If the US doesnt sanction S. Africa’s ruling party SA is a goner

Nowadays if the West thinks of South Africa it’s the country a black liberation party brought down to junk status.

Steve Apfel, | updated: 00:21

OpEds Pretoria‎, South Africa
Pretoria‎, South Africa
INN:SA

If anyone can match my direct knowledge of how quickly a trash bin can be made from an economic powerhouse, let’s meet. We have a lot to share. There’ve been two such cases of it in Sub-Saharan Africa, and I happened to work close to their heartbeats.

Remember when a landlocked country named Rhodesia was a Garden of Eden, or when the economy of South Africa stood like the Rock of Gibraltar? 

A trash bin economy may not pose a geopolitical risk. A basket case country blessed with resources below and above ground may well do, and the American administration ought to act before South Africa is low-lying fruit for an opponent like China. 

A cogent legal case for sanctions is that the country is in the grip of a criminal ruling party to whom the head of state is answerable and subservient. More trenchant, American companies can be said to have helped to bring down the economy, with no consequences for them. 

The moral case – more degenerate still – is that dirt bags, black, brown and white, were enriched at the expense of South Africans existing below the breadline, overwhelmingly black, and live it up rolling in dirty money. A dog-eat-dog society will be normalized and stabilized only when an example is made of its leaders by depriving them of ill-gotten gains and putting them behind bars. 

Criminality may be the least of the tail. Were the country at war (a foreign family looking to capture it could be an act of war) then treason is involved. What stronger case for sanctions can there be?         

Recall Rhodesia and look at Zimbabwe into which it turned. You could say that as a District Officer nurturing community development in tribal areas I helped preserve some heaven on earth. How can we be sure these were the heydays of good governance of contented citizens – indigenous,  expats, black, white, rural, urban – the days of abundance and security? Simple. There was no cross border flow in search of better pickings in the economic juggernaut to the south. Nowadays if people think of Zimbabwe at all, it’s the country that gave the world a trillion dollar banknote with the purchasing power of a loaf of bread and a bottle of cooking oil, if stores had any to sell. Who remembers the half century when the land earned the appellation, ‘bread basket of Africa?

What of the industrial-agri giant to the south? Anyone remember when foreign investors held noses at Apartheid and made a beeline for South Africa with a risk rating equal to any first world country and a currency stronger than the dollar? You could say that as an evaluator of projects to extract all that glitters on the gold and platinum fields I worked in the guts of the goose laying the golden egg. 

Nowadays if the West thinks of South Africa it’s the country a black liberation party brought down to junk status and a bitty player on the continent. How it was done differs from the methods of Zimbabwe’s liberator, but stems from one root. The ANC and the cruel tyrant Mugabe ruled with contempt for their own – for black people, the majority desperately poor, and for a middle class keeping its head above water.   

Yes I know. The contempt of the tyrant Mugabe took on a vicious and murderous streak. On the other hand, when the quick Mandela honeymoon was over, ANC bigwigs acted from, call it the heights of Zeus.  Mandela’s successor let millions of fellow blacks die from treatable AIDS before he would let the government provide drugs. On toys for boys President Mbeki was a spendthrift. Depleting the national coffers to help extract kickbacks from peddlers of unusable fighter jets and nuclear submarines was not a problem for the black liberators.  

Still, between bribery and corruption the country had real governance. 

After Mbeki came an oafish wife collector (when deposed his menagerie numbered a half dozen) who sold the national legacy to the lowest bidders. Jacob Zama’s contempt for the black electorate and his self-contempt were level pegging. What else can it be when the President comes to Indians with a distaste for dark skins for his buckshee and his orders? I wrote about a wedding, funded with money meant to uplift poor blacks, for which the Indians hired white-only waiters and made black helpers bathe before coming near the wedding tables.  

Long before the media coined the bellicose act, “State Capture,” my own eyes caught government bigwigs selling constitutional powers for pieces of silver. Three Indian brothers – illegal residents – bought them out. I would tell candidates of my school for professional qualifications to idle past a compound two blocks away with imposing gates in front of a palace built in the style Queen Victoria liked for her Viceroy of India. My students were to notice government limos invariably parked outside. It was here the President and his crew, I explained, came for their handouts and their orders.  

Had I let imagination run riot I would not have been shocked when the depth and audacity of the treason being hatched came out – three Gupta brothers conspiring with the head of state to ransack the national treasury. President Zuma put up a man who could be led to accept, if slipped $50 million, the post of Minister of Finance, and to take orders from the Indians. https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-10-03-state-capture-inquiry-nene-backs-jonass-testimony-on-gupta-job-offer/

Meantime they kept a son of Zuma like a puppy dog on a leash, entrancing him with sleek motor cars, a private jet and pad in Dubai. In the event the President’s man (did he find the plot too audacious?) got cold feet and gave the media the mother of all stories.    

