Former anti-apartheid activist and Labour Cabinet Minister Peter Hain had said that the country, under the government of Jacob Zuma has deteriorated to zero level thereby making international investors turn their backs on the country.
In his speech titled South Africa Today: Betraying or Upholding Mandela’s Values? which was made at the Swansea University Thursday night, Hain said that Zuma’s “poor governance” has dragged the country into an economic disaster. He added that the ANC, which was supposed to bring Mandela’s vision of a rainbow nation to life had in the recent cases, disappointed the people.
“Can the ANC reclaim (Nelson) Mandela’s vision of the rainbow nation? Perhaps we all expected too much. Perhaps it was naïve to think that the party – for all its moral integrity and constitutionalist traditions – could be immune to human frailty, especially in the face of such immense social inequalities. Could any political party anywhere (including Britain) have done better?” Hain asked.
According to Hain, Zuma’s decision to fire the finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December last year, was one of the major cause of the country’s economic fall particularly in the fall of the rand and in the stock exchange meltdown.
“Although there was a modest inflow of foreign direct investment and portfolio investment into the country during the first two decades of freedom, the inflow has all but dried up since Zuma’s dismissal of the Finance Minister in December last year.
“Companies are either sitting on piles of surplus cash or investing abroad. Private citizens are spiriting as much money as they are able out of the country,” Hain said.
Hain therefore advised that for the country to come back to its feet again, the ANC-led government had to discuss the issue of corruption and cronyism which is gradually overtaking the country.
In his speech, Hain said:
“Of course, the ANC is no stranger to criticism. On the one hand, there have always been the ‘jaundiced whites’: those who reluctantly praised the ‘Mandela miracle’, but who never accepted the consequences – namely that their grotesquely privileged existence had to go. These days they can barely conceal their smirks, as they proclaim ‘I told you so!’
“I know some of these people only too well: they continually troll me on Twitter. I choose to ignore them, just as I ignored those whites who attacked me during the long, bitter battle against white supremacy and its police state.
“They and their children are also part of a whingeing ex-pat community in the UK. Their privileged South African education has opened doors for them in Britain, but they have conveniently forgotten the debts they owe to the land of their birth.
“I can – and do – dismiss such voices. But I cannot ignore the growing constituency of people who sacrificed so much for the freedom struggle, and who are now dismayed at the squandering of Mandela’s legacy.
“Jacob Zuma has indeed allowed corruption to flourish on a scale which poses a huge and cancerous threat. Cronyism has replaced merit, not only in the public services, but also in the parastatals which play such a vital role in the economy – from energy to airlines and water supply,”
However, Hain has praised the ANC for some achievement it had made for the country. He said assessing the “critical comrades” the party has done a lot since 1994 in creating jobs for the south African Youths, providing health care facilities, giving bursaries for those willing to study and lots more.
“Not just under Mandela, but also under his successors, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma – achievements all the more remarkable given the horrendous legacy of apartheid. The shanty towns; the lack of health care; the forced displacements; the dehumanizing education system, designed to keep the black majority as servants for white masters.
“All the time a growing population, continuous migration from sustainable rural subsistence to urban squatter poverty, now swelled by over two million immigrants from Mali to Zimbabwe, has meant the demand on government for basic services seems insatiable. As fast as new houses are built, new shacks appear beside them. “
“Yet in just 22 years, the ANC government has built more than three million new homes. It has created four million jobs. Millions more South Africans now have running water and electricity. Some economists say that income per capita, in real terms, has risen by almost a third. “
Hain said the government has achieved a lot more than even the British government would but that the problem now was that the government has failed to renew itself. “As the years went by, we became more managerial in our focus. We moved further and further from our roots and lost trust,” he said.
In his conclusive speech, Hain pointed out two option that the government had to take in reclaiming the lost dream. The first was to develop a new social compact, where privilege and reward are renegotiated in favor of a more equal dispensation while the second was to face a revolution of rising expectations and frustration, in which South Africa could once again become as ungovernable as it was during the darkest years of apartheid. He warned that the government should not allow country to toll towards the second option as it will take the country back to what it have long overcome.