IT IS NO longer a question of IF but WHEN Zuma goes. The President has spent his political credibility, frittered away Polokwane, and presided over an economic fiasco entirely of his own making.
The faults of Zuma’s administration are so numerous, one needs hours merely to wade through the analysis of the ineptitude and wrong-headed politicking which has dogged his time in the Presidency. Zuma must make way for better, more equipped leadership. If ever there was a reason for deposing the man at the head of the country’s political system, the events of the past days, demonstrate what is at stake.
In the space of a week, South Africa has gone through three finance ministers. The losses are staggering. The entire market cap of the JSE fell R169.6bn from R11.35 trillion to R11.18 trillion (1.49%), while the Rand bounced from a low north of R16.30/$ to R15.11/$, as markets reacted to what appear to be a volta-face in economic policy.
At one point, Zuma was suggesting that he could command the economy by introducing a Marxist labour value system. As writer Rian Malan put it:
“Well, yes. The East Germans once priced their copper according to this Marxist formula, concluding that the labour value of socialist copper was 18 times higher than the world price as determined by the capitalist law of supply and demand. And then struggled to understand why nobody wanted to buy their copper. Hopefully Zuma will be more successful at amending the laws of nature.”
It really does seems as if we have two factions in government, the commandeerists and centralists who believe the economy is there to do their bidding, in particular the bidding of the party, and the realists and federalists who understand that markets are by their nature, fickle and based upon economic laws.
Laws such as supply and aggregate demand, retail and consumer confidence, balancing the books and fiscus, budgeting and living within our means. Markets require predictable policies, i.e. stable banking and financial markets, in order to maintain liquidity and create jobs while driving opportunity.
The shock reappointment of Pravin Gordhan will go some way to stabilising the situation, but for how long?
The problem, as so many commandeerists who constantly rail against the bugbear of “neoliberalism” fail to see it, isn’t double-column accounting. If I were against the dominant Maths, I would not spend my life becoming a spokesperson for an Anti-Algebra movement, I would rather seek out a new arithmetic.
Instead, as we see under Zuma and the far-left opposition, we now have a trend towards outright ‘denial-of-reality’, an increasingly belligerent regime, which believes that it can escape the numbers, via pure ideology and propaganda alone. One that is then driven into a sudden flipflop, since its policies are really no policy at all.
This is exactly what lead to the undoing of the Soviet Union. One of the largest Empires of modern times, it covered 15.31% of the Earth’s land mass (compared to British Empire at 22.6%).
South Africa risks breaking up under the Castroism of Jacob Zuma and the Maoist rhetoric of far-left opposition leader Julius Malema, we may very well devolve into distinct and separate entities as centralisation fails and the federal guarantees enshrined by our constitution kick-in, and with the stubborn refusal of the commandeerists to accept anything less than a “socialist” (read communist), state, that operates on ideology alone.
Painting such criticism as the work of “white supremacists” merely confirms the problem — there is no such thing as a ‘black economy’ or a ‘white economy’ as such. The numbers in themselves, do not discriminate, and attempting to view important issues such as wealth distribution and economic inequality, in purely racial terms, disguises the deep structural problems of a resource-based economy that desperately needs the world to recognise its emergence as a financial hub, one that has to provide for social services accessible by all citizens, irrespective of race.