Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mugabe wannabe slated for South Africa's presidency.

South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, is to vacate his office at the request of the power structure within his own party. Mbeki has been in a power struggle with Jacob Zuma. Zuma is currently not eligible to become president but it is expected that he will shortly run for parliament, be elected to that office and thus become eligible. At that point Zuma will probably take the presidency.

This is just another of the slow steps that South Africa is taking toward Third World destruction. Mr. Mbeki was a big step in the wrong direction, after he took over from Nelson Mandela Mbeki was inspired by power lust. Zuma has even a worse case. Mbeki took some major steps away from markets and toward political control of the economy. Zuma will go even further down that disastrous road.

The New York Times ran a story on this, as expected, which needs some correction. They have either misstated facts or left out pertinent information.

They claim “Mr. Mbeki brought a moribund economy back from its death bed.” Interesting. They didn’t seem to think that Mr. Mandela had taken South Africa to its economic death bed when Mr. Mbeki took over from him. An article the Times printed in 1999, just before Mbeki’s election, mentions high unemployment but says nothing about the South African economy being led to its death bed by Mr. Mandela. But then then “journalist” Suzanne Daley falsely claimed that during the “election season, whites hoarded canned goods and ammunition, while blacks died by the thousands in grisly clashes.”

This blogger was actually there and half this claim is false and the other half exaggerated. No doubt some whites somewhere in South Africa “hoarded canned goods and ammunition” but none that were actually noted at the time. To imply that all, most, or even many whites did this is simply false. And Daley exaggerates when she says “blacks died by the thousands in grisly clashes”. She also entirely left out the cause of those clashes, which was Mandela’s African National Congress supporters going to war with other black political parties. Daley’s comment, immediately following the lie about whites hoarding ammunition, makes it sound as if whites were involved in these clashes. That simply is false. The clashes were entirely within the black community and between black factions. Regardless of her distortions there is no mention that South Africa’s economy was on its death bed at the time. Now the Times reports that it was. They fail to explain how they didn’t notice this then.

The Times says that in spite of Mbeki’s supposedly resurrecting a dead economy he “moved too sluggishly to lift up most of those in need. Unemployment, variously estimated between 25 and 40 percent, has remained a manacle on the millions of South Africans living in shanties.”

This is true but also false. The Times neglects to mention that Mr. Mbeki and the ANC passed law after law to “lift up” the poor. Labor regulations were tightened and businesses forced to hand out all sorts of benefits. Mbeki and the ANC put into practice the very sort of labor laws which the Times promotes. The net result of those laws were an increase in unemployment.

The Times also neglects to mention that in the years leading up to election of an ANC government that economic advancement for blacks was quite strong. From 1985 to 1994 the disposable income of black South Africans had increased by 35%. That of Indian and colored South Africans, who had higher income to begin with, had increased by 24%. In comparison the disposable income of white South Africans had increased by only 3%. In 1967 only 7% of university students were black but by 1993 40% were. It would have been higher but during “the struggle” the ANC actively encouraged black youths to drop out of school, a policy that lowers the income of the dropouts to this day.

The reality is that the tonic the ANC forced onto the country was one of regulation, controls and restrictions. It followed the advice of publications like the New York Times and unemployment grew. Labor is heavily regulated and many workers were regulated out of jobs.

For instance, many homeowners hired maids to help clean their homes and gardeners to work in the yard. Pay was not great but significantly above zero, which was the alternative. The ANC passed legislation requiring each homeowner to provide retirement benefits to these individuals if they worked over a certain number of hours per week. Few homeowners could do this. Many just ignored the law. But many didn’t. And those who didn’t reduced the hours of employment, along with the total pay package, given to staff members. Others who were going to hire staff full time simply didn’t do it. The level of unemployment went up. The amount of compensation that workers received declined in total. True those who remained hired full time were better off. But the bulk of workers were worse off.

Repeatedly the ANC tried to lift up the poor through legislation. And repeatedly the results were the opposite of those desired. It should be noted that these same policies are chic policies in the circles of the New York Times and the preferred tonic for all that ails you in Left-wing circles. Unfortunately those policies don’t work.

Zuma is the man promoted by the trade unions and by South Africa’s powerful Communist Party. And it is there intention to move rapidly toward policies that they find acceptable. Their complaint about current ANC policy was that it wasn’t radical enough. The very tonic that is poisoning the country is being demanded in heavier doses.

Mr. Mandela already moved South Africa into a dirigist direction with a multiplicity of labor laws and racially-based legislation. Mr. Mbeki went even further. Doses of such legislation made the situation worse for workers not better. Other policies, such as in fiscal matters, helped alleviate some of the problems. But Zuma is a fiery radical with no sense of proportion at all. He will take South Africa further away from policies that work and is likely to adapt to populist measures which, while politically appealing, will have dire long-term consequences. Mr. Zuma is a consummate, albeit corrupt, politicians. As such the long-term is of little interest to him. His goal is short-term popularity no matter how devastating it will be to South Africa’s poor.

Mr. Zuma calls himself a socialist and has the support of the Communist Party and the communist-dominated Congress of South African Trade Unions. Zuma has no education and didn't finish grade school. He is a practicing polygamist and one of his wives was Minister of Health. She was particularly inept and corrupt and helped destroy hundreds of working hospitals. She was notorious for squandering most of the country's AIDS budget on a play that cost millions but was only shown to a few hundred people. Mr. Zuma is also well know to share Mugabe's hatred for gay people. He attacked South Africa's gay marriage law saying it was a disgrace but ignoring his own polygamist lifestyle. And he said that no homosexual, when he was growing up, would "have stood in front of me. I would knock him out."

Whatever his faults, and he had many, Mandela was no Mugabe. Mbeki, however, did have a tinge of Mugabe about him. He was inclined toward the petty machinations of Mugabe and used his power to settle personal scores. Zuma is much closer to Mugabe than Mandela. He shares Mugabe's desire to enrich himself through the powers of office. He proposes the same sort of destructive, but populist policies. And he works with the same sort of rhetoric as Mr. Mugabe. With Zuma on the rise South Africa is one giant step closer to becoming the new Zimbabwe.

Labels: , ,