In 1990, bowing to American and world pressure, South African President F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress (anc) and, after 27 years, Nelson Mandela was released from prison—which he had been sentenced to for terrorist crimes.
The world looked with wonder at a man who emerged from a terrorist past speaking words of reconciliation and peace. In his election campaign in 1994, Mandela painted a vivid picture called the “New South Africa.”
In a pre-election speech in Manenberg in April 1994, Mandela told citizens that the community was in a crisis from neglect. He said there could be no peace where there was poverty, unemployment and armed gangs of youth with no hope of obtaining jobs; no peace where there was poor or inadequate housing, where the poorest were without jobs, food and housing. He said, “In order to have peace, we must have a better life for all. People must live in hope instead of fear. There must be jobs and security. … In order to have peace, immediate steps must be taken to deal with the violence that threatens your lives.”
Mandela went on to talk of the anc’s plan to ensure that his promises would be met. He announced, “Our greatest responsibility after the election will be to turn this suffering country into a prosperous, peaceful and democratic society in which there will be jobs, peace and security for all.”
His plan to reform the nation was multifaceted. Five billion rand a year would be spent on housing to stamp out corruption in the private sector and promote small business. A public works program would be enacted to build much-needed homes, schools, clinics and services. This alone would create 2.5 million jobs by 1999. A land-reform program was to be enacted to tackle rural poverty, land, hunger and unemployment.
The anc said, “We are already setting our economy on a growth path for the first time in 10 years.” And, “If we fail, we betray our mission and continue the damage apartheid has done to the whole region” (“Notes For Election Speech on Jobs,” April 1994, www.anc.org.za; emphasis mine throughout).
The “New South Africa” has just entered its 10th year and, like all the other post-colonial regimes in Africa, famous for far-reaching promises, South Africa is well on its way to rife corruption, a holocaust of crime, anarchy and failure.
Clearly, the anc has betrayed its mission.
Fallen Investment and HIV
Speaking of the 2.5 million jobs that were to spread new skills, create new homes, clinics and other buildings, the anc said, “With these jobs our people will no longer need to beg, borrow or steal” (ibid.). These jobs that were to assist in curbing the violence and crime have not materialized. In fact, since 1995, unemployment has nearly doubled, going from 16 to almost 30 percent (Cape Argus, Jan. 27).
Further hindering the economy has been a fall in direct foreign investment. One major contributing factor is the scourge of aids. An estimated 20 percent of the work force is infected with hiv (bbc News, July 3, 2002). “Aids is the single biggest factor affecting South African businesses and will remain so for the next decade,” said Andrew Sykes, chief executive of nmg-Levy consultants (ibid., Aug. 15, 2002). Large companies such as AngloGold have estimated that of their 40,000 workers, 30 percent are infected with hiv/aids.
Over the next decade, aids will devastate the South African work force. The nation has the highest number of hiv/aids cases in the world: about 4.7 million. One out of every nine South Africans has the disease.
This disastrous problem poses a very high risk for investors. So much so that Graham Terry, vice-president of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, said, “We need to give shareholders an idea of what impact the disease is having on their companies” (ibid., July 3, 2002). The head of aids research at the Metropolitan Life insurance company said, “If you’re investing your money, you want to know what a company is doing to manage that risk” (ibid.).
Lack of investment will further hamper the anc’s ability to create the massive amount of jobs it has promised over and over since 1994.
Foreign capital flight and lack of investment also stem from the astronomical crime rate of the “New South Africa.” A drive through the nation’s largest cities will readily make this apparent.
Across many South African cities, old and new properties alike are surrounded by walls trimmed with razor wire. Whole communities have closed off their entrance streets, fortified their outer walls and posted armed guards at their gated entrances. Inside, every individual property is equally well fortified. Most properties post signs that say intrusion will be met with armed response. One such community posted a sign outside that read, “Is there life after death? Come over this wall and find out!”
In a 1998 poll of 11,000 skilled or professional workers, 74 percent were considering leaving the country because of the enormous crime rate. In early 1999, to escape the crime, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange moved its location outside the city to the suburb Sandston, and other corporations moved their headquarters entirely out of the country to London (www.cnn.com).
Nearly 10 years have passed since Nelson Mandela promised to put a handle on crime in order to provide a “better life for all.” To this day, the government’s response seems to have been almost entirely empty promises.
The Home Affairs minister, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, warned the nation in January that drastic action was needed to reverse the nation’s trend toward anarchy. He told the nation they should face up to baby rapes, pervasive criminality and endemic lack of respect for the law. Buthelezi referred to two recent crimes as “evident symptoms of the climate of lawlessness, impunity and criminal arrogance which has turned all South Africans, irrespective of status, social position, race or creed, into actual or potential victims of crime.” He went on to say, “Crime is now rampant as ever and is fueled by the expectation of the impunity flowing from a judicial system which is just not performing” (South Africa Press Association, Jan. 22).
Last year, according to the Mirror, there were 58,000 reported rapes across South Africa—the rape capital of the world. This is made even more horrific by the shocking fact that 21,000 of that number were child rapes (Feb. 8). This grisly trend is being attributed in part to rapists attempting to avoid hiv/aids infection.
