The latest Economist has an article on corruption in South Africa. It makes for pretty frightening reading.
The article mentions several high profile cases of corruption: Zuma, Cwele, Selebi, etc.
There is also discussion of several other examples of corruption.
- 400,000 civil servants getting welfare payments to which they are not entitled
- 6,000 senior government officials who failed to declare business interests and are awaiting disciplinary hearings
- 423 prison officials disciplined for corruption; 26 criminally charged
- 923 corrupt officials from the ministry of public works have been ‘brought to book’
Corruption among those in power is a human condition. However, it seems that ANC officials are especially prone to corruption.
Even Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, explains that too many “comrades” regard election to office as simply a chance to get rich.
The Economist also mentions that corruption in South Africa is exacerbated by “a culture of entitlement to compensate for past suffering under apartheid”.
In other words many in the ANC feel entitled to take their fill because of our history. As I have blogged in the past, a feeling of entitlement has been shown to make corruption significantly worse.
The ANC claims to be working on several corruption busting laws and measures including:
- Laws to facilitate swifter and reliable prosecution of corrupt officials
- A review of the ANC’s deployment policies which currently put people into jobs based on having the right connections instead of the right skills
- Tougher rules and more openness on the awarding of public contracts
- Better protection for whistle blowers who are often suspended for “poking their noses into smelly areas”
It seems like everyone is having a go at Jacob Zuma.
I believe that he is in the wrong. But it seems my reasoning is different to that of the majority of South Africans.
By having unprotected sex with various women Zuma is setting a shocking example. He is selfishly risking the lives of his wives.
He deserves strong criticism because:
- It shows terrible disrespect to his wives. Zuma has literally risked the lives of his wives so that he could have a shag.
- It also sets a horrendous example to the men of a country plagued by rape and by HIV/AIDS.
For these reasons Jacob Zuma should be vilified.
Polygamy is not morally wrong
Many people are criticizing Zuma for practicing polygyny (one man with more than one wife).
But why is polygamy morally wrong? People assume polygamy is wrong but they seldom back up their conviction with reason.
If all parties are voluntarily entering the relationship I don’t see the problem.
Many people assume that polygyny is bad for women. In fact polygyny is beneficial for most women. Sharing half of the best man is often better than all of a bad man.
Monogamy benefits the average men, who would have no wives in a polygynous society. It does not help the average woman who could have a happier life in a polygynous society.
These women are voluntarily marrying Jacob Zuma. If they were unhappy then they would leave him.
- Zuma should be criticized for unprotected sex
- Zuma should not be criticized for having multiple wives
The Economist has an article on Zuma, South Africa, and the recession.
- The current recession means that many of Zuma’s grand campaign promises are falling aside
- This is causing serious problems among the impatient poor masses
- It is also causing problems among his powerful left leaning COSATU and communist allies
- The fact that Tito Mboweni is leaving (suspiciously timed) suggests that perhaps Zuma is giving in to pressure
- It will be crucial to see if Zuma is able to “hold his left-wing allies in check” during the recession
In short, my take is this:
South Africa is full of poor people (40% of our population is below the poverty line).
These poor masses are impatient to improve their lot. They also believe that this is their right and will happen fast.
- Many believe their current situation to be the direct result of past injustice
- They have all been promised quick and drastic change by the ANC
With good governance and hard work their lot should improve – but only over time.
This is a problem because:
- We do not have good governance. Especially at the extremely important municipal level we often have shockingly bad governance
- The ANC promises unrealistic and quick results. Zuma made lots of mad promises during the campaign which are now falling by the wayside
So we have an already impatient, poor and jobless population being continually disappointed you surely have a recipe for unrest and possible disaster?
The Economist has some interesting articles on ANC leadership election happening this weekend (here is the best one, but also here, and here). Basically they are saying that it is a pity that the ANC are choosing “between two deeply flawed candidates, neither of whom should be running the ANC or the country after next year”.
The article has scathing criticism of both candidates:
- “Mr Zuma should have been ruled out on several counts. His dreadful views on sex were revealed during his trial for rape last year. He was acquitted, but claimed that he could tell by the way a woman sat whether she wanted to have sex with him and that his Zulu culture demanded he should oblige her; also that he could avoid contracting HIV by taking a shower. He may soon be charged again with corruption.”
- “Mr Mbeki is standing just to stop Mr Zuma. But Mr Mbeki has shown by his own autocratic ways and weird views on AIDS—which he seems to think is not caused by HIV—that he too should no longer be leading the ANC”.
The real problem in South Africa is something that the articles do mention: there is no competition for the ANC.
“14 years of unbroken power have given way to corruption, factionalism, paranoia and arrogance” within the ANC. Although the ANC has “on the whole done a good job” since 1994, it is now no longer the party that should be leading the country. The ANC should spend a term in opposition so that it can “purge or renew itself”.
The problem is that the masses are an unthinking lot who blindly vote along historical lines despite the current problems in the ANC. If only they would see past race and think rationally they would know that there is a better, if imperfect, alternative – just look to Cape Town!
“South Africa deserves a lot better.”