The statements of the government and the ANC are as unrealistic as the famous stories of Baron von Münchausen: both are so far from reality that they belong to the genre of heroic fantasy. However, the differences are also glaring. Von Münchausen’s tales are creative untruths, entertaining its hearers because of the skilful transition from reality to absurdity. The ANC’s untruths are serious policy statements, parading absurdity as real truth.
Whereas Von Münchausen’s tales emanate from a witty brain, the ANC’s tales emerge from an institutionally entrenched delusional disorder.
The very first paragraphs of the January 8 declaration suggested the following reality:
“The January 8th Statement… gives inspiration and encouragement…
“The people of this country have entrusted the ANC with the responsibility to… building a better life for all. Over the course of its history, the ANC has lived up to this responsibility.
“In government, the ANC led the reconstruction of our society from the ashes of apartheid misrule.
“Prior to the onset of the global financial crisis, our policies contributed to the revival of our economy, the creation of millions of new jobs, the stabilisation of our public finances and the reduction of poverty.
“(T)hese achievements earned the ANC the confidence and trust of the South African people.”
JSE’s head of equities voices his despair
- The ANC has lived up to the responsibility of a better life for all: not even Red Riding Hood will believe that.
- The government has stabilised public finances! Not even Tito Mboweni believes that (and if he does, Fitch, S&P and Moodeys don’t).
- The ANC government has reconstructed society from the ashes of apartheid misrule: well, it certainly added several deep layers of misrule, corruption and especially the ashes of run-down state-owned enterprises which were financially viable under the previous government.
But it is the ANC’s virtual reality perception that had me rolling with laughter when it listed its four priorities for 2021:
“Firstly, to act together with all South Africans to defeat the coronavirus. We start the year in the midst of a second wave of infections that is spreading far faster and has the potential to cause greater loss of life than the first wave. This requires effective implementation of prevention measures and a rapid and efficient programme to provide a vaccine to all our people.”
- The language portrays the delusional disorder: there is a blind eye for the damage caused by its own actions, in this case the lockdown strategy. Not once has CR availed himself for a proper Q&A session on the governments modelling of the virus, the so-called scientific basis for their strategies and the economic as well as health implications of placing coronavirus cases on a pedestal, relegating all other matters – including job losses – to the realm on the non-essential.
“Secondly, to place our economy on a path of renewal and recovery. This path must be one which overcomes the apartheid and colonial legacy of poverty, inequality and unemployment.”
- The delusional disorder is at work again: nothing about the destruction of jobs through lockdown on a scale unprecedented since 1910. Following the Goebbels and Trump examples of repetitively repeating lies as the truth, the focus falls on the colonial and apartheid heritage.
“Thirdly, we must forge ahead with the fundamental renewal of the ANC. (O)nly an ANC with ethical, selfless and disciplined members… can lead the effort to reduce coronavirus infections and drive radical social and economic transformation.”
- This statement is made with Ace Magashule still safe and sound in Luthuli House. The delusional disorder blinds the eyes to see the undisciplined unethical behaviour that the Auditor General has highlighted in connection with the Covid 19 PPE funding.
“Fourthly, we must work to build a better Africa and a better world. We must intensify our contribution to Africa’s development and building a more just and peaceful global order.”
- This statement rates on the same level of reality as a toddler claiming he’s about to launch a spaceship to Mars. A systemic inability to run municipalities under its control, but offering advice to Africa and the world.
An utter nightmare and an anti-climax
This is a delusion of grandeur by a government that can hardly run a bath. Too harsh? Let’s consider the following testimonies:
Langa Manqele, JSE head of Equities and Equity Derivatives, in a tweet on 9 January voiced his despair. It is worth quoting it almost in full:
“Let me vent! Attempting to figure out where @PresidencyZA is, as far as the implementation of key economic decisions/actions is concerned, or to work out its overall economic policy thrust, is an utter nightmare and an anti-climax.
The presidency’s website is littered with useful but fragmented reports ranging from snapshots on the Presidential Rmployment Stimulus; Expropriation Bill 2020; to Child Law Order.
“There is no thematic sorting or categorisation by sectoral areas or any other useful categories. As for logical clarity, the reports have no cohesive and coherent summation on the evolution of economic policy itself. There is no delineation of what is being discussed to any of the observed successes or failures in relation to any of recent key policies (NFP, NGP, etc.).
“What you have is serious policy discussions appearing to rely on self-evident truths instead of systematic analysis, again without critical assessment of lessons gleaned from prior policies (lapsed or abandoned).
“(W)here the reports are of any use, vital information is buried deep in wordy and poetic language – as if to fill the void: so much so that one misses altogether the essence of what is being said and why it is important. Take for example the correct but incomplete idea from “Building a New Economy” which seeks to ‘reduce the decline of local manufacturing sector through exports. It leaves one wondering exporting what and to where? It is not mentioned, even as an example.
“Almost all key reports/synopsis on the website reference ‘infrastructure’ as being key. This is wonderful but a little digging reveals a worrisome philosophy which sees infrastructure primarily as an enabler for job creation instead of economic competitiveness. The predictable outcome of such a philosophy is that SA will have by design a very temporary job spurt that cannot be sustained beyond the infrastructure build period. Have we not seen this movie before?
Ferial Haffajee, associate editor of Daily Maverick, and an enthusiastic cheerleader for Ramaphosa after he assumed the leadership of the ANC at Nasrec in 2017. In a recent piece she describes “the January 8 statements (by CR) were a tortured melange of nationalising the SA Reserve Bank or land expropriation without compensation.” Ramaphosa “sprinkles his January speeches with rhetoric about radical socioeconomic transformation. It’s ill-defined claptrap.”
Idea and reality never meet
Gareth van Onselen in BusinessLive describes the ANC as a pre-modern antiquated organisation. “Its ideological impulses are always outdated and its performance catastrophic, but for all that, its self-image if one of competence, hope and moral certainty. Few combinations are more dangerous.”
Commenting on Ramaphosa’s assurance that the government “has put in place a comprehensive vaccination strategy to reach all parts of the country”, Van Onselen remarks that “as ever there is no explanation as to how this will be done. The idea and the reality never meet”.