Are SA’s vandals not governing?

During lockdown – marked by business closures, job losses, pay cuts and cancelled investments – more than two million public servants have received their full salaries, on time.
Cyril Ramaphosa chairing the 2020 Cabinet Lekgotla at the presidential guest house in Pretoria on January 29. Image: Jairus Mmutle, GCIS

In his weekly ‘From the desk of the President’ letter on April 13, President Cyril Ramaphosa lamented the vandalism that had caused the demolition of schools, describing it as “a great indictment of our society”.

He pointed to the “despicable” implications: “When lockdown is lifted and learning resumes, thousands of our children will have no school to return to, depriving them of the right to education …”

There is irony in his words.

The president’s lament of four months ago on the damage done to schools, has been dwarfed into insignificance when compared with the destruction its lockdown strategy is inflicting on South Africans.

The magnitude of the destruction boggles the mind.

The government has, through it’s regulations:

  • Destroyed at least one in five salaried positions in the private sector. BankservAfrica data indicates that 20.7% fewer salaries and wages were processed in June compared with a year before (these people are not necessarily unemployed as yet; many have been furloughed);
  • Added at least two million of its citizens to the ranks of the unemployed since the start of lockdown;
  • Successfully scuttled private sector investment of at least R12.8 billion by Heineken, AB Inbev, Consol and Distell, thereby contributing to the deindustrialisation of the country;
  • Undermined profitability in the private sector by deciding which businesses are essential or non-essential, thus disrupting the free individual choice to buy and procure;
  • Shuttered the businesses of hundreds of thousands in the tourism, hospitality and personal services industries;
  • Acted like white ants, hollowing out large tracts of central business districts and shopping centres, leaving brittle thin façades and tearing the once solid intricate relationships of investors, tenants and the public to shreds; and
  • Magnified the problem of poverty on an unprecedented scale.

Estimates of the number of payments that have declined by salary category (June 2019 to June 2020)

Source: BankservAfrica and

It is tantamount to an anti-business campaign and the destruction of livelihoods that will probably be ranked with that of the infamous prophet Nongqawuse.

Apart from the drastic promotion of poverty, the strategy will also accelerate South Africa’s departure from the ranks of upper-middle income countries.

A feast for the well-connected

During lockdown, the more than 2.1 million public servants (all three spheres) have received their salaries on time and without even the suggestion of a cut. Many of them, we know, are still not in office.

And the funds diverted from normal budget lines to ensure the procurement of sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital equipment have resulted in an orgy for the well-connected.

The demolition of businesses, jobs, investments and the workings of free enterprise is a great indictment of our government.

It has grave implications.

To paraphrase the president’s words: “When lockdown is lifted and life resumes, millions will be poorer, out of jobs, having no businesses to return to, depriving them of their right to earn a living and a decent life.”

It is time, not to adjust some regulations, but to cease the lockdown forthwith.

The evidence that lockdown is not essential in combatting Covid-19 is everywhere to be read and assessed for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Likewise, evidence of the destruction of livelihoods through lockdown is available in abundance.

The question is whether the government, hell-bent on not admitting its strategic blunder, will pay attention. Or will it continue to act with the arrogance of a pharaoh?

Johannes Wessels is director of the Enterprise Observatory of SA (Eosa).

This article was first published on the Eosa website here.


Sort by:
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Top voted

You must be signed in and an Insider Gold subscriber to comment.


The large bags in the photo are telling. So are the broad smiles.

Thick as????????

They give a new dimension to the Mustering of the Three Musketeers (NDZ included)

“All for one and one for all”

as long as they can keep governing at any cost, continue looting unabated and destroying what was the powerhouse of Africa to their benefit, they are completely oblivious to the damaged caused.. and of course without a care in the world..

another commission appointed to investigate the Covid fund looting, more money thrown at the commission.

The result? Life carries on and the comrades never brought to book or prosecuted

Why? Because they all have dirt on each other

The smiles says it all

And I thought you were talking about Trump and the Republican Party

Big difference between Trump and an ANC comrade

Trump makes a noise, a comrade loots silently without uttering a word

David: ” Cyril what is this apartheid the people are talking about? ”
Cyril: ” Beats me brother…..look as us, blinkvet en gesond hahaha!”

