- In South Africa the news is so terrible and the response
of our leaders so contemptuous and inept that something close to despair
is seeping through the land. Every day there are on average 59 murders,
145 rapes and 752 serious assaults, and now a new crime is being reported:
the rape of babies. (Note - these are only the officially reported crimes
- ed) This month a five-month-old baby was raped by two men; afterwards
the surgeon had to remove her bowels. Women and children are being abused
and killed in high numbers within the family, and the response of our minister
of safety and security, Steve Tshwete, has been to declare airily, "We
cannot police this; there is nothing more we can do." Mrs Marike de
Klerk, the ex-wife of the former president, has been murdered in her flat.
The rand, which was at five to the pound in 1994 when the ANC took over,
now stands at 17 to the pound. Unemployment is at 33 per cent.
- The Actuarial Society of South Africa estimates that
12 per cent of the population is HIV-positive, but this is of little concern
to the government because President Mbeki says that HIV cannot cause Aids.
This month, at a Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting,
the South African government gave its unqualified support to President
Mugabeí s reign of terror and lawlessness in Zimbabwe. Emigration
from South Africa (mainly of skilled people) is at its highest level ever.
- So, is South Africa doomed to follow the rest of Africa
into oblivion? No. There is a remedy, but it is a radical remedy. There
is no way forward except by liberal democracy; that is, the rule of the
law and a government elected on a universal franchise. It is true that
black Africans were better off under colonial rule than they are now. It
is also true that South Africa has the strongest economy in Africa simply
because it had the most white people who ruled for the longest time. However,
bringing back any form of white-minority rule is morally and politically
untenable - and anyway no whites would want the job.
- For liberal democracy to work in Africa it is essential
that two principles should be put into effect. First, we must tell the
truth in public. Second, we must treat black people as human beings. I
realise that these are shocking and radical departures, but without them
there is no hope.
- The fundamental moral difference between a human and
an animal is that the human can be blamed when he does wrong. When a dog
behaves badly, we blame the human owner for not bringing it up properly.
In Africa, when blacks behave badly, we blame the colonialists (or the
imperialists or apartheid or globalisation or something) for not bringing
them up properly. When panic-stricken policemen of the apartheid regime
shot dead 69 black people at Sharpeville in 1960, the world rose up in
outrage. When the minority Tutsi regime in Burundi set about the cold-blooded
slaughter of more than 100,000 Hutus in 1972, there was utter silence.
This is because the killers at Sharpeville were whites and so morally culpable,
while in Burundi they were black and so not morally culpable. In both cases
nobody cared a row of beans about the black victims.
- In the 1980s President Mugabe, who regards ordinary black
Africans with a degree of contempt unmatched by the worst white thugs of
apartheid, systematically butchered some 10,000 black people in Zimbabwe
without any objection from the world. Today the ANC, which screamed for
sanctions against Ian Smith and apartheid, has issued not a single statement
condemning the massive violation of human rights ó far worse than
under Smith ó under Mugabe. Again, the reason is that Smith, being
white, is a human who can be blamed, while Mugabe, being black, is a subhuman
who cannot be blamed. This belief is the fundamental reason for the disintegration
of sub-Saharan Africa.
- In South Africa, we do not tell the truth in public (what
we say in private is entirely different). This is because Thabo Mbeki,
like Robert Mugabe, has perfected the technique of silencing all criticism
by declaring all critics to be racists. It is very similar to the 15th-century
Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) used to convict people of witchcraft.
ëIf we say you are a witch, you are a witch,í has become, ëIf
we say you are a racist, you are a racist.í Suppose you were to
say, ëThere are too many traffic accidents in South Africa.í
This would be proof positive that you are a racist: you would be giving
out a ëcoded messageí that blacks cannot drive properly; you
would be suggesting covertly that blacks are incapable of ruling the country;
your agenda would be a return to apartheid; your criticism a veiled plea
to protect the narrow white self-interest and deny advancement to the black
masses. Such censure would stop any attempt to improve road safety.
- In a country where millions of people are without running
water and sanitation, the ANC has decided to spend R60 billion on gleaming
new weapons, far in excess of our needs. Following an inquiry into corruption
surrounding this arms deal, President Mbeki declared that its critics had
ëthe racist conviction that Africans, who now govern our country,
are naturally prone to corruption, venality and mismanagementí.
- Thus few dare to criticise the ANC in public, and this
lack of honest criticism is crippling our economy, shutting out the normal
signals that feed information into a healthy democracy, and condemning
millions of blacks to brutal, grinding poverty. Our dreadful crime levels
are caused partly by our dreadful unemployment, which is caused by our
dreadful labour laws. These laws make it so difficult to fire anybody that
employers are too scared to hire anybody. The Employment Equity Act requires
compulsory racial classification of workers using apartheid definitions
such as ëColouredí and ëIndianí. ëAffirmative
Actioní requires you to make appointments on race, not on merit.
