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Fires, robberies, lawlessness: The ANC’s dystopian South Africa

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Thamsanqa D Malinga is director at Mkabayi Management Consultants; a writer, columnist, and political commentator, as well as author of Blame Me on Apartheid and A Dream Betrayed.

Unlike political factionalists who will use recent events in the country to bay for President Ramaphosa’s blood, I put the blame at the broken and squeaky door of the brown building at the corner of Pixley Ka Seme and Helen Joseph streets in downtown Johannesburg – also known as Luthuli House.

If one were to describe South Africa as a disaster state, that would be a form of lexical disrespect to the word ‘disaster’. This former “miracle of the world”, so-called because of its “peaceful” transition to democratic rule almost three decades ago, has been degraded into a post-apocalyptic state that is just waiting for a madman to take the reins and declare himself lord of all who walk this land.

Wait, I think that claim has already been staked. Didn’t one ANC deployee tell us that his movement would “rule until Jesus comes back?”

Perhaps I have watched too many flicks with stories of lawlessness featuring power-hungry madmen. But judging by the developments in South Africa, you cannot fault me. The past 13 years have been hell. They seem like a century. That said, I am not discounting the first 15 years under incompetent ANC rule. But the events of the past 13 years suggest that this is a land with no hope; a land that is ready for the taking by any power-hungry despot. A new one will have to wait his turn, though. We ain’t see(n) nothing yet – pun intended.

Several notable events have led me to gnaw my teeth and curse at the sun, to ask why not just scratch this country off the face of the earth. How does a country’s legislative house burn down, and no sound intelligence update is available other than a tale full of sound and fury about a lone man seen in the one building that is supposed to have the most stringent access control measures? 

Last year we watched in disbelief as hundreds of pro-Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill. In case you missed it, it was hundreds of people – not just one. Imagine the Palace of Westminster or the Kremlin burning, and the world being told that a vagrant was “caught on tape striding the corridors”? What a shame!

Well, we only have ourselves to blame. We have been lapping up measly excuses and half-baked explanations – or just silence – from our government for years. We have lived like post-apocalyptic survivors accepting every lie, promise and excuse from the ruling lot. 

We have let the government believe that they can just give us a dumb story and serve us with a distraction while avoiding accountability – why not open up drinking holes until midnight and take attention away from the report of the Commission on State Capture? Geez, we are so gullible, it’s not funny.

How many people have dared to ask questions about how the Durban offices of the former National Intelligence went up in flames in that “mysterious fire” some years back? Yes, the offices of National Intelligence were destroyed just like that, and if my memory serves me well, there was no mention of arrests or a case before the court. And that’s not where it ends. 

The successor to National Intelligence, the State Security Agency (SSA), had six men walk into its headquarters on Boxing Day in 2016 and waltz off with R50-million in foreign exchange. Last year, documents and cash “mysteriously” disappeared again at the same SSA headquarters. This begins to sound like one of Aesop’s fables: the SSA, supposedly the guardian of the country through its intelligence network, has walk-in robberies like those that take place at isolated police stations in rural parts of the country.

Does anyone remember the robbery at the Helen Suzman Foundation? The organisation that was always taking the government to court? Were the “robbers” who made off with computers ever caught? And speaking of dead-of-night burglaries, in which country does the Office of the Chief Justice get broken into and have computers stolen, and the matter just evaporates? South Africa! You guessed correctly. For some reason, all the robbers have a penchant for computers.

From burglaries, fires and car crashes to organised hits and anything else from the pages of a Robert Ludlum novel, South Africa has it all. And on top of it, we have to admit that ours can no longer be seen as a country with a functioning government.

The rail infrastructure has been stripped so extensively that our stations resemble ghost towns. The power utility is suffering major breakdowns one after the other. Petroleum is being siphoned off the transportation pipeline and shipped to neighbouring countries, or being sold locally on the black market. Kidnappings and ransom demands are on the rise. A couple of years ago, we recorded a cash-in-transit heist each day for the first 153 days of the year. All this is taking place while the posse of ministers deployed by the ANC are taking pictures for Instagram and fighting petty wars on Twitter – while their cronies and families benefit from the destruction of the country.

South Africa is in the hands of a post-apocalyptic band of ANC henchmen, marauding gangs, power-hungry madmen and we, a gullible citizenry, are at the mercy of the powers that be.

Unlike political factionalists who will use recent events to bay for President Ramaphosa’s blood, I put the blame on the broken and squeaky door of the brown building at the corner of Pixley Ka Seme and Helen Joseph streets in downtown Johannesburg – also known as Luthuli House. The ANC and its factionalism, cadre deployment, careerism and greed have broken the government and turned this country into a land where people are walking with dry, cracked lips, with no water, no food, no bare necessities, forced to scavenge off each other by any means possible.

I guess the perception of our country and where it is heading depends on where you sit and how close you are to the ruling bandits. 

You see, in post-apocalyptic movies, those who have resources to trade can eke out a living by bartering with the marauding gangs, as their fortunate position makes them blinded to the plight of others. Their lives are not affected and they do not want to disturb the status quo. Those who have nothing, on the other hand, are at the mercy of the ruling madman, his posse and the lawlessness they bring.

Our country is at the mercy of the power-hungry who do not care about the destruction left in their wake. God save us all. DM

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