Ivo Vegter: South Africa’s governance crisis is only getting worse

In the face of ongoing challenges, South Africa’s ANC-led government struggles to maintain essential services. Recent disruptions in refuse collection, ongoing water restrictions due to vandalism, and railway infrastructure issues underscore the deteriorating state of affairs. The failure of multiple government entities to publish financial statements and the looming public debt crisis adds to the country’s woes. Amidst this backdrop, the call for change grows louder. The DA, despite its imperfections, offers a more competent and responsible alternative for a brighter future in South Africa.

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Bad things are going down

By Ivo Vegter

The local news is a constant barrage of bad news. Under the ANC, this will only get worse.

This week, on Monday, our ANC-run municipality implemented a new refuse collection schedule. This was supposed to improve the service and make it more efficient.

By the end of Monday, there was already a backlog, because five of the trucks needed to have their tyres replaced, leaving only two on active duty. We frequently have problems with our trucks, because since the destruction of the rail line, dump trucks have to haul their loads 100km to a landfill near Mossel Bay, causing excessive wear and tear.

On Tuesday, we learnt that the tyres would only be delivered on Wednesday. On Wednesday, we were told that no refuse would be collected at all, as no trucks were available. By Thursday, three trucks were back in operation, but everyone’s newly scheduled collection day was now shifted out by two days.

It was an inauspicious start to the new and improved refuse collection schedule.

Last year November, after a month-long dry spell, our municipality instituted strict level three water restrictions. After an unusually wet winter, those restrictions remain in place, however.

The reason can be found in a set of photographs passed around on social media, taken at one of our two small drinking water storage dams, showing the theft and destruction of pumps, wiring and a generator reportedly worth a million rand. We’ve got rain for Africa, but our tap water is undrinkable, and our water restrictions remain in force.

Rail ‘recovery’

Elsewhere, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has been telling everyone who will listen that they’re doing a great job at ‘recovering’ at least some of the country’s decrepit rail corridors.

Of course, the collapse of those corridors, which saw ridership plummet from 600 million pax per year to a meagre 15 million, as almost everyone fled the crime-infested and eventually derelict train service, was entirely PRASA’s fault in the first place, but let’s not be churlish. They’re working on it, right?

Not six weeks ago, the minister of transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, along with PRASA executives and board members, hosted a joyful opening of the rail line between Germiston and Leralla station in the heart of Tembisa, as part of the rail recovery programme of infrastructure and stations.

‘The Leralla to Germiston line forms part of the 18 corridors [out of 40] recovered to date by PRASA, and plans are underway to extend the services from Germiston to Johannesburg,’ crowed the media release.

True to its word, that line had just been ‘recovered’, and PRASA was running ‘test trains’ along it, when, on Wednesday, a 50-year-old pedestrian bridge at Jeppestown collapsed onto the tracks due to decades of neglect.

The collapse injured two people, one fairly severely. It would have been a lot worse if the bridge had been full of pedestrians, as it is during peak time, or if trains had been running on the tracks below.

That collapsed bridge is symbolic of how it is going for the ANC.

Late financials

Then there’s the news that Eskom, SA Airways, Denel, Alexkor, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Compensation Fund, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme have all failed to publish their financial statements by the 30 September 2023 deadline.

Of those, Denel hasn’t published statements in three years, and SAA hasn’t published statements in five years.

If you or I did that, our companies would have been deregistered, cancelling their legal capacity to enter into any transactions. But no, government plays by different rules.

Acting Eskom CEO, Calib Cassim, told the media that ‘there were one or two transactions’ that the Auditor-General had questioned, and that the PFMA audit had also yet to be completed.

One or two transactions. Yeah, sure, buddy. No biggie.

Eskom is a repeat offender, though, and as the largest issuer of bonds in South Africa (meaning the largest share of the country’s sovereign debt belongs to Eskom), it is in a unique position to cause creditors to recall not only their loans to Eskom, but their loans to any and all public entities in South Africa.

The public debt crisis, the fiscal gap, and the broader state of the economy, will get much worse over the next five years, according to Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt. He’s right. If you think it’s rough now, buckle up.

Bird flu

Then there’s avian influenza. No sooner had the protectionist communist Ebrahim Patel reimposed massive anti-dumping duties on imported chicken, when the gods of capitalist reality punished the local chicken industry with mass cullings. Not that I expect anyone other than the big industry players to call the state vet to come kill their chickens if they detect higher than expected mortality among their birds. Small farmers can’t afford to do that, and nobody has any respect for the law in South Africa, anyway.

Meanwhile, the prices of both chickens and eggs are going stratospheric. As the last-resort sources of protein for the poor when everything else has already become too expensive, this will hit South Africans hard.

Great job, comrade Patel! Why not ban all food imports, see how that goes? Or ban all imports, altogether? Imagine how the local industries will thrive if South Africans have no other choice but to buy their high-priced, low-quality goods?

And this is just a small sample of the inexorable deterioration of South Africa under ANC misrule, day by day, week by week, month by month.

Warning

The government is fully aware of all this, of course. In July, President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘warned’ that ‘We have good quality infrastructure, but in far too many instances, it is not being properly maintained and upgraded.’

Warned who, exactly? I mean, the people know, Squirrel. They’re the ones who suffer every day, and sometimes die, because of the ANC’s failure to govern.

Who are you warning? Who is running the country? Who is in charge? Will you ever take responsibility for the destruction the ANC visited upon South Africa?

It should be patently clear now that Ramaphosa is speaking to sentiment, not to people. He’s hoping to convince bond investors not to pull the plug.

He’s doing that despicable grinning-and-gladhanding thing that slimy politicians do when they want to pretend they’ve got everything under control.

What he is not doing is actually fixing any of these failures. If he ever intended to, which I doubt, he has given up trying. His only mission now is to save the ANC’s kleptocracy and patronage network, so the National Democratic Revolution can come to fruition.

He is not trying to improve your news headlines. He is working to make them worse.

Vote DA

Destructive rainfall fell across the Western Cape on 24 and 25 September. As a result, every single route into Cape Town from the east was closed, at many dozens of locations, with bridges or roadways washed away across much of the Overberg and Winelands regions.

A day later, however, there were two routes open between George and Cape Town, one via the R62, and one via the R44/R43/R326. People who’d driven the latter route reported that those roads were in ‘amazing condition’, with ‘not a single pothole’, and ‘what an absolutely stunning drive too!’.

On social media, I commented that this is why you want the DA to govern. Giulietta Talevi, an editor at the Financial Mailresponded pointedly: ‘Ja, but John or Helen or something.’

She’s right. Whatever one thinks about the leadership of the DA, or some of its members, or a few of its policies, or its frustrating habit of shooting itself in both political feet every few weeks, it would be idiotic not to support the DA in the 2024 elections.

The more power the DA is given, the less likely that an ANC/EFF coalition can form against it. The more power it is given, the less likely that grasping minnows with ill-considered, populist manifestos and no experience of governing will disrupt the opposition coalition.

The DA won’t do any of the outrageous conspiracist stuff opposition parties claim, like bring back apartheid, or cancel social grants. On the contrary, it will likely expand social security, and by rekindling private sector growth, begin to make a dent in unemployment.

What it will do is try to govern with a modicum of competence and responsibility. They’ll likely get the basics right, much of the time, in most places.

That will, slowly but surely, make your life better, and your weekly news headlines much less depressing to read.

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This article was first published by Daily Friend and is republished with permission

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