The elections are on the 8th of May, the ANC is failing to provide electricity, the DA is engaging in near constant infighting, and the EFF are saying that they will somehow bar businesses from being able to retrench people.
In other words, all three major political parties are doing their best to lose, by playing to type in a way that makes their weaknesses both glaring and clear.
We’re in the mess we’re in, because of the ANC. Right at the dawn of our democracy the ANC were opposed to two things, higher taxes and higher borrowing.
But they had a task ahead of them, they needed to rapidly expand service delivery, which they actually managed in a lot of cases. Electrification in 1994 was probably at just over 50%, and I say probably because the Nationalist Government didn’t keep good track of how much in the way of services it was delivering.
Eskom now claims it is over 90%.
This was done while there was an exodus of experienced people from our civil services, and taxes were being cut, and our debt to GDP ratio is 53%, which is not bad. To put that into context, America’s debt to GDP is 105.4%.
Not only that, but our civil servants are pretty well paid, in 2018 they even won above inflation increases according to ENCA.
So we’re not really in a debt crisis, we’ve not taxed as heavily as in the past, and we’ve expanded service delivery while paying civil servants more – where did the money for this expansion come from?
Well what happened straight after 1994? We saw a mass exodus of experienced civil servants. We had cost cutting, and when you get cost cutting, the two things that get cut first are maintenance and internal controls.
What are our two biggest concerns right now? Corruption – which is the natural result of weakening internal controls; and service delivery – which the natural result of poor maintenance.
BusinessLIVE in 2018 reported that for four years, Eskom had slashed its maintenance budget, now we have load shedding. That’s just one part of our government, and similar problems arise across the whole thing.
This you would think would be great for the opposition. They can point out how the ANC has systematically failed, that it isn’t just a matter of a few bad apples or even a bad barrel, its something that cuts to the core of how the ANC has governed.
It isn’t just the fruit, it isn’t even just the tree, it is the orchard.
The thing is winning the elections is only step one. Any political party that won these coming elections, would inherit all of these problems, and the nature of these problems is that you cannot easily quantify them.
Take the fact that our civil service is at once bloated, while lacking core competencies – we’ve ten people doing one person’s job, and five jobs going un-done.
We don’t know who the one person doing that one person’s job is, and we don’t know what all five of those jobs that are empty really are, so how can any political party come into office and correct that problem?
It is going to take time, and it is going to take money, and we don’t know how much of each.
With maintenance it is a similar problem, less maintenance means less inspections so we end up with a situation like Johannesburg, where years of neglect continued into the DA’s regime, because you can’t instantly figure out everything that needs to be done.
So when load shedding hits – substations pop, and what should have been four hours of power supply issues becomes three days.
The thing is we cannot allow the opposition to chicken out the way it has been doing. The ruling party’s management is just untenable so we need change.
But we also need to bear in mind how we got into this mess, so that we don’t end up here again.