Our business leaders donít attack these ruinous measures for fear
of being called racists or losing government contracts.
- Instead they smile, nod their heads and quietly shift
their businesses and money overseas. Anglo-American and other major South
African companies have already moved to London, and more would love to
follow. In the companies still here, cynical white senior managers implement
the Affirmative Action policies as they prepare for their retirement. Eskom,
the public electricity utility, has a ëspace-creationí policy
whereby white engineers and managers are encouraged to resign to make way
for blacks. The main criterion in a managerís ëperformance
appraisalí is the percentage of blacks he has working under him.
The education ministry had a policy of ëredeploymentí to get
rid of white teachers.
- The fact that jobs are awarded on the basis of skin colour
has many evil consequences. Blacks getting jobs this way feel humiliated,
while the excluded whites feel resentful. Some blacks, knowing that employers
are desperate to fill their racial quotas, demand far more than a white
would for the same job. Some blacks become rentiers who feel entitled to
high pay and fancy company cars simply because of their colour. No matter
how poor the performance of some blacks, employers dare not dismiss them,
and can get rid of them only by giving them enormous severance packages.
The competent blacks are associated with the incompetent blacks and they,
too, get caught up in the cycle of frustration and resentment. Business
efficiency falls, race relations suffer, and whites leave the country.
Affirmative Action applies only to a tiny elite of educated blacks, while
the vast majority live in desperate poverty and the huge black army of
unemployed keeps growing. And if you say, ëGet rid of these terrible
laws that are shutting millions of black people out of the economyí,
you are condemned as a racist protecting white privilege.
- The outstanding achievement of the ANC government has
been financial management. Our debts are small and inflation is low. Unfortunately,
the phrase ëOur economic fundamentals are soundí is always
followed by the phrase ëThe rand drops to a new lowí. There
are all sorts of silly explanations for this, including ëspeculationí
and ëracismí, but the simple reason is that the South African
economy is less efficient than that of other countries and is becoming
worse. To produce a unit of added value in South Africa costs more than
in other countries; rand costs cannot be reduced because of restrictions
such as those caused by the trade unions; and so the rand drops against
other currencies to compensate. The inefficiency is caused by lack of investment,
low levels of skills, low morale, the labour laws and a poor infrastructure
of communications, health and law enforcement.
- Amid the gloom there are two recent examples of how things
can be made to work well. The official opposition in South Africa is the
Democratic party, which had an impeccable history of fighting apartheid
and included the wonderful Helen Suzman. It is now led by Tony Leon, a
tough, articulate liberal. The ANC loathes the DP far more than it loathes
any of the former supporters of apartheid. Two years ago, the DP formed
an alliance to rule the Western Cape province. And, lo!, they were able
to solve problems thought to be insoluble. They distributed free anti-retroviral
drugs to all poor pregnant women with HIV and to women who had been raped
ó something that has never been done in any province ruled by the
ANC. They rapidly stopped a wave of assassinations against black bus-drivers
and black passengers. They provided a measure of free water and electricity
to the poor. Their education minister, a dedicated and courageous woman,
Helen Zille, provided proportionately more funding to the poorer schools
(which happen to be black), and made sure that the pupils rather than the
atrocious black teachersí trade union were the primary consideration.
Things improved markedly. Of course, the ANC vilified them for this, ceaselessly
accusing them of racism. Unfortunately, for disgraceful reasons, the coalition
has broken up and the ANC will now rule the Western Cape.
- South African newspapers are free, but almost all are
craven supporters of the ANC and feel that their civic duty is to protect
the government from the people, especially people such as Tony Leon. They
do not allow any potent criticism of President Mbeki ó with one
conspicuous exception: Aids. Here they constantly condemn Mbekiís
stance. This has given courage to civil organisations, and one of them,
the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), has taken the government to court
for its refusal to provide poor people with anti-retroviral drugs, and
won. It is an inspiring triumph for South African democracy.
- South Africa has huge resources and many talented, industrious
people. We can make our country safe and prosperous, but to do so requires
great moral courage. We must condemn Mbeki when he does wrong. We must
get rid of callous idiots such as Steve Tshwete. We must say what is true,
no matter how loudly we are called racists for doing so. We must appoint,
criticise, praise, pity and punish black men in exactly the same way as
we appoint, criticise, praise, pity and punish white men.
- If we carry on with the lies, smiles and silence, we
are surely doomed.