Viva cANCer, viva………

This too shall pass. South Africa will be a strong country after COVID-19.

Something has to be broken for it to be fixed. The facade of the smooth regime change of 1994 is laid bare, for all to see and it was never going to be successful. South Africa to work needs to embrace all its citizens. Black and white in particular, need to realize that we need each other. After all we are the only country outside Europe (exept for USA) with the highest number of white citizens.

COVID-19 is the game changer. Black and white south africans show the world that it is possible to integrate,to live together and prosper as a diverse people. I challenge all sides, the left,the right and the centre. Let’s find a way. A new concept of Ubuntu should be our reinforced mantra… I THANK YOU.

Got nothing to do with race; this is about public service privilege..
Although grant it the public service is predominantly made up of one race in SA according to national demographics which in itself isn’t a problem. Attitude IS though!

“…After all we are the only country outside Europe (exept for USA) with the highest number of white citizens.”

Well I suppose we could ignore Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and on and on

Lockdown is the most serious infringement of property rights because it removes the rights of the individual to use his assets, knowledge, skills and time to exchange labour for food. Lockdown prevents free and unhindered use and application of property for the benefit of society as a whole. It criminalises the use of one’s property and punishes investments in property. The effect of this act of Central Planning and control of all spheres of society will manifest in the devaluation of property. Many entrepreneurs will lose their property as a result of this government intervention in the free market. It is tantamount to expropriation without compensation and the damage to the financial system will be as severe.

Lockdown measures are the most severe form of Central Planning, and as such, it is the opposite of freedom of choice and liberty. Lockdown measures can never form part of a market economy, to the contrary, it is typical of a collectivist, socialist or fascists system. History has taught us that all these collectivist systems end up as enormously costly failures where the damage is measured in the form of human lives lost. This unforgivable error in judgement will cause much more harm than the virus ever will. Lockdown should serve as a wakeup call to society to warn them about the serious design flaw in the way citizens interact with the political elite. If their political interaction leads to such a serious and devastating error, they should redesign the entire system if they want to survive as a modern economy. It seems as if nobody takes any responsibility for the eventual, unavoidable repercussions. Such a system is doomed to fail.

“A man who chooses between drinking a glass of milk and a glass of a solution of potassium cyanide does not choose between two beverages; he chooses between life and death. A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.” ― Ludwig von Mises

Gives a new meaning to the words: “Fat Cat Politician”.

Blink vet en gesond……doesn’t look if apartheid had any effect on them!

How many of the 2,1 million public servants who received full salaries on time are wanting to strike to get a salary INCREASE which they believe in their greedy minds is due to them? Despite all, they still demand the stipulations of the 3-year wage negotiation of 2018 must be honoured!

We are now two months down the line to get Executor letter from the Master’s office.

If a bakkie drives past their office with somebody whose cousin knows somebody that was exposed to somebody that sneezed a lot – the office closes for days.

Try phoning the Cape Town Master office…

There is NOTHING in the process of receiving and processing the specified forms that cannot be done remotely.

The Durban Masters Office has the same problem. No one replies to emails, no one answers the telephone. Sometimes there are people at work other days there are not. Cannot get see anyone in the office. Did receive post on the 16 August for a letter POSTED on 3 July!

Hang in there. I’ve been waiting for two YEARS and four months.

Essentially I have given up.


Somebody at the Master is a Moneyweb reader! Received executor letter today :). Thank you

It would be good to see see an investigative article on the activities of civil servants earning more than R1m p.a. during lockdown, addressing things like:
– What did they do to ensure the wellbeing of their staff?
– What did they do to safeguard assets under their control (maintenance)?
– How did they communicate with their clients and suppliers (skeleton call centre?)?
– Were they proactive in any way in ensuring that service continued to be provided, where legal?
– Were they proactive in any way in using the downtime to put in place procedures to prevent bottlenecks on re-opening, building capacity, training?
– Were staff unable to be used in their normal roles deployed to assist elsewhere?

Requiring the DGs and accounting officers to issue statements addressing these questions may be a useful start.