Not only black and brown skins scrambled for loot. Greed being a colour blind affliction, a white family, the equal of the Gupta brothers, sank its claws and maws into public assets and state functions. 

Here the ANC model for emptying the guts out of the economy fundamentally departs from the Zimbabwe model. After despoiling that economy’s white backbone, Mugabe drove whites out, letting farms and factories and mines die the inevitable death. ANC looters acted with more nous. They did more than invite white business to feed at the trough, they partnered with it, multi-nationals most of all.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-09-11-op-ed-the-kpmg-failure-ethical-test-for-sa-business-and-company-directors Bain Consulting of Boston helped the President and his cohorts cripple the revenue service;

There was much dirty money to splash around and what better than to splash it on than super cars? Showrooms around Johannesburg are packed with toys for boys, with Rolls and Bentleys, Ferraris and McLarens, Mercedes and BMW models fit for Hollywood – making them complicit when selling an item without establishing clean or dirty money. No American executive was fired, let alone charged, let alone prosecuted, let alone returned ill-gotten gains.

There we are – more legal and moral reasons for an American freeze on assets of the ruling clique and their partners in crime.   

To what degree – by how much – did State Capture despoil the homeless, the jobless, the scrap heap scroungers (90 % black) of lives fit for a human being? Let the country’s billionaire President make the estimate. Cyril Ramaphosa knows as much about depriving black brothers of their heritage as any bigwig in his ruling party. When Vice President he looked over the head of state’s shoulder and kept his peace.

The incumbent president is as guilty as the rest. To this day he is using presidential powers to protect the looters and is answerable and subservient to many of them.  He has also leaned on the device beloved by politicians with a need to kick the can down the road: probes and commissions for the public to understand how billions of dollars went on nothing visible – under his own watch, mind you. This gives his ANC fat cats a lifetime to demonstrate that crime is more payable than an honest day’s work. Millenials will not be slow to take the lesson.    

By how much have they and the poor been robbed?  Candidly By as much as R500 billion ($33 billion) admits the President. Five years ago (the last figure) the chronic poor and the transient poor were 90 % black people – around 20 million. State Capture therefore cost each poor person $1,700, which could have been spent to help that person make a life out of an existence. The contempt of ANC leaders for their black sons and daughters knows no bounds.

The Trump administration must turn a deaf ear to President Ramaphosa repeating that his government has “begun to tackle” obstacles and corruption. That word “begun” – well trod escape road of the ill-intent, indolent and incapable, forever beginning to do something. Afterwards when did something ever get done? Never. After 25 years of ANC rule it is difficult to think of one economic plan or turnaround strategy (more escape words) executed to the end. 

Hence to probably the most cogent case for slapping sanctions on the Ramaphosa circus: it hasn’t learned the soft way. See what it can do with the hard way. Having pocketed the heritage of fellow blacks, it fills them with a vision of easy wealth by taking vengeance on the whites. Ramaphosa begs investors to sink funds into a country where land can be seized by fiat. “The land reform program (soft for ‘expropriation without compensation’) should not undermine investment in the economy or damage agriculture.”  

Here is a tweet for the White House: “Explain how the seizure of land is consistent with the willingness of investors to invest.” Or this Tweet: “Give an example or two of countries where land seizure has not damaged agriculture.” Or how about this for a Trump Tweet? “President Ramaphosa, lead by example. First expropriate land that you own.”

America must slap immediate sanctions on the ANC ruling party. The way it and the head of state deifies the tyrant Mugabe who turned Zimbabwe from heaven on earth to a living hell, is warning enough. South Africa’s rainbow nation would owe America a debt of gratitude. Asset freezes and travel restrictions would shoot a warning across the bow of the flailing once proud giant of Africa. To the whole continent, sanctions would be a warning shot. 

To be cruel is often to be kind. Or, to be kind to the guilty is to be cruel to the innocent. A basket case in the making calls for action now. Millions of victims of criminal leaders deserve not a cruel future but a kind one.


Steve Apfel is an economist with forty years experience in country risk analysis, costing techniques, mining and transport. More than this, however, Steve has authored an unprecedented  range of non-fiction, including an acclaimed book, Hadrian’s Echo , besides  authoring two  novels: “The Paymaster,” (Eagle Books, 1997) and “Balaam’s curse, 2019 (Publisher under  negotiation




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