My former homeland, South Africa, is in a terrible mess. Der Spiegel recently ran an in-depth article looking at the state of the country, and didn't hold back. The original article is behind a paywall, but an unrestricted copy is available here.
On social media, the ANC power apparatus is now referred to as a kakistocracy, government by the least competent. This lack of competence has long since trickled down from the very top to the lowest administrative levels and ultimately encompassed the entire country. ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula even admitted recently that "if certain things are not resolved, we will become a failed state." He also added that South Africa was facing high levels of corruption. Neither he nor other senior ANC officials responded to repeated DER SPIEGEL requests for comment.
. . .
About half of sub-Saharan Africa’s total rail lines are in South Africa. But the trains no longer operate regularly, if they run at all.
Furthermore, in the fiscal year of 2021-2022, around 1,500 kilometers of copper cable was stolen, says Transnet, the state-owned company responsible for rail service in the country. Infrastructure theft has become a lucrative revenue stream for organized crime, and they don’t just target the high-voltage lines owned by the railway. In the townships, gangs dig down to the power cables and pull them out of the ground using pickup trucks. The power utility in Johannesburg registered more than 2,000 such cases and similar that same fiscal year alone. Copper wiring is even stolen from hospitals, likely destined for sale abroad.
South Africa now exports more copper than its mines produce.
Behind the walls along the tracks in Jeppestown, the imposing skyline of Johannesburg juts into the sky, a metropolis built on gold and a place where mining magnates used to live in vast palaces. Today, many parts of the city center look little different than a slum. Opulent Art Deco facades are crumbling while homeless people are living in abandoned offices and skyscrapers, cooking over open fires. Just last week, a massive fire consumed one of these illegally squatted buildings, killing more than 70 people.
Large sections of the city lie in complete darkness at night, the result of widespread power outages and because the streetlights on major arterials have all been stripped of anything of value. Hundreds of trains sit motionless outside the train station, rusting away. Rail travel in the city has collapsed.
Fears of crime and violence have grown widespread. Those who can afford it have moved out of the city to the affluent suburbs, living in houses surrounded by high walls and electric fences.
. . .
"9910. That was the train I used to take to work every day. The last one ran six years ago," an aging Black man says in disgust as he walks past the station entrance. He adds caustically: "We used to have work when the whites were in charge, and life was better."
It’s hard to believe: A 60-year-old Black man, who was oppressed and exploited for half his life, misses the Apartheid era?
There's much more at the link. Recommended reading.
Knowing all the areas described, I find it heartbreaking that a country with so much promise has fallen so far. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that apartheid, with all its evils, had to go. It was intrinsically evil - evil in and of itself - and despite being better organized than post-apartheid society, treated people as sub-human, things rather than individuals. On racial issues, it had a lot in common with Nazi ideology. I've written about its evils before, so I won't go into them again here. If you haven't read that earlier article, you might find it informative.
I know I'm going to hear all sorts of ill-informed and racist comments along the lines of "This is what happens when you let black people run the place". No, it's not. Consider:
- Venezuela in South America is as bad, if not worse. The same goes for parts of Mexico, Guatemala and other nations in the area.
- Asian hell-holes like Myanmar are the same.
- West Coast American states (yes, California, Oregon and Washington) have areas and cities that are just as bad in parts, if not worse. In fact, consider any "big blue" US city and you'll find areas with similar conditions.
That said, when I remember what South Africa was, and compare it to what it is now . . . it's still heartbreaking.