According to the child support group Childline, one in four girls faces the prospect of being raped before her 16th birthday; girls have a better chance of being raped than learning to read (bbc News, April 9, 2002). Statistics from the Child Protection Unit of the South African Police Service show that the number of child rapes in the “New South Africa” of 1998 were double those in 1994—just four years earlier! “The truth is that South Africa is in the grip of a baby rape epidemic. Barely a day passes without the reported rape of an infant under 1 year of age” (Mirror, op. cit.).
At the same time, the perpetrators of such crimes, increasingly, are children themselves. “In 2000, 43 percent of all cases of sexual assault reported to Childline nationally were committed by children under the age of 18,” according to Childline’s director, Joan van Niekerk (Africa News, Dec. 18, 2002).
To make things even worse, with the extremely high incidence of hiv/aids, a rape is often a death sentence.
The government is well aware of the problem. A recent parliamentary debate revealed that sexual violence against children has risen by a phenomenal 400 percent in the last decade (bbc News, April 9, 2002).
The November 2002 edition of SA Crime Quarterly stated that from March 2001 to March 2002, the police recorded about 840,000 violent crimes. The police and criminal justice system cannot deal with the sheer avalanche of crime. The chances of apprehension and prosecution are so slim that criminals act with impunity.
Unable to obtain justice, groups of black citizens have increasingly moved to enact their own mob justice. Criminals are apprehended by angry citizens who often beat, stone, whip and kill them. In one case, after severely beating two murderers, a group rolled a pickup truck over them and instructed the other community members to climb aboard and bounce the vehicle up and down.
In South Africa, violence begets violence!
For the anc elite, however, it seems Mr. Mandela’s dream has come true. The income of the richest 10 percent of blacks increased an average of 17 percent.
But for the vast majority who voted the anc into power based on the “better life for all” propaganda, things have gotten far worse. The poorest 40 percent of black households saw a 21 percent drop in income (Independent, Nov. 4, 2002).
This past year, the anc further frustrated the nation’s poor as President Thabo Mbeki purchased a $61 million dollar Boeing business jet. At the same time, Mbeki was telling the world his government could not afford to provide aids drugs for the epidemic sweeping his nation. One opposition spokesman stated, “The sheer vulgarity of the president’s new jet and what it represents is absolutely appalling. South Africa needs jobs, houses and a comprehensive hiv/aids program—this new jet serves only to illustrate the deepening rift between the anc elite and the South African people” (Guardian, London, Oct. 24, 2002).
The corruption of the anc has become so obvious to the nation’s citizenry that Mr. Mbeki had to acknowledge it during his speech at the opening of the 51st national conference of the African National Congress this past December. He publicly acknowledged and attacked careerists in the anc who used money to buy votes and used the media to camouflage corrupt practices. He denounced the organizational practices used to capture positions of power and the use of “lies and gross falsifications to advance immoral purposes” (Business Day, South Africa, Dec. 17, 2002).
Illogically, he then turned and explained his cronies’ current actions as being the result of “a legacy of the past … that encompassed a period of 300 years of white minority rule, during which the dominant groups pursued the personal accumulation of wealth”! (Times, Dec. 17, 2002).
Mbeki knows that the homeless, poor, jobless and hungry will not sit and remain blind and dumb to the anc’s corruption forever. In December 2002, “an opinion poll found that a majority of black people in South Africa believed that they had been better off under apartheid than they were now” (Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2002).
How long will it be before the population will come to collect on Mandela’s and Mbeki’s election promises? How long will the masses of South Africa wait till they receive the land, jobs, homes, telephone lines, running water and everything else Mandela promised? How long will the poor stand by and watch the anc elite line their pockets?
As disillusionment replaces discontent, where can the poor of South Africa turn? The population is finding out that the hope it was given less than a decade ago was a false hope. Where are the jobs, the housing, the food? Where is the security, the peace, the prosperity? The anc has indeed betrayed its proclaimed mission.
Clearly, the anc-dominated government can no more provide the answers to the country’s problems than the white-minority government before it could. The crime, corruption, inequality and other deep-seated problems identified in apartheid-era South Africa have only grown worse.
What Is the Answer?
The desperate situation in South Africa is aptly described by God through the Prophet Isaiah: “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths” (Isa. 59:7).
What is the solution? Will one of the liberation parties in South Africa provide the answers? If the people vote for a different political group, will anything change? Can the corruption be eradicated? “The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings …. [W]e wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness” (vv. 8-9).
Why? “For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us … [i]n transgressing and lying against the Lord, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood” (vv. 12-13).
Mankind does not have the answers. Experimentation with human government will continue to result in crime, corruption and inequality. There is only one government that can provide real answers. There is only one way of life that will produce peace, prosperity and equality. And that way is the way of God’s law. “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression …” (v. 20; see Isa. 9:6-7; 32:17).
At this time our greatest responsibility is to turn individually to God in repentance so He can rule us. Soon Jesus Christ will return, establish God’s government and—to borrow a few words from Nelson Mandela—provide a prosperous, peaceful society in which there will be jobs, peace, security and a better life for all.