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Angry South Africans should blame leaders, not immigrants

Jacob Zuma must convince ordinary South Africans that their long-deferred expectations for a better life will be met.

Too many South Africans can’t find work, which has long been the case. Lately, however, too many South Africans are blaming their plight on immigrants instead of on their own government.

If South African President Jacob Zuma wants to stop the anti-immigrant riots that have resulted in at least seven deaths in the last month, he must do more than send in the army and call for tolerance and calm. He and the African National Congress, which has ruled South Africa since 1994, must convince ordinary South Africans that their long-deferred expectations for a better life will be met.

South Africa’s economic growth has sputtered since 2011, and its unemployment rate — which has not been below 22 percent since 2000 — now stands at nearly 25 percent, with no improvement in sight. Notwithstanding wide-reaching government assistance programs, rates of poverty and inequality are both worse than they were in 1994 at apartheid’s end.

Against that backdrop, tensions over the presence of an estimated 1.7 million foreigners in the country have long simmered. The current round of violence erupted after Goodwill Zwethelini, South Africa’s Zulu king, reportedly called on immigrants to “take their bags and go back to where they came from.” Even as Zuma, a Zulu, condemned the attacks, he did not take the king to task; Zuma’s son, meanwhile, agreed that foreigners should leave.

South Africans should realize that these foreigners are there in part because of their own government’s policies. The ANC’s collusion in Robert Mugabe’s misrule and repression in Zimbabwe, for instance, has led to more Zimbabweans — who make up the overwhelming majority of foreigners in South Africa — applying for asylum.

Moreover, South Africa’s failure to prepare its citizens for the workplace has created an opening that foreigners have filled. For all Zimbabwe’s problems, its educational system has long outperformed that of its neighbor — one reason Zimbabweans have historically found economic opportunity next door.

The larger problem is that the ANC has pursued policies designed more to keep it in power than to empower ordinary South Africans. Sweetheart deals with the private sector to increase black representation have benefited a select few, creating what one recent study called a “cappuccino economy … white cream over a large black mass, with some chocolate sprinkled on top.” State-owned industries have been a nexus of mismanagement and conflicts of interest. Labor unions within the ANC coalition have secured expensive minimum-wage increases that have hurt employment, as well as the passage of laws and regulations that have made South Africa’s economy one of the hardest in which to hire and fire workers.

The way forward is for Zuma to expand the privatization plans in energy and elsewhere that fiscal circumstances have forced his administration to announce, to hold the line against government workers demanding wage increases of more than double the rate of inflation, and to pursue innovative policies that get more young South Africans working.

The biggest, most important challenge for Zuma is fixing South Africa’s educational system, which isn’t teaching the skills needed for the labor market and still suffers from the legacy of apartheid. One recent survey ranked its primary education system 133rdamong 144 nations.

Making such reforms will require South Africa’s leaders to put the interests of their country ahead of the interests of their party. If they fail to do so, South Africa’s citizens should focus their anger not on the immigrants in their midst, but at the politicians mismanaging their economy.

©2015 Bloomberg View

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A typical myopic view lip-glossed with a tinge of self evident truth.
For some reason, government and everyone else are to blame while Cinderela sits quietly at the back of the room without a reason to blame. Business becomes a critical role player in the economy and social system of the country only when its policies that suit or not, are in the fray and yes, it is always the victim.
That seems crazy in a normal world, but then, who said ours was a normal world. After all, if not badly infected by HiV Aids and therefore a high risk to investment, we are xenophobic, a high risk to investment!
Then throw in everything else in the mix, such as ‘poor education,’ a ‘wrong’ set of skills or ‘no’ skills at all and you have a fine messed up people who must take the blame for it. A normal world? Ours is never.

The biggest lie ever told to the black people of South Africa is that had it not been for Apartheid, they would have all been middle and upper class citizens owning a house with 2 cars parked in the drive way with access to water, electricity and television and everything else they could want. If there was any truth in this fallacy, then, why is
the rest of Africa not booming with prosperity since these states already became independent from 1960 onwards with Ghana being the first? Just take Liberia and Somalia as examples – two Africans countries which were never colonized. Currently Liberia is considered to be the 2nd poorest country in the world after the CAR. About 85% of the population lives below $1 a day and unemployment is estimated to be in excess of 80%.However, Africa as a continent is richly endowed with mineral resources, oil,
rubber, timber, water, forests, and a climate favourable to
agriculture.

“Jacob Zuma must convince ordinary South Africans that their long-deferred expectations for a better life will be met…” He cannot, even if he wanted to. The ANC has made these woolly promises for over 20 years and all it does is feed expectations that have a cat’s chance in hell of materialising.

No. South Africans should blame themselves. They have voted for the ANC 5 times, since democratization, giving them an almost open mandate. The ANC is an extension of the overwhelming majority of South African voters, not an entity separate from them.

I’ll set the cat among the pigeons………….the only resource which South Africa has a small supply of and the rest of Africa does not is white people with a protestant work ethic.

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