Today, in the so-called global economic village, South Africa, still the economic powerhouse of the so-called third world continent, Africa, is known to be part of the fragile five by a gentleman economist from the USA, purportedly the world’s strongest economy, but with a deficit of debt which stands at a precarious fifteen trillion dollars. This same gentleman also coined the phrase BRICS which has been annotated to read BRICSA.
Interestingly, a merry band of ANC supporters took this term quite literally when they threatened to hurl bricks at the Democratic Alliance’s sea of blue supporters, marching on, or not, to Chief Albert Luthuli House. I stand corrected. IOL reporters branded this violent and menacing group of brick-wielders (not layers) as people wearing ANC colours of red, green and gold. And black.
In this vein, South Africa is progressively included in a unique group of formidable nations made up by Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Brazil is hosting the FIFA World Cup later this year, but unlike our beloved South Africa, stadium building projects are running well behind schedule, much to the ire of the FIFA boss, Sepp Blatter. South Africa met all targets to host a successful and memorable football world cup which saw Spain deservedly win it for the first time.
The former coloniser of most Latin American nations which surround Brazil shares an unfortunate analogy with South Africa. It has an official unemployment rate which perpetually hovers around 25 percent.
Russia remains on the brink of civil war and is still ruled with a frightening iron fist by Vladimir Putin, a son of Khrushchev’s KGB. India remains a prosperous, but divided nation, never heeding the warnings of the great Mahatma who was callously murdered by a racist Sikh.
Strictly speaking, China is the world’s most powerful nation, a communist nation to boot, where corruption and other serious crimes are punishable by death. But if you are a member of the élite Communist Politburo, you are hereby excused to proceed apace in the pursuit of material wealth for yourself and your large, extended family.
As an African reader, I wonder if this description of China sounds at all familiar.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, at the age of ninety, the world’s longest self-serving president, knows this only too well as he relies on China for his family’s important needs, such as state of the art medical attention in Saudi Arabia or Singapore, courteous visits to the Vatican City, the only nation to welcome the devout Catholic with open and benevolent arms, his brilliant daughter’s Chinese education of a very high standard and his lovely wife’s regular shopping trips to the heady Hong Kong.
To me, this description of China’s communist élite matches perfectly that of the élite of South Africa.
More specifically, the élite clique which presides over the mighty African National Congress, a machine twenty years in the making by arch-communist, Joe Slovo, who designed the Sunset Clause, and Jacob Zuma’s disgraced predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, who concretised the machinery of success known today as Black Economic Empowerment, better known by its acronym, BBBEE.
BBBEE is working very nicely and should make sure that Zuma is returned to office after South Africa’s General Election on 7 May 2014. The majority that his party will retain will be substantial, but the election date should serve as a historical monument, because it will be the last time that the African National Congress wins such an election by such a large majority, hovering in and around 60 percent.
The ANC’s official opposition will retain a slender base in parliament and may yet capture 24 percent of the vote.
The nationalist movement, the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by the scorned ANC prodigy, Julius Malema, will, or should capture a phenomenal 12 percent of the vote which will come from the hungry, homeless and unemployed masses who were side lined by the privileged cadre de- and redeployment scheme, designed to ensure prosperity for all those who hail the robber-chief.
More disturbingly, a core of Malema’s support will come from a new addition of the electorate known as the Born Free’s who will vote for him, not because they regard him as some sort of saviour, but because they think he is uber-cool. If you are currently on holiday in South Africa, you may have noticed many young men wearing red Berets.
Che Guevara to a kwaito beat. Eish!
Whenever I think of the South African political and economic scenario, I cannot help to think of a good, piping hot and tasty Irish Coffee, firmly held in a solid, crystal glass. At its base, a hefty dose of good, expensive whisky, usually only appreciated by the connoisseur with a reputation for refined and expensive tastes.
It holds up the mass of black coffee which, if you look carefully enough, does not have the solid, dark, rich colour of a well-bodied and finely cultivated coffee leaf, usually imported from the plantation fields of Kenya or Brazil. Rather, the colour is dissatisfyingly murky.
Cementing this fine base of whisky is a thick, rich, nicely whisked cream, full and not at all fat-free. It manages to ensure a satisfactory after taste in spite of the poor blend of coffee.
Most importantly, this rather inferior Irish Coffee is sprinkled with a generous dose of dark, finely ground cinnamon, accountable only to the coffee’s strong base. That, in a nut shell, is how I have come to see South Africa. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Should such a description of Africa’s powerhouse still perturb you, do go to the ANC’s website and ask the party’s valiant secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, to explain. He is a champion of the South African metaphor.
One rule of thumb, though, to survive these next few months and the months afterwards, this unique blend of Irish Coffee can be served complimentarily with a shortness of bread.