SOUTHERN MAN IMMIGRATION BLOG

A Twig! I’m Saved!

September 30, 2016
Iain MacLeod

I wish I could draw. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words.

If you can, picture a man floating without a life vest in the middle of a vast and empty ocean reaching out for a passing twig and saying to himself ‘I am saved!’

That’s how (as a frequent visitor and keen observer of South African society) I view the recent local Council elections in which the ruling ANC lost control of a number of major City administrations.

I think back to February this year when over 2500 people registered to attend our Johannesburg seminars on moving to New Zealand or Australia. As a result, we had to lay on four additional presentations and present six where we planned on just two in Johannesburg alone.

That interest reflected the turmoil over the firing, replacement, firing, replacement and rehiring of a former Finance Minister in three tumultuous days causing the rand to plummet as international investors bailed out of the currency over a terrifying degree of political and economic mismanagement. That rightly put the wind up most thinking South Africans.

The DA dislodging the ANC from absolute power on a few City Councils is it seems the ‘twig’ tossed to the drowning man…I guess you cannot blame people for hoping for salvation when their future looks decidedly shaky.

Since I arrived here on Sunday, this is snapshot of the news stories that make it into the mainstream press:

  • The President having being resoundingly slapped down by the Constitutional Court and ordered to repay millions of taxpayer rands spent on his private residence earlier this year; media reports indicate he has not yet repaid (and one suspects has no intention to).
  • Universities being torched and shut down through student protests over fee increases – as I write this a number of the country’s historically top Universities including University of Cape Town and University of the Witwatersrand have indicated they are likely to stay closed till 2017.
  • Vital infrastructure building being put off to move funds to Universities after the Government promised students no fee rises in 2016 – in at least one case, a much needed water treatment plant.
  • Train services across the country continue to be disrupted by ‘vandalism’ – a euphemism for the torching of infrastructure by those seeking to preserve vehicle taxi businesses
  • Ditto bus shelters and the buses themselves in Cape Town for the same reason
  • The country’s credit rating now one decision away from junk status by international ratings agencies
  • The loss making King Shaka International Airport in Durban is revealed as being built for the 2010 World Cup with no feasibility plan (can you imagine ever allowing such a major public project being allowed to proceed with no feasibility study?)
  • One of the local City Councils is being made virtually ungovernable one month into its mandate, it appears, by poor losing ANC Councillors. There is talk of placing it in administration.

This depressing list could go on.

This is a country where 60% of the young people have no jobs, little prospects and less hope. Where crime is rampant, corruption is deeply rooted at all levels of Government. Unemployment sits around 25% (although many people think it is much higher). The national airline, South African Airways, is flying only thanks to credit being extended by taxpayers – it cannot pay its bills out of its own income.

This is a nation of inquiries, investigations, Constitutional enquiries and rulings where getting little done but at great expense to a long suffering tax base is a national sport.

While I learned a long time ago that most people will never choose to migrate until it is too late, I remain somewhat astounded that those that can leave now, hang in. I just don’t know what they expect the future will hold.

While as human beings we naturally all prefer the security of the familiar to the insecurity of the unknown, I wonder just what it takes to shake most educated South Africans out of this lethargy.

Yesterday I met with a highly educated Zimbabwean living in South Africa. We are seeing more and more ex-Zimbabweans who were effectively forced to leave their homeland coming to see us. When we ask them why they look at us as if we are simple, their usual response is ‘we have seen it all before, this place is Zimbabwe Mark II’.

There will be many a South African who will bristle at that comparison but the parallels are stark and only a man refusing to see what is clearly in front of his face could conclude that economic salvation or rescue by a passing ship awaits.

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