In 2011, the National Planning Commission (NPC) produced a Diagnostic Report, the result of detailed research on what was wrong in South Africa. Eleven years later, the Zondo Report basically told us who is responsible and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is people in the ANC, or people swirling in the orbit of the ruling alliance, wot dunnit.
Let’s go back to the Diagnostic Report, which reported that, “since 1994, significant progress has been made towards making South Africa a more just and inclusive society. Access to primary and secondary education has been expanded to include almost all of the age cohort. A reception year has been introduced. Ten million people have been accommodated in formal housing. Primary healthcare has been expanded. Access to electricity and water has been significantly expanded. Enrolment in higher education has almost doubled and, in terms of its race and gender demographics, is more representative of our nation…
“The economy has grown, public revenues have increased, the number of people in employment has risen and the economy is more diverse today than it was in 1994. While racial inequality remains a stubborn reality for the vast majority, the proportion of black people in the top 20% of income earners has risen from about half to well over two-thirds between 1995 and 2009.”
That was, for the most part, the good news. It was more or less what was achieved by the Mandela and Mbeki presidencies, but something happened on the way to heaven (Phil Collins is a percussive genius, and sometimes gets the lyrics right #justsaying). The Polokwane Class Project of 2007 got hold of the country, and it wouldn’t let go – until 2018, when Cyril Ramaphosa somehow, by various means of coercion and consent (a nod to Antonio Gramsci might be in order), got Jacob Zuma to step down.
But that is another eight years in the future. Back in 2011, the Diagnostic Report made it clear that the country faced: poor educational outcomes; the population, especially black people, carried a disproportionately high disease burden; communities remain divided – socially and along the spatial borders of apartheid; public service delivery was “uneven”; unemployment was unsustainably high; corruption was rampant; and the country’s infrastructure was “crumbling”. In other words, the country was up the creek, but still had a paddle, with the NDP as a type of riverine arterial map. To be fair, the NDP was an almost great plan…
Somehow, somewhere upstream the paddle was lost. Lack of commitment and a firm grip on things may have caused it to fall into the creek. It’s what happens when you put the paddle in the hands of inexperienced and unqualified people.
Alternatively, the paddle was sold and a new C-Class or an E-Class (it’s hard to keep up) was bought with the money.
And so, if the Zondo Commission’s reports have any value, it is quite clear about two things. First, we are further up the creek and we now have no paddle. Second, it is almost impossible to find someone, anyone, in the reports who was not (now) or never has been in the ruling alliance. As in most cases, there are some exceptions; it would be wrong to paint everyone with the same brush (I avoided using the word “tar” because I am afraid it may have racial connotations).
Never mind the people who are now trying to place themselves on the right side of history. The Polokwane Class Project of 2007 included people across a spectrum who now make out like bandits; Mac Maharaj (ANC), Neil Coleman (Cosatu), Julius Malema (ANCYL)… They were all part of the forces that made up the Polokwane Class Project, and that led the country to ruin.
If you go through the Zondo Reports with a fine-tooth comb, it is extremely difficult to find someone who was not part of the alliance. There are, of course, people who – like being stuck in a horrible marriage hoping things would work out right – eventually walked away, especially when they saw no end to corruption, cronyism, unprofessionalism, misguided transformation (as an end in itself), and the tortuous drip of self-sanctification.
In this latter instance it was a case of “Who me? I don’t know. Nobody told me. But because nobody told me it doesn’t mean nobody told somebody. Maybe somebody told somebody, but nobody told me”. Angazi.
Although I have not read all the reports, I will conjecture that if you look at everything that has gone wrong in the country over the past 15 years or so, it can be tied to the ruling alliance. From dodgy tenders that made moegoes millionaires, to dodgy doctorates, mythical shebeens, clearly identified flying objects landing at military bases and the increase in expensive luxury automobiles – we have a sense, now, of who the villains may be.
I want to go back to something I pointed out on these pages previously – we have reached a stage where it may become impossible to arrest one person for something that everyone is doing. When I looked at the way criminals hollowed out the Italian state, especially in Sicily, I heard the saying, “Tutti colpevoli, nessuno colpevole”; if one person in the village is guilty then everyone is guilty. You can’t exactly arrest an entire village, now, can you?
Put colloquially (more figuratively, actually), the 2010-11 Diagnostic Report of the NPC detailed what had gone wrong, and the Zondo Reports have suggested who might be responsible. There are no points for guessing right. DM