Not sure of the appropriate legal mechanism, but civil society should, in the interests of equity, request a solidarity tax to be paid by civil servants, with payments already made by such civil servants to NGOs, soup kitchens etc allowed as a credit.

And the reality is, the FEAST WILL CONTINUE (along with AA/BEE) until private (and public) retirement fund capital is depleted.

This will likely carry the spending/thieving Govt for another decade.

Thereafter ZAR money-printing, like Zim.


IMF (…but then no-one would really care, as most of us would be either in heaven or hell, or if alive abroad.)

Nothing out of the ordinary here…history of Africa post colonialism. SA is just having a very slow, protracted colonial exist (even for those bittereinders that stay, their investments emigrate), hence a slow returning to Africa, from a previous modern, industrialised outpost resembling a western society.

Not sure why the group is kept been called Civil Servants

It’s a rollover from colonialism days when they were civil and did actually serve the interests of society and citizens.

I have yet to see any “civil” society nowadays.

Spot on…

Let’s see how many entrepreneurs will be prepared to start up and invest in a business that could be closed down by power hungry central planning politicians (on full pay) at the first sign of the next virus to make its appearance.

The 2006 origins of the lockdown idea makes for interesting reading – ref:

Let’s hope policymakers who enforced the lockdown idea are voted out soon so that we never again need to deal with so much unnecessary destruction of our rights, freedoms and livelihoods.

“What you tolerate, will continue.”

Mhmmmm! Covid-19 Is the cure for Capitalism indeed! You can tell by the grumbles of the capitalists that indeed our government sought to strike a balance, by pushing for closure of all except key, strategic and critical institutions including the state institutions. Imagine if public works was completely closed who would have built the hospitals to be fully efficient for the outbreak that brought even the countries whose health systems into their knees, by the way compared to countries like Spain Italy France etc, how our country has fared in bringing health assistance to its citizens at this critical juncture? What was the role of public servants in that fight against Covid-19? Wessels, You didnt bother looking at that, even the Health Workers who died in the frontline of the battle helping people didn’t appeal to you. The answer is because the majority of them were Black Employees of Government. You are not grumbling because you care about workers that I know. It is greedy capitalism that only cares about the profits at the expense of people, workers particularly that is speaking within you.When the greedy private sector exploits and ill-treat workers in their pursuit of profit, you rarely if at all you do raise your voice. You cry now because you didn`t make profits, not that you care about the retrenched workers, as you would have started with them in protecting your ill-gotten wealth once the economy starts to be in trouble. Our Government, unlike you cares about its workers.

sthera, your racist spectacles are showing…,. Are you Jimmy Many in disguise, perhaps?

I like it, now you can feel it. When the Private sector retrenches the same Black workers you cant see any racism in that. The mere fact that the majority of the impoverished people are the black people, who are exploited and harassed by the privileged ones for profits.

Sthera, if zuma hadn’t stolen the trillions of rands maybe hospitals would have been in 100% better shape. Maybe if the current cabal hadn’t stolen the c19 aid maybe the frontline nurses, doctors and care providers wouldn’t have died also – or at a much less rate (btw it took people of all colour so please re calibrate your view). Now for the sad part which no one will tell you – a lot af African governments feels nothing for their voters. It’s survival of the strongest. Fat cat politicians with military behind them and a starving populace. Before hanging Johannes out to dry – maybe look elsewhere for answers.

Do you mean Zuma was there in France, Italy, USA Spain etc. ? Don`t shy away from the fact that it is mainly government employees who are in the frontline fighting Covid-19. They died fighting, those who are still alive need to be compensated for such effort just like the private sector does to its executives.

Looking for for the hardworking public servants. Mainly Black, deprived of their land. They won’t be deprived even of their hardwork by not being compensated. You don’t answer my question. As South African government how we have fared compared to developed countries in fighting Covid-19? Who was and still is in the frontline mainly, if not mainly Black public servants ? They why they can’t be compensated? Your obfuscation doesn’t answer these questions,it simply display your grumbling over what’s due to workers. Executives earn exorbitant bonuses year in year out and you keep quiet. In one year,if the economy takes the knock you jump and retrench workers. Our government has done well this time I repeat that.

