSA, Prasa, the SA Post Office and many others? How will he really sort these entities out? SA doesn’t need any more ten-point plans, turn-around strategies, meetings, forums and working breakfasts to “assess the problems”. Replace the incompetents and political appointees with competent new blood. Will this happen? There is doubt if this will happen because Mr. Ramaphosa values his chances of re-election.  Once again, the rot set in some time back but there was silence then from those now making noises about “turning things around”. In 2003, an internal audit report forecast a R2 billion loss for SAA. This was due to the appreciation of the SA rand, but did nobody foresee this? Clearly experience and foresight were lacking at the national carrier. At the same time a number of Transnet units were posting serious losses. Was nobody in the ANC watching?

+ Doctors are being raped in our public hospitals. Mafia-type gangs are terrorising construction sites demanding protection money and a hefty share of the profits! You don’t pay, your equipment will be destroyed. Your car breaks down in a suburban main road and you are shot and killed at point blank range as you await petrol from a friend. Eighty seven percent of South African schools have been broken into over the past year, while parents of some Afrikaans schools are spending R50 000 altogether per month on security measures. Crime is rampant in schools throughout the country, including armed robberies, with violent protestors wielding torches and weapons entering the grounds. In many cases, there were not enough policemen to handle the situations. Schools are now war zones.

In 2016 already the cost of damage to 18 universities throughout the country was nearly R700 million. Violence continued until 2018, with taxpayers forced to pay for repairs amounting to further millions. Violence continues throughout the country as townships burn and residents are killed, almost on a daily basis. Illegal miners plunder our mines and kill those who get in their way. Those who almost stole our country – the Gupta state capturers - are now spending SA taxpayers’ money on lavish weddings overseas. None of them were brought to book.

The economy?  As long as there is uncertainty about property ownership, few will invest in South Africa. Although not many will admit it, the BEE story where 30% of a company ‘s profits must be given to a black person simply because of his colour has gone against the grain of many prospective investors.

There is only one way Mr. Ramaphosa can salvage SA’s sinking ship and that is to appoint competent people to run the country. The ANC cannot run the country, this is patently clear. When it is so obvious what can be done, why not do it?  Only the president knows the answer.