Venezuela offers SA a dire lesson in socialism at all costs

CAPE TOWN — Unless we change those at the helm of our country and tighten up our Constitution to increase accountability and dilute the incredible powers vested in the President and party leaders, the current policy direction is stubbornly and blindly headed in the direction of a now-desolate Venezuela. They have the same socialist ideology and have carried out the very same policies as our current government, to their ultimate conclusion; well almost. The results are graphically depicted below by two Institute of Race Relations experts, Sara Gon, a Fellow and its’ Chief Economist, Ian Cruickshanks. Forget about ideology for a moment. Just look at the facts. If you’re a physician and have prescribed the same treatment to two similarly-ailing patients, just one a lot earlier than the other, what do you do when the first one is admitted to ICU? The difference here is that here we have two metaphorical physicians who think and act the same but are too stubborn or ideologically-blinkered to admit or correct their mistakes. It’s a costly exercise; ask Thabo Mbeki about HIV/AIDS. – Chris Bateman

By Sara Gon and Ian Cruickshanks*

This is the twelfth week of continuous protests. Sixty-seven people have been killed and thousands injured. The president intends to rewrite the constitution.

Government supporters hold signs of the late Hugo Chavez during a rally to commemorate 15 years of a coup that briefly removed Chavez from power in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 11, 2017. Photographer: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg

The chief prosecutor challenges the president’s right to do so, but the Supreme Court says on Twitter that it rejects the challenge as “inadmissible because it is an inept accumulation of pretensions”.

The inflation rate is estimated to be over 300%. Reliance on a single natural resource to support the economy has crashed with the fall in global prices for it. In January 2016, the scarcity rate of food was estimated at between 50% and 80%. Between 16 and 17 July, 2016, over 123,000 people crossed the border seeking food.

Many reports have appeared of desperate citizens rummaging through garbage for food. The movement of all food is controlled by the government. The military is hoarding food and then charging exorbitant prices for it. Currently, a basket of basic grocery items costs nearly four times the monthly minimum wage. Foreign debt is worth six years of exports.

Water and electricity is being rationed. The shortage of medical supplies is so high that the United Nations has been asked for assistance. Thirty percent of children are malnourished. In 2016, the average citizen lost nearly 9 kilograms in weight.

The country, according to some estimates, now has the highest murder rate in the world. Welcome to Venezuela.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro waves while he waits the arrival of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos at Macagua Hydroelectric compound in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

The South African Communist Party proclaims that “socialism is the future”, and the African National Congress is proclaiming that the Second Stage of the National Democratic Revolution is in progress towards a socialist state.

We can see the future, and it doesn’t work – it is Venezuela.

  • Sara Gon is Policy Fellow and Ian Cruickshanks Chief Economist at the Institute of Race Relations.