Sthera -Spoken like a true trade unionist whose only looking for more money for less work. Do you normally take crack this early in the day

Looking for for the hardworking public servants. Mainly Black, deprived of their land. They won’t be deprived even of their hardwork by not being compensated. You don’t answer my question. As South African government how we have fared compared to developed countries in fighting Covid-19? Who was and still is in the frontline mainly, if not mainly Black public servants ? They why they can’t be compensated? Your obfuscation doesn’t answer these questions,it simply display your grumbling over what’s due to workers. Executives earn exorbitant bonuses year in year out and you keep quiet. In one year,if the economy takes the knock you jump and retrench workers. Our government has done well this time I repeat that.


Its hard to get past your racism and enthusiasm for ‘Black Employees of Government’ but I’ll give it a go…
In May, in a report delivered to President Cyril Ramaphosa by Pandemic Data and Analytics (Panda – a group of really clever people),they warned him that if South Africa’s economically restrictive lockdown measures were not discontinued immediately, they may cause 29 times more deaths than the measures aim to prevent.
Well, the warning was ignored, and an overly oppressive lockdown continued, criminalizing 300 000 people for various minor infringements and putting millions (not just capitalists) out of jobs.
By its deeds, the ANC has shown that it cares only about votes for the next election.
It cares as little for the people of this country as does that pesky little virus.
The (predominantly capitalist) South African taxpayer base is shrinking rapidly, and as such government is running out of money.
The estimates are that we will hit the wall in 3 years or so.
So tell me, having closed down the country’s economy and repeatedly chosen race over ability, how will this government actually pay for you and the workers it cares so much about in the years to come ?

Had such deaths occurred? Or it was an excuse to quickly return to the exploitative tactics to enrich the elite. There’s no report that they occurred, no report that easing of lockdown averted that. Covid-19 infections have eased as we have passed the peak. With rigid lockdown combined with hardworking health officials,we have rescued many people who would normally not have afforded to go to private health institution for help as they are extremely expensive. Public servants worked extremely hard to help fellow south africans. They have to be compensated as such.There has to be a clear distinction between government and private sector. One puts people first(including workers),the latter puts profits or money first for shareholders and executives at the expense of workers.

Ironically, the goverment department with the MOST critical role, after Health, didn’t just fail to open to the public as was promised by its minister, it kept providing contact phone numbers that didn’t work.
Can anyone guess which minister?
Social development and Sassa, of course.

As devastating as lock down is and remains and as highly suspect and questionable ‘our leaders’ behaviour is…

We must remember they are not doing this in isolation. They are able to act in this way, only because the rest of the world is complicit, in attempting to force this great socialist ‘green reset’ upon the world.

A year ago any single country behaving in this manner, would have been sanctioned out of existence. Australia and New Zealand are doing their best to copy N. Korea.

All public servants, everywhere are getting paid in full. In the UK most government departments are operating between 3% – 10% capacity even now. Rishi Sunak has provided temporary public servant status to 10.3 million ‘furloughed staff’. The damage in all countries is catastrophic. This will not end well – in the UK and i use this country because they have basically adopted the 150yr old communist manifesto in running their country and are/ were considered a bastion of western values and strength.

I would hazard as in SA, that at least 50-70% of furloughed staff will have no jobs to return to. We do not currently have that much civil unrest around the world (this is changing dramatically daily), as in effect governments have given their populace a pacifier. What do you think will happen when they receive their last government cheque and are out on the street.

In SA, the populace is not as lucky as the in the USA or UK, the EU etc. The SA government gave and gives nothing in exchange for lock down obedience. In SA i would hazard that patience is very close to non existent. Pasop!

Drop civil servants wages to half, they will leave the malls and go back to work.
If that doesn’t happen soon, there will be no tax money to pay any civil servant salary.

Noooooooo! KFC will go bankrupt in the bat of an eyelid


End of comments.




Instrument Details  

You do not have any portfolios, please create one here.
You do not have an alert portfolio, please create one here.

Follow us:

Search Articles:
Click a Company: