About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Paradigm Shift? Post-Mandela South Africa

Fall 1998
4 November


The obvious starting point is when, after the elections mandated to take place next year, President Mandela steps down and Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki becomes President Mbeki.

Perhaps to set the tone, I should begin with a quote from a recent column written by one of South Africa's most prominent political commentators, Kaiser Nyatsumba. He entitled his column "No repeat of our glorious 1994."

He wrote:

Many will take memories of those special days to their graves. There they were, on April 27 and 28 1994, maids standing with their madams, labourers standing with their masters, all eager to cast a vote in our democratic national elections.

Those were probably the most cathartic days in the history of this country.

South Africa is again facing an election in a matter of months.

Although we will not be a typically "normal" country for a few more years, our politics have nevertheless begun to lose their "special' image. There may well be many in politics today who believe they are there to serve the nation, but by and large many others are there to make a living. To them, politics is an occupation like any other, and some will lie and cheat to remain in office to reap the benefits of being in parliaments or government."1

And a second observation: Albie Sachs: "We were able to achieve a miracle, but we can't achieve the achievable."

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its final report at the end of October, it was damned by all political parties.2 Its full repercussions are only beginning to sink in. Truth, it did reveal; but it is an incomplete truth. Justice remains very much in the balance. Reconciliation is a far cry. Ironically, the ANC's attempt to block publication of the report has diverted attention from its more serious findings concerning the modus operandi of apartheid itself, and its unequivocal emphasis on the culpability of successive National Party governments and its all too-willing surrogates in every sector of South African society.

For Mandela, the responses the report elicited, especially from the ANC must have been especially. He devoted the better part of his Presidency to trying to bring about reconciliation between blacks and whites, often to the point where he was criticized by some blacks for paying more attention to ameliorating the fears of whites than with ameliorating the inequities blacks had suffered.

But President Mandela wanted to put in place the foundation stones for a nation, not to settle scores or seek retribution. The TRC has not brought about reconciliation in the here and now. Reconciliation is a process, not an instantaneous epiphany. It is not a once-over, an ending to something, a closing of the books. Rather, it is the beginning of something new, the opening of a new book that can only grow out of a process that begins with catharsis, engenders anger, invites recrimination, leads to reflection, genuflects to the need for acknowledgment, provides the road map for the way to healing, again a painful exploration, and reconciliation, again not a final closing of the wounds, but a mutual tendering to each other's wounds.

When he retires from office sometime next year, Mandela will leave a South Africa full of contradictions, with enormous social and political challenges to overcome, a South Africa still in the process of transformation, a South Africa not yet out of the woods, not yet one in which democracy has fully taken root, although the vine is ripening.

If one were to finger the greatest failure of the Mandela years, it would perhaps come down to something very simple: The ANC simply underestimated the task it faced, indeed, the nature and dimensions of the task itself and was unable to deliver on the promises it had made to the people. And it learned, too, that the learning curve is steep. As a result many blacks became disappointed with the government, and in time that disappointment turned to some disillusionment. According to recent surveys, this is not going to result in African voters voting for another party. There is in effect no other party, although the ANC may lose some support to the UDM. Voters will express their disillusionment by staying at home, resulting in a lower voter turnout. The drop in voter turn out will be the significant indicator of black's dissatisfaction with government, not the percentage of the vote the ANC receives.


However, even though it enjoyed an overwhelming majority in parliament, it was super-sensitive to criticism, seeing it as racially motivated, and a thinly-veiled insinuation that blacks weren't simply up to the task of governing. This hyper sensitivity in turn bred hubris – a propensity to dismiss all criticism, justified or not, an axiomatic response that everything that went wrong was somehow linked to the "legacy of apartheid."

Indeed, so convincing did this morally unanswerable response become for every failure that the government succumbed to its own propaganda. In such circumstances there was no need for accountability. The ANC merely trotted out the "apartheid mantra," told the opposition to go stuff it.

Because parliament was so firmly under the thumb of the ANC, government was immune from criticism from ANC MPs.

There are, of course, free-spirited and open debate, and an-going clash of personalities; indeed some of the most policy-directed exchanges come from ANC portfolio committees where ANC members frequently cross each other ANC and express whatever opinions they want to, but there is no faulting of the ANC. Never hand ammunition to the apartheid opposition. The fact that all members of the opposition have abandoned any form of apartheid, and have been advocates on its behalf in the new government is irrelevant.

If ANC members find fault with government actions, they must channel their criticisms through party structures – and behind closed doors. Public criticism is equated with "behavior bringing the party into disrepute" and the critic is subject to "disciplinary measures."

Although not by any measure a one-party state, South Africa is, and will remain for the foreseeable future a one-party democracy. Nor is this necessarily a bad thing during a period of transition where the government is called on to engineer fundamental and radical reform at all levels of society in order to undo the apartheid arrangements, attitudes, structures, and social/ public/cultural hierarchies that permeated the country's fabric.

But whatever disillusionment black may feel it never extends to Mandela himself. He is above reproach. Even in matters that properly fall within his domain, if things don't work out the way blacks expect them to, they will be critical of the government, but never of Mandela. Blacks make a very clear distinction between Mandela and the government. Whites do not. Indeed, it often seems they go to the opposite extreme: everything that is found wanting in government – and among whites the litany is almost endless – they will put at the doorstep of Mandela.

Though revered abroad, whites – perhaps more accurately, older whites -- have never warmed to Mandela. They may respect him, have a grudging admiration for the way in which he has destigmatized South Africa in the international arena; they may take pride, perhaps, in the acclaim with which he is received in other countries to the degree that the acclaim reflects favorably on South Africa; they may even have grown fond of him as he edges toward retirement, but there is nothing about him that would impel them to refer to him as Madiba, or even affectionately as the "Old Man."

And for all his efforts to assuage their fears, to assure them that their remaining in South Africa was crucial to the country's future, that they too were as African as their black country brethren, they responded to his courting with wariness. The day he querulously disparaged the increasing number of whites emigrating as not being real South Africans willing to stand their ground, as being "on the chicken run," and echoed Mbeki's "good riddance, " they felt that he had dropped the facade, and that for once, he was revealing his true feelings –and by extension the true feelings of blacks – towards whites. Which, if one considers that their most consuming fear a few years earlier had been that once blacks "took over" they would turn on whites and treat them in the same way whites had treated blacks for decades, might be regarded as a giant leap forward.


Mandela is the country's founding icon, the embodiment of all that is noble in the human spirit, a leader who never forgot where he came from – a prison. He gives black people a profound sense of pride, something they had never experienced; he imbues them with a dignity that allows them to rise above the often miserable conditions under which they live; he freed them from the oppression they had imposed upon themselves – the oppression of self-imposed victimhood, the excuse for refusing to empower oneself. Every nation that emerges out of the vicissitudes of historical forces, often impersonal and accompanied by conflict and carnage, needs some one person to embody what that struggle for an elusiveness called freedom was about, people need a personal embodiment of what the sacrifices were for, especially when the benefits of freedom are themselves both elusive and often illusionary.

You must, therefore, make a distinction between the performance of Mandela, as president of South Africa and the performance of the ANC-led government.


Mbeki must step into the shoes of a man whose shoes are to big to fill, and Mbeki himself would be among the first to admit this. Greatness is an intangible: impossible to define, impossible not to recognize.

Four questions arise:

Ø. What is the Mandela legacy?

Ø. What is the state of the nation Mbeki will inherit?

Ø. What state is the psyche of the country in?

Ø. What must Mbeki do to address the manifold problems the country faces, not all of which are of its own making, and not all of which can be dealt with by the actions of a sovereign nation when globalization has curtailed freedom of unilateral action on the part of sovereign nations, and more important its efficacy; when sovereign nations, especially the smaller and less powerful ones, are in many respects, spectators at rather than participants in the global chess game?

And finally, what context must be used to evaluate South Africa's successes or failures in the future?

Beginning with the last question:

The exogenous constraints:

War: The State of the Continent and the Impact on South Africa

Disease: The Spread of AIDS in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa

Globalization: the Global Economy and Africa; South Africa and the Global Economy

Debt: The Legacy of Profligacy

The indigenous constraints:




Changing voter intentions

Analytical tools:

Emile Durkeim's concept of anomie

Isaih Berlin's two concepts of freedom

Robert Putnam's theory that the successful evolution of civic traditions is what makes democracy work

Majority/Minority dichotomies in divided societies

Race: the legacy of apartheid3

Democracy and Constitutionalism: The limits to change in a democratic society


War: The State of the Continent and the Impact on South Africa

In March 1998, Time magazine boldly entitled its cover story "Africa Rising." It proclaimed with the kind of grand benediction magazines of its ilk and influence inspire that "after decades of famine and war, life is finally looking up for many Africans"4 The years ushering in the millennium were to be Africa's years, when its promise, for so long captive to the "aberrations of a host of African tyrants, endless coups, looting of national coffers for the enrichment of the few at the expense of the untold suffering of the millions, internecine strife, corruption and nepotism"5 would finally come to fruition and transmogrify its immense potential into concrete achievement.

But an African-American writer, Keith Richburg, who had traversed the continent, a year earlier, in search of his identity as an Afro-American was so devastated by what he saw and heard that he wrote, in sorrow and anger, as if he had been betrayed that:

I am an American, but a black man, a descendant of slaves brought from Africa...

If things had been different, I might have been one of them [Africans]-- or might have met some... anonymous fate in one of the countless ongoing civil wars or tribal clashes on this brutal continent. And so I thank God my ancestor survived [the] voyage [to slavery].

Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I'll throw it back into your face, and then I'll rub your nose in the images of the rotting flesh [of the victims of the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda].

Sorry, but I've been there. I've had an AK-47 rammed up my nose, I've talked to machete-wielding Hutu militiamen with the blood of their latest victims splattered across their T-shirts. I've seen a cholera epidemic in Zaire, a famine in Somalia, a civil war in Liberia. I've seen cities bombed to near rubble, and other cities reduced to rubble, because their leaders let them rot and decay while they spirited away billions of dollars -- yes, billions -- into overseas bank accounts ... Thank God my ancestor got out, because, now, I am not one of them.6 Within months of President Clinton's visit, the political landscape of Africa had changed utterly. The continent was once again wallowing in the kind of conflict that has bedevilled it for decades. In the past year, one of four countries in Africa were engaged in conflicts,7 as were eight of the fourteen SADC members.8 Half the world-wide deaths from conflict occurred in Africa9: the continent was embroiled in old conflicts, once thought settled, and new conflicts, once thought implausible. Warfare ranged from Angola and Sudan to Ethiopia and the Congo. From Lome to Luanda, from Kinshasa to Kigali, war had broken out. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had collapsed under the new dictatorship of Laurent Kabila. In addition, Lesotho, Angola, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, and Sudan were in various states of implosion; Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Chad and Sudan had dispatched troops to assist Kabila from being deposed; Uganda and Rwanda backed the Tutsi-led rebellion against Kabila; Nigeria headed the ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau tethered on the brink of collapse; Congo-Brazaville smouldered with discontent, while Liberia, and Somali could hardly be called havens of stability. In Algeria war raged without restraint, savagery sanctified in the name of religion. Sudan's long civil war was no more amenable to settlement, despite the fact that its major casualties were the emaciated children used by combatants on both sides as human bargaining chips. What had once been unthinkable -- southern secession -- would have a direct impact on Egypt's access to the Nile, and thus Egypt was being ineluctably drawn into the outer perimeters of the conflict, not engaged, but not as disengaged as it heretofore had been. In Sierra Leone rebels merrily mutilated civilians, and fought ECOMOG forces which were under the direction of Nigeria. Nigeria, having dispatched of Gen. Abacha was once again promising an end to military rule and an eventual return to democracy – the emphasis should be on the word "eventual."

"The wind blowing from Europe has begun to sweep Africa," the late Francois Mitterand grandly gushed in 1990.10 But the wind dropped to a sparse-like breeze, and finally to a whisper, breathing the awful calm of the suffocation of life.

Pillage, rape, murder, wholesale carnage, massacres of women and children, slaughter of the innocent, genocide, obliteration of villages and towns, destruction of infrastructure built at great, and invariably foreign-donor cost ion the hope of opening the way to development, famine, and unending stream of refugees seeking safe haven in countries increasingly hostile to their presence and increasingly unable to meet their needs -- of the 22.4 million people displaced world wide, 7.4 million were in Africa -- were the foundations on which the new Africa of the 21st century would be built -- the legacy of Africa of the 20th century.11

"What will it take for Africa to reject military solutions to political challenges," asked Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations during the Security Council's second ministerial meeting on Africa in September. "When will the realization that no one -- not a single one-of these conflicts can end in the absence of compromise, tolerance, and the peaceful resolution of disputes." With armaments' exporters, including South Africa's, queuing up in increasing numbers to ply their trade in the newest, most sophisticated, and deadliest of weaponry, the answer to Annan's question is as simplistically rhetorical as the question itself.

Months later, Annan again addressed the question when he addressed the second Tokyo Conference on African Development: "Chronically insecure neighborhoods," he said, "are not ones that attract investment."

Unfortunately for South Africa, it found itself in the center of a "chronically insecure neighbourhood," and the fact that so many of SADC's member countries were either directly or indirectly invilved in internal conflict, or in a fellow member's internal conflict, or in someone else's internal conflict ensured that potential foreign investors viewed the region as a whole as unstable, and with little prospect of stability in sight – a fact that became more evident when SADC members could not agree among themselves to a united course of action with regard to the Congo.

The conference sounded a warning note that like the cry of "Wolf!" will be ignored until its reality impinges on the well-being of the developed countries: "Poverty in Africa has become even more serious," it concluded, and, "if the present situation continues, the growing disparity [between the rich and poor] will become a major cause of worldwide social disorder." To halve the number of people living in poverty in Africa by the year 2015 – a goal the conferees set themselves -- African countries will have to achieve a real annual growth in GDP of more than 5 % per cent.

In his analysis of the African condition at a conference on the African Renaissance, Eskom chairman Reuel Khosa was far less restrained. "Africa," he charged, "is a pathalogically diseased, drug-addicted, malnourished patient." "Nothing," he warned delegates, 'will be sufficient to rehabilitate Africa unless it unconditionally acknowledges its problems, develops a sufficient understanding of its problems, and expresses a desire and unwavering will to solve them." In the absence of such a rigorous process of self-examination, the unquestioned belief that the proliferation of institutional structures would in itself be sufficient to rehabilitate the continent was wishful thinking. Most of Africa's problems, he stressed were of Africa's own making. "It does not benefit us to externalize the causes of our problems. We are a sick continent and we are largely to blame for it."12 War, famine, incompetence, corruption, crime, and a generally declining quality of life were the prevailing conditions in Africa.

Africa's politics, Khosa said, were permeated by group rights, rather than individual rights, which resulted in ethnic or ideological schisms. Africa also suffered a victim mentality and its concept of wealth was closer to a feudal economy than it was to an industrial economy. A stage had been reached where black in general and African in particular were synonymous with failure and inferiority: "We have learnt and our children continue to learn, that there is nothing to admire or emulate in Africa."13

Not many were listening.

In the mid 1990s, Thabo Mbeki, then Deputy President of South Africa, spoke eloquently of an African 'renaissance,' of the need for Africa itself to weed out and dispense with its home-grown tyrants, for a post-colonial order free of dictatorship, corruption, nepotism, and dispute resolution through armed conflict. US President Bill Clinton, in one of his more hyper cheer-leading moments, feted the democraticization of Africa as he jet-hopped from Cape Town to Kampala, from Dar es Salaam to Dakar during his "historic" trip to Africa in April 1998. Peace and prosperity, he prophetically intoned, were at hand; the canons of democracy were replacing the cannons of artillery.The events of 1998 in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere in Southern and Central Africa were a salutary reminder of how fragile emerging democracies in the continent were; how tentative and unpredictable transitions to the rule of law, how politics were driven by domestic considerations of national self-interest rather than by the amorphous altruism of global alignments. When the superpowers withdrew their support at the end of the Cold War for the regimes that were proxies for their interests, regional powers hastened to carve the continent into zones of self-serving hegemonies. In the Congo, the government, which had "overthrown" the corrupt dictatorship of Mobuto Seso Seko in May 1997 came to power , not at the vanguard of an indigenous uprising but on the coattails of the Rwandan army, Within 15 months it had to rely on the military intervention of a Zimbabwean-led coalition that included Angola and Namibia to keep the equally corrupt dictatorship of its president, Laurent Kabila, in power. The rebels, a Tutsi-led coalition backed by ethnic Tutsis from the DRC -- former supporters of both Mobotu and Kabila ( the enemy of my enemy is my friend), enlisted the support of Rwanda and Uganda, while Sudan supported rebels active against the Ugandan government, and finally send 2,000 troops to the Congo, bolstering their presence with contingents of rebel Ugandans ensconced in government -held territory in southern Sudan and in bases in eastern DRC.14 Later Sudanese troops would be joined by troops from Chad, while Kabila would accuse Burundi of coming to the aid of Rwanda and Uganda.15 Botswana, Mozambique and Ethiopia choose a vicarious courses of non-intervention, ultimately adopting the South African position that there should be a cease-fire on all sides -- a proposition acceptable to the rebels and therefore an anathema to Kabila -- followed by a negotiated settlement and a government of national unity. A South African solution for a non-South African conflict. The non-DRC countries participating in the conflict were, of course, involved, not because of any altruistic motive to help a fellow head of state stave-off marauding hordes of invaders bent on massacring the native population, but merely to protect their own national self interests. Rwanda wanted Kabul to tighten his grip, as if he had any, on the DRC.'s eastern borders and to stop Hutu extremists from making incursions into Rwanda, murdering Tutsis, and then retreating to the sanctuary of the Congo, and it wanted Kabila to protect the Banyamulenge, a small Tutsi ethnic group of Rwandan descent who had settled in the Congo some decades ago. Uganda wanted Kabila to expel the Sudanese-backed rebels who were running an insurgency in northern Uganda. Angola wanted Kabila to cut off supply routes for UNITA. Zimbabwe had invested heavily in Kabila's "new" Congo – some estimates came close to $200 million – and intervened to protect its investments, especially since many had been made with Kabila's son acting as middleman.16 Namibia had close security and political relationships with both Angola and Zimbabwe. Hence, their national concerns were their raison d'être for their intervention on either the side of Kabila or against him. When it became clear that Kabila was either unable or unwilling to deliver on anyone's expectations, those who had opened the way for his drive to power were just as quick to embark on a drive to remove him from power, especially Rwanda, after Kabila's call for all foreign troops – in this case the Rwandan army which had been primarily instrumental in his successful efforts to topple Mobutu – to leave the Congo. Rwanda promptly switched sides and threw its support to the indigenous insurgents, the former supporters of Kabila who grew disillusioned with the nepotism he practised with oblivious disregard for what the public thought, for the corruption he engaged in, as if to outdo the kleptrocracy of his predecessor, the tribalism he encouraged, and the grandiose autocratic rule which was his idea of good government.Instead of reform and the promise of elections, Kabila cavalierly banned political parties and jailed his political opponents. Thus the rebel movement, which called itself the Congolese Democratic Coalition and was spearheaded by many of the troops who had once fought for Kabila, now sought to put an end to what they saw as an emerging dictatorship that would be as repressive, and perhaps more repressive than the 37 year dictatorship that had preceded him. In 18 months, Kabila succeeded in alienating all opposition parties and the Rwandan and Ugandan allies who had brought him to power. He dismissed his domestic supporters from key positions in his administration and replaced them with relatives and friends from Katanga. "A not very reliable man; a man without a vision," was Che Guerva's verdict on Kabila. Guerva had come to the Congo in the 1960s to assist in the struggle for its independence. He left, disillusioned and embittered with Kabila and "revolutionaries" of his likes. But even the best can err; when Mobuto succumbed to Kabila's forces and Kabila and baptised Zaire with the name the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), President Nelson Mandela was among the first to bless his administration, assuring him of South Africa's full backing.

Firepower brought Kabila to power, and without the continued assistance of his new-found allies, firepower may well oust him. And furthermore, rebel forces that capture a country and take over its government rarely deliver democracy to the people who support them.17Efforts by the SADC and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to broker a settlement came to naught, and even the redoubtable Kofi Annan was unable to provide the combatants with sufficient grounds for coming together. Kabila insisted that there would be no cease-fire until the "foreign invaders" had departed DRC soil (by some strange logic, "foreign" did not include Zimbabwe and Namibia), he refused to recognize the indigenous component of the insurrection, and vowed that nothing short of total victory would satisfy him. Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, long an arch-rival of South Africa's Nelson Mandela as the region's major power-broker and beset at home by mounting difficulties, tried to use the crisis to trump Mandela. Whatever the outcome, the Sunday Independent opined that "Despite South Africa's painstaking efforts not to be seen as the regional or continental bully, it seems that Mugabe has successfully exploited regional perceptions that we [South Africa] remain more of an American surrogate with imperialist tendencies than a fully-fledged member of the African continent." "We [South Africa]," it continued are falling between two stools in our efforts to play a bridging role between the developed and developing worlds, on the one hand, and that of an honest and effective broker in African conflicts on the other." "What is clear," it concluded "is that an African revival is not going to come without immense pain and conflict."18Mugabe's bid for recognition as the sub-Sahara's pre-eminent power came at a steep, indeed, prohibitive cost. The deployment of Zwimbabwean troops in the Congo cost Zimbabwe $30 million a day,19 a catastrophic cost for a country already strapped by lack of foreign reserves, unheeding of the World Bank's call for reform, not yet feeling the full brunt of Russia's financial collapse, unresponsive to demands for liberalization, and with a population that would turn on Mugabe himself were it not for the omnipresence of his security apparatus. Continuing to militarily prop-up Kabila could only speed-up Mugabe's own departure from the Zimbabwean political scene, a scenario once appreciated that would, one would think, hasten his resolve to declare victory and get out.

But in the end Mugabe's own ambitions, fuelled by the allies' initial success in stopping the rebels from capturing Kinshasa and driving them east and the endorsement of SADC for the intervention, led him mistakenly to believe that he had the rebels on the run, that they did indeed lack indigenous support, and would be easy prey to finish off. Instead, the rebels regrouped in their bases in the east, and after they began a second drive westwards, taking the strategically all important city of Kindu with its all important air base giving the rebels the capacity to fly in supplies and giving them the capacity to mount air-strikes into the heart of Katanga, Kabila's heartland, the allies met in Harare, and rather than lose face , or perhaps rather than putting Kabila in a situation where he would have to lose face by acknowledging that the rebellion against him was being mounted in considerable measure by domestic opposition, made the fateful decision to commit more troops and prepare for a long and costly war against the rebels in the dense eastern jungles of the country.

"We will not allow the Democratic Republic of Congo to fall into the hands of those who invaded it," Mugabe thundered in Harare, "Never. Never."20 The rebels could not have hoped for more. Drawing the allied forces, spearheaded by Zimbabwe, into terrain they were unfamiliar with, had no combat experience in, with seasonal rains imminent, and low cloud cover and tropical rainfall to ensure the allies' advantage in air power would be severely reduced if not altogether curtailed, was a recipe for incipient disaster for Kabila and his supporters.21

Within SADC differences were papered over, although the paper's transparency could not conceal the differences. If appearances were what mattered, then SADC would happily give the appearance of solidarity. In a statement, after a SADC summit in Mauritius, SADC issued a statement which said that "The summit reaffirmed its call for an immediate cessation to hostilities and commended the governments of Namibia, Angola, and Zimbabwe for the timeliness of their providing troops to assist the government and the people of Congo to defeat the illegal attempts by rebels and their allies to capture Kinshasa…"22 Meanwhile, Kabila kept to the line he had tenaciously adhered to from the beginning: there were no rebels in Congo; the war was a result of foreign invasion.23

The SADC statement, to which South Africa put its imprimatur, may have unfortunate repercussions, since it commits SADC members to a precedent whose consequences were not thought through, especially on the South African side: other SADC dictators can count on the blind solidarity of member countries to prop them up, no matter what the people's demands to hang the bastards from the rafters. But it did underline one conclusion on SADC's part: development in the Southern African region was mere talking shop matter unless stability was brought to the region, and stability took precedence over the color of a government's ideology. And if stability depended on propping-up a government that was less than enthusiastic predilection for democracy, then democracy would have to be put on the back-burner. In the Congo it appears that nothing can hold the country together, and that whatever the outcome, the DRC looks set to break up, partitioned from north to south along ethnic and battle lines.24In Africa, in order for emerging democracies to survive, they have to face the acid test of being able to stand on their own without the artificial props well-meaning and sometimes self-serving benefactors erect to hold them up; they must be capable of withstanding the cycles of violence that periodically sweep the continent and develop the internal resilience that allows them to weather the vagaries of a capricious world where national self-interest in the context of a global market is the commanding imperative. "Previous attempts to resolve African conflicts," wrote Mondli Makhanya in the Star, "have foolishly assumed a certain level of maturity of leadership. But the fact we have to face is that Africa's political elite is composed mainly of power-mongering kleptomaniacs who couldn't give a damn about the well-being of their populations." Permanent solutions to Africa's problems, he concluded, "will require greater intervention in the affairs of sovereign nations than the international community thus far has been willing to undertake."25

A meeting, attended by foreign and defence ministers from 19 eastern and southern African countries, convened in Lusaka in October, but broke down in bitter recriminations. Both sides appeared locked in a seemingly intractable stalemate. Kabila and his allies continued to demand the withdrawal of Rwandan and Ugandan from the country; eastern rebels continued to insist that they would not lay down arms until they were granted face-to-face talks with the DRC government. The DRC' foreign minister, Jean Charles Okoto, accused Uganda and Rwanda of pursuing a "hidden agenda" to crush ethnic Hutus, in pursuit of

Tutsi supremacy throughout the Great Lakes region.26

For the most part, the outside world ignored the Great Lakes conflict, adhering to the dubious, if not entirely fictitious, position that since the Africans were responsible for the mess, it should be left to Africans to clean it up. Moreover, African wars were not seen as "war" in the western sense but more of a perpetuation of pre-modern tribal conflicts now fought with post-modern weaponry. Africans, prevailing beliefs concurred, had a less than special regard for human life, a penchant for massacring each other at the most trivial of slights, an innate inability to govern except in the most tyrannical or at best dictatorial ways, a passivity that encouraged a pathological obsequiousness in the face of the despotic, an abhorrence of the work ethic, a distaste for social discipline, and an intolerance of political difference. In short, Africa was a continent on the periphery of the global stage, too unstable to be taken seriously, too impoverished to be worth the investment that might realize its promise, and if not quite beyond redemption, at least beyond caring aboutThe war in the Congo had nothing to do with popular demands for democracy -- the masses had not taken to the streets calling for Kabila's head. Most Congolese, it appeared, were quite happy to accept Kabila's kleptrocracy, as long as it kept within bounds -- rulers, after all, were expected to steal --and after the rapacious kleptocracy of Mobutu, any replacement had to be an improvement, and certainly difficult to exceed. There was no human rights' culture -- small elitist opposition called for free elections, and democratic governance. But its credentials were questionable in many regards. However, in the human rights' culture any voice that decries the abuse of rights and the tyranny of authoritarianism is embraced by democracy advocates, no matter what its motives.Interestingly, or perhaps dismayingly, it was not until Kabila played the ethnic card -- the presence of Tutees in their midst, although most Tutsis were indigenous Congolese, or at least Congolese to the extent that some 230 different ethnic groupings can claim to be -- that he was able to mobilize the people on his behalf, at least in the western part of the country, and incitements to hatred, vengeance, and murder elicited a far more positive response from the citizenry than exhortations of would-be reformers for an end to corruption, the release of opposition leaders, and the holding of elections.If one could draw any conclusions from the convulsions of the inter-regional conflict, the most pertinent would be that calls for elections in countries that are patently not ready for them can hamper rather than hasten the advent of democracy. A second conclusion might well be that attempts to "impose" supposedly " free and fair" elections" in countries in which the concept of elections has no meaning, in which democracy itself is alien, in which there are no institutions of civil society, or no civil society to speak of, to develop a culture conducive to the principles of democracy and its emphasis on the primacy of human rights -- although the abuse of human rights is not uncommon in many countries that believe they are democracies -- in which poverty is endemic, illiteracy pervasive, and norms of individual rights theoretical abstractions suggest a ingenuousness that pampers first-world elitism, encourages delusion, and most probably impairs the cause of democracy itself. The best one can hope for in these countries is a long transition towards democracy, undertaken in incremental steps in line with each country's specific economic, social, cultural and political characteristics, its capacity for development, and its sense of autonomous identity.

Disease: The Spread of AIDS in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa

The relentless spread of AIDS throughout the sub-Sahara is threatening the existence of the continent and its people. The problem is almost unimaginable in scale, beyond relief in the suffering it has wrought, and, apparently of little concern to the rest of the world – one more African problem among the innumerable Africa problems that appear to grow exponentially and prove immune to inoculation against resolution. The fact that in some countries in the region up to 32 per cent of the populations are HIV positive evokes little emotion and no response.

A full-blown AIDS epidemic is beginning to wreak havoc in South Africa, which, according to the most recent United Nations' report, enjoyed the egregious distinction of having the fastest growing number of people with AIDS in the world, and the second highest number of HIV-infected people in Africa.27 In South Africa, the disease is increasing exponentially -- 40 per cent of adult patients and 30 per cent of paediatric patients in government hospitals suffer from HIV related diseases.28 Country-wide, some 3 million people are HIV positive with an estimated 1,500 new infections daily. Overall, the number of people who are infected with the disease rose from 1 million in 1993 to 3 million in 1997.29 Among adolescents under the age of 16, the rate is estimated at 13 per cent, rising to 20 per cent in the 20-24 age cohort. The 15-25 age group accounts for 60 per cent of new infections. Among school pupils, some 250.000 have the virus, and between 30,000 and 40,000 teachers are similarly infected.30. About 150,000 of the country's one million civil servants, that is 15 per cent or one in seven, are HIV positive, and the immediate cost to the government in terms of employee benefits, absenteeism, productivity, provision of health care, and recruitment and training costs is beginning to put the fiscus under enormous strain, while the cost to the economy as a whole in these same terms is incalculable, and would also include increasing levels of family dependency, and huge financial outlays relating to funeral and burial rites, a much reduced tax base, and consequently tax revenues, depleting at all levels the human and financial resources necessary for providing basic services and eliminating the socio/economic inequities in the country without which black empowerment will become one more buzz word in the lexicon of catch-phrases. Nor do these figures take into account the number of "AIDS orphans," and the cost of their being cared for. In ZwaZulu/Natal alone, estimates put the number at 100,000 cases. This figure for that province alone is expected to rise to 250,000 by the year 2000, and to one million by 2005.31HIV/AIDS is the second most common cause of death among pregnant women, accounting for 18 per cent of deaths.Kwa- Zulu/Natal has the highest incidence of the disease, showing an increase from 20 per cent in 1996 to 27 per cent in 1997. The rate of infection in Mpumalanga is 23 per cent, in the Free State 20 per cent, in Gauteng 17 per cent, in the North West 18 per cent, in the Eastern Cape 13 per cent, in the Northern Cape 9 per cent, and in the Western Cape 6 per cent.

A survey carried out by the Department of Health found that there had been a fourteenfold increase in HIV prevalence in South Africa in six years. One in 10 adults is living with AIDS.32 Indeed, the gravity of the crisis and the devastating impact it will have on society can be gleaned from the frightening fact that unless the spread of the virus is brought under some measure of control, and the resources allocated to the control of the disease and campaigns to increase public awareness of it at all strata of society, it could see South Africa implode, ravaged by the disease to a point where the social and economic viability of the country itself becomes a question, not of concern but of fact. Why this alarmist picture of the future? Because, the average life expectancy of a South African in 1998 is 56 for a person who otherwise had an even chance of living to 65.33 If present trends continue unchecked, the average life expectancy in South Africa will drop from 60 years of age in 1998 to 40 years in 2010,34 undermining not only all the health advances made over the years in terms of life expectancy, mortality rates of infants, children and women, bringing economic growth to a stand still, making development unsustainable, investment in human resource development a waste, the prospects of foreign investment highly improbable, skewing the use of the country's resources to cope with the breath of the disease and its consequences, and unravelling the social and community infrastructure of the country.

Over 1,500 people are infected with AIDS in South Africa every day out of a world-wide estimated level of 7,000 daily infections, meaning that South Africa currently accounts for one fifth of all infections.

By the year 2010 more than 1, 500 people will be dying from AIDS every day, reducing the population growth to zero. At least 650,000 people will die of AIDS-related diseases from 2010 onwards.35

According to the South Africa Revenue Service, up to 35 per cent of South Africa's adults may die of AIDS in the next decade.

According to AIDS experts, combating tuberculosis (TB) is probably the most cost-effective way to prolong the lives of HIV infected South Africans. TB is a major public health problem in its own right, killing an estimated 1,0000 a month, and causing 86,000 cases of illness a month. Moreover, it is also the dominant opportunistic infection affecting people with AIDS and the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa. TB also often sets in during the early stages of HIV infection and hasten dramatically the onset of full-blown AIDS.Without intervention, Southern Africa's HIV epidemic will run a predictable course, cutting 10 to 15 years off life expectancy compared to 15 ago, [ what does this translate into in terms of today's, or say 1990 life expectancy rates?] Rates of active TB will soar as a result of the exponential growth of HIV infection. Already two out of three South Africans are infected with TB, and an estimated 50,000 new cases of AIDS occur every month. The proportion of new cases of people with TB who have HIV as well is 50 per cent or higher. Most of these people develop TB as a result of their having AIDS. There is a deadly symbiosis: HIV increases susceptibility to TB; TB in turn compresses the time-span between the onset of HIV and its transmutation into AIDS. Hence, treating TB is, according to health officials, the single most effective palliative they can manage to prolong the lives of people with HIV. It is, they say, affordable and it works. One estimate suggests that giving people with HIV preventive therapy in the form of a six month course of the drug isoniazid, decreases the risk of developing TB by two-thirds, and hence slows the passage from HIV to AIDS. The problem, as always, are who will identify patients and who will supervise treatment.One of the most formidable problems health officials face is denial. Again, health officials point out that while HIV and AIDS afflict 50 per cent of the people, about 50 per cent are still in denial – but they see some hope on the horizon in the beginnings of public acceptance that there is a problem and they are starting to ask for the information that might help them.36 Of increasing concern to public health officials in Kwa Zulu/ Natal, however, as the disease exacts an increasing toll – 27 per cent of women attending prenatal clinics are HIV positive -- is the claim of traditional healers that they have the cure for AIDS. Thousands of people with AIDS are flocking to traditional healers for a "miracle" cure, in the belief that western medicine has failed them from inevitable death. Besides the insistence of traditional healers that their cures "work," there is a second and perhaps more determining reason for people who carry the disease to turn to traditional medicine for relief. It is affordable, unlike many of the expensive, and apparently ineffective medications that western medicine prescribes.

( Among the multiple problems facing health-workers in the field is having to dispel ignorance about the disease that leads desperate people resorting in panic to the folk-wisdom of mythological cures that invariably emerge in disasters of this nature – or the resort of people to any suggested "cure" when conventional treatments fail or when faced with the knowledge that their condition is terminal. Since HIV is only transmitted through sexual contact, its "mysterious" onset and the rapidity with which it spreads once it has taken hold in a particular area, reducing one vibrant communities to enclaves of disease and death, the word-of-mouth hearsay of miracle" healings spread, almost contagiously, and with second hand accounts of their effectiveness. One of the more disturbing "cures" that is making the rounds in South Africa is that if AIDS carriers that sexual intercourse with a young virgin they will be cured. This is a matter of the most urgent concern to health officials. Although there is no hard evidence that belief in this myth is related to the very high incidence of child-rape, investigators are trying not to leave anything to chance.

Even more alarming are the findings of a global survey which found that one out of four South Africans admitted to not being concerned about contracting or spreading HIV/AIDS, despite an increasing awareness of the disease across all age groups. Adding to the urgency with which the problem must be addressed are the additional findings that knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases is almost non-existent – 7 per cent of respondents had never heard of herpes and 27 per cent expressed no concern about being infected.37

Not that the catastrophe in the making is South Africa's alone. According to the UN world population survey for 1998, AIDS has achieved pandemic proportions in 34 countries, 29 of which are Sub-Saharan countries, where at least one in four people is HIV infected.

In Botswana life expectancy has dropped from 61 years in 1993 to 47 in 1998, and is expected to drop to 41 between 2000 and 2005. In Zimbabwe, one of every five adults is infected. The high mortality rate has significantly cut the country's population and its growth, from 3.3 per cent a year between 1980 and 1985 to 1.4 per cent in 1998, and a projection of less than 1 per cent beginning in 2000. Had it not been for the virus, Zimbabwe's population would be growing at a projected rate of 2.4 per cent. Current projections suggest that both Botswana and Zimbabwe will loose up to one-fifth of their populations within the next decade.38

The UN reports that "of the 30 million persons in the world currently infected by HIV, 26 million, or 86 per cent, reside in these 34 countries. In addition, 91 per cent of all AIDS in the world have occurred in these 34 countries."39

Without AIDS, the population of Zimbabwe could have been expected to grow by 2.5 per cent this year. Instead it will grow 1.1 per cent. In Botswana, the projected population growth rate would have been 2.4 per cent. With AIDS it will be 1.1 per cent.

For Namibia, the population growth rate is 1.1 per cent instead of 2.4 per cent. For Malawi 1.7 per cent instead of 2.7 per cent. For Zambia, 2.1 per cent instead of 3.3 per cent.

And looking at death rates: Without AIDS, there would have been 7.8 deaths per 1,000 people in South Africa. Instead it is 12.3 per cent. In Zimbabwe, the rate without AIDS would have 6.2 deaths per 1,000 people. Instead it is 20.1.

And as the virus spreads, the demographic composition of these countries is rapidly changing, with unforeseen and hence unprovided for consequences at all levels of society. Sustainable development in these circumstances is simply a misnomer. The unwillingness of international or national development agencies to admit to this – not that there is any malign intention behind their failure to do so, only bureaucratic compartmentalization, or for development agencies to work hand-in-hand with health agencies in highly coordinated joint ventures means that continuing to direct resources into programs and projects that do not take into account the inevitable impact of AIDS on the projected outcomes is little short of being willfully irresponsible or woefully inept.

Adding to the tissue of problems is the fact that national governments in these countries usually understate the level of HIV infection due to unreliable and inaccurate reporting of the disease, an unwillingness to do because it may interfere with tourism, the fear of being labeled a pariah nation, or because of national pride, wanting at all costs, to avoid the stigma of being rubber-stamped as AIDS-infested, a country to be avoided as if it were plague-ridden, which in a sense it is.The developed countries must also their share of the blame for the virus's deadly march through the continent, especially in the poorer countries. Once the disease did not progressively decimate their populations, confining itself the gay and drug-addicted segments of the community, and with medical protocols emerging that added years to the incubation of HIV and the onset of full-blown AIDS, and between the onset of full-blown AIDS and death, and perhaps most important when the strains of the virus that developed in the West turned out to have very low rates of heterosexual transmission, the West having put its own house in some kind of order shelved the issue and aid to developing countries in dire need of aid.

As in most things, when a disaster only impinges in a marginal way on the West, or having impinged is brought under an acceptable level of control, it ceases to command "flavor of the month " status, is expunged from the collective mind, and to that extent ceases to exist, except in some dim subliminal awareness, although wreaking its ravages on the destitute nations to whose existence they were blind.40

"For too long we have closed our eyes as a nation, Deputy President Thabo Mbeki said on 9 October '98 at the Declaration of Partnership Against AIDS, "hoping the truth was not so real. For many years, we have allowed the HIV virus to spread, and at a rate in our country which is one of the fastest in the world" ( in his admission of official neglect, he might have been more honest and said at a rate that is the fastest in the world). "By allowing it to spread, we face the danger that half of our youth will not reach adulthood. Their education will be wasted. The economy will shrink. There will be a large number of sick people whom the healthy will not be able to maintain. Our dreams as a people will be shattered."41

His remarks, poignant as they were, offered little in the way of what government might do. The best he could come up with was an appeal to young people "to abstain from sex for as long as possible," and, if they chose not to do or were unable to exercise a puritanical control over their natural inclinations, to use a condom.

What to do in a country where every need is a priority? Should the government reallocate half the resources it devotes to education to a massive AIDS prevention campaign, since in 10 years it is highly likely that up to half of the young people who were the beneficiaries of those resources will be dead ?

Globalization: the Global Economy and Africa; South Africa and the Global Economy

The debacle in the Congo and the unravelling of Central and Southern Africa coincided with the unravelling of the global economy. First, collapse of financial markets in Japan engulfed all of emerging Asia, and the economies once heralded as the "Asian Tigers" -- the economies the rest of the developing world were told to emulate -- South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia followed suit in domino-like fashion. The anachronisms of "crony" capitalism were suddenly discovered, although they had been there to see all along, vision blurred not by myopia but by rapacious greed spurred by what seemed to be the endless prospects of quick profits and fast bucks. South Africa, the most sophisticated emerging market in Africa, priding itself on a first world-stock exchange and financial service institutions it believed could hold their own with the best, was sucked into the raging vortex. When Russia found itself in the position of more or less having to declare itself bankrupt, its coffers empty, banks penurious, foreign reserves a pittance, and political uncertainty aggravating the financial crisis and finally overtaking it with the implosion of the country's weak political infrastructure, global economic meltdown became the catch-phrase for global recession. Always vulnerable to market forces and the shenanigans of wily speculators, South Africa's struggle to reintegrate itself into the world economy with the demise of apartheid, collided with global capital run amok: under pressure, the rand depreciated in value several times, leap-frogging the six rand to the dollar benchmark, almost halving its value in six years. In one week, the JSE lost 17 per cent of its value. The price of gold fell to its lowest level in 19 years.42 Growth projections for 1997 were in the region of 0.5 per cent. Some 40 per cent of world GDP was in recession, with more to follow.43Africa in general, with its debt-burden, non-existent reserves of hard currencies, and its fledgling emerging markets in particular, was vulnerable to the reverberations of what seemed to be an impending economic meltdown. South Africa had already contracted the 'contagion' disease, although not yet terminally infected. Nevertheless, the disease had taken its toll. At the beginning of October, industrial shares had fallen 45 per cent in five months (from April to September 1998), the rand 45 per cent since the beginning of the year, and interest rates 45 per cent since June.44 The exodus of foreign capital continued with a doggedness that resisted every effort to curtail it – the dumping of bonds wiped out all the net foreign investment in the market, and by September, net disinvestment had reached $I billion,45 causing a shortage of liquidity in the financial markets,. Business confidence, not unexpectedly fell, but the drop to a twelve year low indicated a level of uncertainty not even surpassed during the most tense days leading up to the elections in 1994 when for one brief moment it seemed that the negotiated settlement would fall apart and the country would be engulfed in a vortex of violence.46The Reserve Bank responded in the manner it was accustomed to: it raised interest rates, and commercial banks in turn raised their rates from 24 per cent to 25.5. Mortgage rates followed suit increasing from 22 per cent to 23.5 per cent, although rates were already at untenable levels, and the new South Africa, on whose fortunes so many of its impoverished citizens had pinned their hopes, as if God compensates for godliness, began to stumble into recession. Unemployment, which even in the "best" of times was decreasing as companies "downsized" in an attempt to make themselves more competitive in the mean terrain of the global market, became endemic, the first world sector shuddered under the strains of a greatly devalued stock market, growth stalled, looked into the abyss, and finally, almost pliantly stepped in; per capita income which had been falling in the latter years of apartheid began to fall again, its impact this time being even more remorselessly felt by blacks, and this time there was no noble cause to cushion the suffering. The myth that only apartheid stood in the way of some miraculous economic turnabout was shattered. South Africans, to their surprise, found that they were no longer special.

"Global capitalism is under siege," Newsweek intoned. "The idea was to open markets to trade and foreign investment. Last week [the first week of September] markets were being shut. Malaysia imposed exchange controls, preventing investors from reclaiming funds. Earlier Russia had defaulted on some foreign debt and stopped converting roubles into hard currency. And then there's Hong Kong's stock-market intervention. Although it doesn't evict foreign capital, the abrupt change of rules could frighten away investors."

Weeks later, there were few investors, and all were frightened.

What went wrong?

The orthodox explanation:

On one level (writes Newsweek), the answer is simple. Countries became overdependent on foreign capital, which, having entered in huge amounts, is trying to leave the same way. In 1996, South Korea received $42 billion of inflows: a year later, outflows totalled $21 billion. What initially triggered the reversal was the recognition that much foreign money had been squandered through "crony capitalism" or misguided industrial policies. Asia was dotted with empty office buildings and surplus factories. Overseas banks refused to renew their loans; mutual fund investors sold shares and converted their funds back into dollars.

But now the fear of capital flight is feeding on itself – and spreading to Latin America. If people fear the Mexican peso will be devalued, they may convert pesos into dollars. The frightened include locals, not just foreign investors. But countries need hard currencies to pay for their imports; and they can't afford a depositor run on their banks. High interest rates are one way to halt the process by rewarding people for keeping their funds in local currencies. Hong Kong's short-term interest rates have risen to about 15 per cent, Mexico's to 36 per cent. The trouble, of course, is that punitive interest rates also crush local economies.

If a few economies face the squeeze, it's their problem; if many economies do, it's everyone's problem. This is happening . The threat of capital flight has shoved so many countries toward austerity that it induced a world-world slump. And, again the process feeds on itself. Feeble economic growth has depressed the prices of raw-material exports. Between June 1997 and August 1998, oil prices dropped about 30 per cent ( affecting Russia, Mexico, and Venezuela, among others); coffee prices fell 43 per cent ( affecting Brazil and Columbia); and gold prices sank 17 per cent (Russia, South Africa). Earning less abroad, these economies must slow their economies to cut imports. This depresses U.S. exports and the profits of multinational companies operating in these countries.

Thus, does the Third World's distress threaten the First World's stock markets and prosperity. But global capitalism's failure demands a deeper explanation. After all, capitalism, is supposed to excel at allocating investment funds efficiently. In this case, it didn't. The deeper explanation is that market capitalism is not just an economic system. It is also a set of cultural values that emphasises the virtue of competition, the legitimacy of profit, and the value of freedom. These values are not universally shared. Other countries have organized economic systems around different values and politics.

As a result, spreading capitalism is not simply an exercise in economic engineering. It is an assault on other nations' culture and politics that almost guarantees a collision.. Even when some countries adopt some of the trappings of capitalism, they not embrace the basic values that make the system work This is what happened. Led by the U.S., global agencies ( the World trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund) sought to persuade poorer countries to become more open to trade and global capital. These countries tried to maximise the benefits of the process while minimizing changes to their politics and commerce. [ My ital.]

Mutual deception flourished. Countries like Korea and Russia pretended that they had. American, European, and Japanese bankers, executives and government officials pretended the claims were true – or might become true. Loans were made on the basis of incomplete or faulty statements. Or they were made on the faith that, if a loan went sour, someone (the government, the IMF) would cover the losses.

Global capitalism has become a dangerous hybrid. On the one hand, investors committed huge sums and expected high returns. On the other, the money often went – through bank loans, bond issues and stock offerings – to borrowers who were not operating according to the strict rules of efficiency or profit and loss. "Crony" capitalism often meant corruption: contracts won with bribes; favoritism for the well-connected. In 1997, a group called Transparency International ranked corruption in 52 countries as judged by global executives and country specialists. Not surprisingly, Russia ranked fourth, Indonesia seventh and Thailand 14th.

But capital flowed freely, and self-deception prevailed. Banks collected interest on loans. " Emerging market " mutual funds rose, because local stocks were buoyed by new investment money. While everyone enjoyed profits, there was a suspension of belief. Now comes the reckoning. Capital flight has forced most developing countries to conserve scarce foreign exchange.

Countries cannot expand their economies unless they replenish their foreign exchange reserves of hard currencies.47

And the conclusion?

Even if the worst doesn't occur, the world will never be the same. Global capitalism won't regain its aura of infallibility. There was nothing wrong with the theory. Free trade and the free movement of capital, would, in a world where everyone worshipped efficiency and profits, enrich all nations. The trouble, however, is that we do not live in such a world.48

Nor, it would appear do we live in the created by the IMF where structural adjustment programs were the panacea for every economic woe. The IMF, rather than seeing the conditions it attached to loans as being overly stringent, unconcerned with even basic social safety nets, and unduly punitive to the one segment of society least responsible for the mess a particular country may have gotten itself into, chose instead to see its sometimes arbitrary deficit to GDP ratios as instruments of judicious financial prudence. Short term pain for long term gain, only sometimes the short term became a moving chimera – almost always within reach, but never reached.

But the IMF itself came under increasing scrutiny as 1998 wore on. In the year since the start of the Asian crisis in September 1997, the IMF dispersed $120 billion in international bale-outs. One year later, all the countries it had attempted to rescue from the financial holes they had dug themselves into with such careless abandon were in worse shape. IMF prescriptions, or other IMF conditions for loans, had only exacerbated the economic woes of the countries in question. Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, and Russia, rather than being out of intensive care, were still struggling to survive on IMF respirators that were themselves experiencing severe power outages. After its massive dispersion of funds, the IMF had less than $10 billion on hand to contain future contingencies, and found itself going cap in hand to tap a line of credit to the tune of $24 billion from the ultimate lender of last resort, a faceless entity operating under the suitably anonymous nomenclature General Arrangement to Borrow (GAB).In terms of policy, the organization, once the oracle before which African countries in particular, bowed in trepidation was becoming the focus for some severe criticism. To prescribe tight monetary policy for any one country which leads to higher interest rates, cuts in government expenditure and a reduction in consumer demand might be the correct "treatment" for the ailing patient, but when every patient swallows the same economic medicine at the same time, the result is a collective collapse: deflation angina, and unless an antidote is quickly found a world-wide slowdown further hardens the global economy's arteries and recession precedes the funeral procession to the graveyard for dead economies.Moreover, there is an increasingly invoked view that an IMF bale-out does little for the poor and the underclass's in the stricken country, but is of most assistance to the first world creditor banks and currency speculators whose self-serving actions are often responsible for the country's dire predicament in the first place. According to this analysis, as long as first-world banks and investors can count on an IMF bale-out to countries that go into an economic free-fall, they have a safety parachute that enables them to make risky loans and investments without having to worry about the consequences of their financial transactions going wrong, and the countries who can rely on the IMF as the lender of last resort have little incentive to reform their often crony-oriented banking systems and address the corruption that corrodes their economies.

There were of course other options: drop interest rates, for without a steep drop in rates, economic growth and job creation will remain mirages on a distant horizon, optical illusions on the perimeters of space. The more per capita income drops, the greater the loss of confidence in a shrinking economy, and the more it shrinks, the more rapid the net capital outflow until, in obedience to the rules of an unregulated and unfeeling market, the outflow finally breaks through the cracks in the financial dykes and becomes a flood, carrying whatever is left of the market in the deluge that follows.

Exaggerated perhaps. But not if the developed countries do not recognize the gravity of the situation in emerging markets, which they will probably do only when the contagion infects their own economies.A drop in interest rates, no market intervention to "rescue" the rand -- and if policy makers haven't already wised-up to the fact that there is nothing they can do to "save" the rand, then they haven't yet grasped one of the fundamental rules of the global game: you control what's within your capacity to control; what you cannot control you leave to the fates of the gods – or in this case to the vagaries of the market. Once you start tailoring your responses to the volatility of short term capital flows, you've surrendered your economy to the whims of impersonal forces driven by the so-called psychology of the market, a metaphysical rationalization for the irrational.

Some years ago, Francis Fukuyama was argued in The End of History and the Last Man 49 that with the collapse of communism and the triumph of capitalism, the battle for "ideas" was over, and that in that sense we had arrived at the cul de sac of history itself – a millennium of peace and prosperity was at hand with the emergence of pan-global liberal capitalistic democracy.50 The fact that such a preposterous hypothesis could be even taken seriously, never mind it being the subject of countless conferences, seminars, workshops and reams of befuddling gibberish, is perhaps as good an indicator as any, that the more we know, the less we learn, and that the predicament we now face is as much a result of our consummate hubris as the unpredictability of the future.

Until recently, the collective wisdom assured us that free-market capitalism had finally routed all other forms of economic organization. But with the Asian economies somersaulting from boom to bust, and the financial equivalent of AIDS – appropriately named "contagion" – infecting one economy after another, inducing the collapse of financial markets in domino-like fashion as the system imploded under the weight of its inherent contradictions –does the emperor ever have clothes? -- the triumph of free-market capitalism was called into question. History, it seemed, had not quite done with itself.

Traditional remedies have proved unavailing51, leading one of the world's more eminent advocates of free markets, economist Paul Krugman, to publicly address the vexed question of the emperor's clothes. Should we, he asked, given the seriousness of the current crisis, not temporarily "scupper" reliance on the market?52 Traditional economic nostrums simply haven't worked, he argues. If an afflicted country raises interest rates and taxes to protect its currency, economic growth comes to a grinding halt, and even fundamentally sound companies are brought to ruin. If, instead a country caught in the vortex of a downward spiral keeps interest rates low and lets its currency collapse, it will trigger capital flight and inflation. What Krugman suggests is heresy to free-marketeers: "[The only way out] is a solution so stigmatized," he writes, not with the conviction of a convert but with the resigned doggedness of one who must follow his own conclusions to their logical end, "that hardly anyone has dared suggest it."53 The unsayable words are 'exchange controls'."54 Globalisation we were told, and the onward march of the free market, guided by the mysterious, perhaps even divine wisdom of the Invisible Hand, had made nation-states virtually irrelevant, and as we all queued up to apply for our visas to enter this new global village, where the pastures were greener, the land more fertile, and there was room for all to flourish. All this is, as recent events so vividly illustrate, an extension of the end-of -history hype, erroneous, subversive in the sense of lulling us into a sense of post-modern insouciance, the lethargy of the Lotus-eaters. The world waited with apprehensive anticipation to see how Alan Greenspan, chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Bank, would act. Which in itself is a sufficient commentary on who is the ultimate arbiter of what's good for the world, never mind individual countries, of who should suffer the consequences of the fallout of decisions made by rapacious speculators, opportunistic financial institutions, and countries who have become old-hands at manipulating the IMF and their likes -- borrowing heavily puts the onus for repayment , not on the borrower but on the lender. For the threat of large-scale default with the "contagion" it spreads, is the best weapon borrowers have for further assistance to preclude economic meltdown; a form of blackmail, where the continued viability of an interdependent world economy and the instantaneous dissemination of information makes the strong beholden to the weak, or those with the "street smarts" to know how to exploit the strong. Even in the United States, unchallenged in its role as the global economy's financial policemen, Greenspan's decisions will reflect US interests -- in this case how best to balance the country's vulnerability to deflation in markets that are of most concern to it, that are destinations for its exports against the risks of inflation at home that would result from increasing the money supply hereby triggering a reduction in interest rates. It is universally agreed -- as if universal agreement on anything these days counted for much in a world in which the capacity to produce instantaneous information on any issue at any point far outweighs the capacity of its recipients to assimilate it -- that the concomitant domino effects that would follow a reduction in US interest rates would save many countries from their current free-falls into recession. Why then should South Africa leave its economic fate in the hands of one person, or for that matter, the unelected Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank which makes its decisions on rates reduction on the basis of what's best for the United States, not on the basis of what is best for South Africa, on the basis of how deflation in many parts of the world would impinge on American interests and possible exposure to the deflation virus, on the basis of what's good for America is good for the rest of the world, the latter an indicator of the hubris of a country which has had to suffer the least, and whose response to addressing the increasing disparities in world inequities is to cut the relatively small percentage of its GDP it contributes in aid to distressed nations struggling to emerge from centuries of oppression and exploitation at the hands of their now would-be tutors.Adherence to the American/IMF dogma on markets not will make South Africa a more attractive place for American fixed capital investment – that hope has long been consigned to the cyber bin of other dreams, although still secretly harbored in some quarters – and Uriah Heep-type responses to what amount to edicts emanating from Washington, will do nothing to advance the South African cause. South Africa, if the African Renaissance it so passionately espouses is ever to become little more than one more pipe-dream conceived in wishful thinking and promulgated55 with ardor rather than conviction, must assert an independence commensurate with its potential, not wait, cap in hand, for The Word to be handed down from the Washington Oracle. Indeed, if we were all part of that mythical global village, who it should be asked, appointed the headman, or was it a matter of the biggest boy being the bully on the block.

( Former national security advisor Zbigniew Brezinski refers to America's allies and friends as "vassals and tributaries," and argues the case for a grand geostrategy that would " prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, keep the tributaries pliant and protected, and keep the barbarians from coming together."56 And David Rothkopf, a former senior member of the Clinton administration, in a burst of moral fervor and patriotic humility was moved to write that "Americans should not deny the fact that of all the nations in the world, theirs is the most just and the best model for the future." 57 The proposition that we have reached the end of history, still has its adherents; history, it seems, is somehow synonymous with the American destiny).

Indeed, when Greenspan made the "by-the-way" acknowledgment before the US Senate budget on 22 September 1998 that reserve bank policy-makers were fully aware of the widening financial crisis that had spread from Asia to the rest of the world and its impact on the US economy ("Deteriorating foreign economies and their spill-over to domestic markets have increased the possibility that the slowdown in the growth of the American economy will be more than sufficient to hold inflation in check.")58, financial analysts profoundly proclaimed that this was the clearest indication yet that Greenspan would fight the prospect of a spreading recession by lowering US interest rates. Asian markets soared, some of the capital that had fled South Africa in search of safer or more lucrative rewards returned to the JSE, and the rand recovered to close the day's trading at R5.8 to the dollar – the "symbolic" R6.0 to the dollar benchmark had been breached, and in the euphoria that followed many market analysts predicted a quick recovery, overlooking the fact that not too long ago an exchange rate of R5.0 to the dollar was cause for the market to develop a severe case of the jitters.

In the event, when Greenspan did make his "momentous" decision, he cut the Federal Reserve Bank's prime rate 0.25 per cent, well below anticipation and already well discounted in the markets. The result: "An immense cloud of despondency hung over local markets as the JSE all share index took a further 3.337 per cent tumble….and the rand once again slid relentlessly against the dollar, breaking through the R6 barrier."59 So much for euphoria and its afterglow.

Greenspan's second intervention in the market in October, when he unexpectedly cut short-term interest rates by another one quarter of a per cent – the second such cut in the space of sixteen days -- had at least the salutary benefit of being unanticipated. Its impact was not prematurely discounted in the markets, and, therefore, was a more effective booster to market indexes, bringing with it the usual clamor of the collective pundits that the worst was behind us, and "recovery" – how can one talk of recovery when the full extent of the illness has not yet been fully diagnosed? -- was on the way.

Besides, when a person of Greenspan's pre-eminence is so unnerved by market developments that he finds himself publicly admitting that "I've never seen anything like this," when the Oracle himself starts to eat – gobble-humble pie, it behooves policy-makers everywhere to hold their breath –and their appetites. Interest rates cuts in other countries – Britain, Spain, Canada, China, Japan, and Ireland are providing a floor to cushion or forestall global recession. But Germany continues to resist a cut, creating sufficient uncertainty to keep the edge of volatility in the ascendant.

Some of the variables that had yet to make their full weight felt.

First, whether the turnabout in the fortunes of the yen "for real" is or a technical unwinding of highly-leveraged hedge-fund positions. In the space of three days the yen soared 20 per cent against the dollar, reversing its long slide. A stronger yen is the precise antidote for Asia's malaise for unless Pacific Rim exports become more competitive, thus taking the pressure off China to devalue and boosting the buying power of Japanese consumers, recovery of any substantial extent will remain problematical.

Second, the stop-and -start reform of the Japan's banking system seems to be getting off to a real start. Japan's government has committed itself to injecting $600 billion into the banking system, a sum that is equal to almost all of Japan's bad loans. But many are dubious, and if past practices are anything to go by, the well-chronicled pattern of false starts feeds skepticism.

Third, the details of a $30-$50 billion bail-out for Brazil are finally being refined, but whether the huge cuts in public expenditure that underpin the loan will merely substitute a recession that will envelop most of the Americas rather than a financial implosion that would result in economic meltdown is a question that may have the speculators once again emerging from their safe havens. Indeed, the fine-tuning is proving to be less than fully in tune with the package put together by the IMF and the G7 countries. While there is a growing belief in the markets that the official package cannot succeed without private sector assistance, commercial and financial banks are reluctant to further extend themselves. Brazil's foreign reserves have fallen from $75 billion to $43 billion since August, and even with the scale of the aid package on the table, it does not inspire confidence, and thus the financial predators wait and watch.60

Fourth, the most watched, and befittingly, the least open to scrutiny: what will happen in China? Despite its continued insistence that it will meet the targeted growth rates of 8 per cent for both 1998 and 1999 and that devaluation of the yuan, which would trigger a new financial panic in East Asia, is out of the question, all indicators point to a severe economic slowdown. A growth rate of even 4 per cent this year or next would in China's circumstances amount to a recession, given that every percentage point drop in GDP means 5 million more unemployed, that some reliable estimates already predict 18-20 million unemployed within a year –a recipe for political unrest.61 In addition there are signs that China's financial institutions are becoming a little unstuck. China's banks are burdened with bad debts both to state enterprises and property speculators made during the boom days of the early 1990s. Many state enterprises are themselves bankrupt and face closure, unpalatable though that course of action is to the Chinese.62

The extent of the bail-out required to rescue the hedge-fund Long-term Capital Management (LTCM), including the involvement of the Federal Reserve Bank, took the markets by surprise, Unanswered questions abound: how was the fund so easily borrow huge sums from banks that obviously had little idea of the risks they were incurring; How was LTCM able to leverage its capital to unheard of levels before it imploded, threatening to bring the entire financial system crashing to earth with unparalleled impact? Are the nation's bigger banks so hobbled that they will stop lending money, thereby strangling the US economy?63

This is not to say that many of South Africa's monetary and fiscal objections are not laudable. They are, but they should be undertaken for their own sake because they promote a prudent running of the country's affairs and thus facilitate the larger transformation that is germane to the successful implementation of the RDP, not in the hope that they will attract foreign investment. As in so many things, South Africans are prone to shift the burden for their various predicaments to others, and in the misplaced role of victim to shift responsibility for the remedy of these predicaments from themselves to others.

One can see this propensity at work during the current "world" crisis. Globalization is here to stay, Thabo Mbeki informs the citizenry. The crisis South Africa faces is not of its own making; rather it is a case of South Africa being caught in the fallout following the collapse of the Asian markets. "The stark reality," Mbeki told the NAM summit, "is that the power to influence markets lies exclusively in the hands of those who dominate those markets, which we, even collectively, do not."64

The "Asian Tigers," which before their ignominious implosions were the IMF's models of probity to be emulated by all emerging markets, were now harshly condemned for the laxity of their banking systems, and a new phrase--"crony capitalism"-- was coined to describe their disgrace. (Somehow the bail-out of LTCM didn't fit the label). They were put in quarantine for the contagion they could spread. But the contagion did spread, and hence South Africa's dilemmas.

( In one of its less restrained moments, that most restrained of organizations, the IMF, gushed that "in [Southeast Asia], the region is poised to extend its success into the twenty-first century and governments still have a major role in driving this process" This confidence was rooted in "the region's strong macro economic principles, in [Southeast Asia's] tradition of, and commitment to, efficient allocation of investment, and in the widespread belief that the external environment would continue to be supportive." 65 Less than a year later, the IMF decried Asia's "fundamentals" as severely wanting. The crisis, it argued, was "mostly home-grown.")

Perhaps the beginnings of South Africa coming to its senses came in Washington DC at the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. The glitterati of the financial world gathered to discuss what was now being routinely described as the worst financial crisis to engulf the world economy in 50 years. What lent gravitas to the occasion was the fact that the crisis they had gathered to discuss was never supposed to have happened. Hadn't the integration of global capital markets, the sophistication of the instruments that allowed for risk diversification management, disclosure requirements, financial regulation and supervision, the omnipresence of rating agencies, the plethora of complex risk models, real-time transactions and instantaneous communications protect the kind of collapse that was gathering speed as they pondered the question: What had gone wrong?

Great minds knitted their brows and looked for fairy-tale remedies. But there were none. Symposiums, work-shops, plenary sessions, one-on-ones, the mighty and the not-so mighty clustered together applying their collective wisdom to unraveling the monetary mess that was causing financial gyrations in world markets and threatening economic chaos. It was if the free market had gotten away from them, had discovered that its power was unbounded, that the unfettered movement of rapacious capital, as it zigzagged from market to market and from markets to havens of shelter, could devour whole economies, and yet find its appetite still unsated, searching in apoplectic fits and starts for the carcasses of other bankrupt countries.

The South Africa delegation to the Washington DC meetings, Business Day informed its readers, were quietly celebrating amid the frenzy of concern that that consumed the bearers of ill-tidings. Moody's Investor Service had revised South Africa's rating from negative to stable – the patient could leave intensive care. But the patient had nowhere to go.66

When the South African delegation gathered to brief the world's financiers about South Africa's stalwart efforts to stave off collapse, it found that few had come to listen, disregarded, considered an irrelevancy although the JSE in terms of market capitalization was the 12th largest in the world. "I have been here three days" Cyril Ramaphosa complained when he addressed one of the keynote assemblies, " and I haven't heard the word "Africa" mentioned once. Does Africa count? Is Africa on the agenda?"67 To which the ever-smooth Michel Cadamuses, president of the IMF, urbanely replied that Africa was lucky; it not being on the agenda signified that it was not in trouble. Which was, in a rather condescending fashion, reiterating Ramaphosa's point in the more gentle but inscrutable language of the international financial community: Africa didn't count. If all the markets in Africa went into free-fall, it wouldn't make the damnedest bit of difference to the markets in London, New York, Hong Kong or Tokyo. Africa simply wasn't on the financial map, and South Africa was simply a rather antiquated engine that drove something that didn't count: a shark in its own sea; a minnow in the larger ocean.

"The world must stop ignoring Africa," Finance Minister Trevor Manuel. But he was not overly hopeful that his demand would be met. "We are facing ongoing battles [at the IMF and World Bank meetings], and the biggest battle is to indicate that there is a world beyond the G7, and it is largely a world of poverty. It's a very hard battle against Afro-pessimism. The world is centred on the northern hemisphere, which does have large problems. We have to scream even louder for people to understand that there are millions living in Africa."68

Cause for further annoyance on the South Africans' part the few non-South Africans who attended the briefing largely chose to ignore the stringent measures South Africa had resorted in the face of needing to redress huge social imbalances in order to meet the budget deficit reductions of GEAR. Instead, they peppered their questions with an unending litany of South African crime-horror stories. Whether the South Africans got the point is open to doubt –the senior police brass may showcase a massive PR campaign to show that crime statistics are falling, law enforcement becoming more effective, and corruption being weeded out, but the public aren't buying it – and neither are foreign investors.

The flow of funds to the continent, he noted, was getting progressively worse. "There isn't much foreign direct investment, there has been decreasing aid from donors; there's no change from the World Bank, and HIPC (the heavily -indebted poor countries relief program) is too slow."69

Commentary shifted focus: no longer was attention drawn to the fact that South Africa was already in crisis before "the" crisis. Now there was an all-encompassing explanation for everything that went wrong, ranging from the collapse of Bafana-Bafana in the World Cup to the ineffectiveness of GEAR. The perils of globalization. Global convulsions that South Africa could only watch in dismay, as they cleaned out its stock exchange, played havoc with its currency, and lurched the country toward recession, but could not hold at bay. Caught in the back wash, the country clung to its survival raft, surfing the billowing waves of financial crashes, riding the cascading floods, holding on for dear life. But who could blame it if it fell off? At least, unlike others, it had not drowned.

But globalization is coming in for the kind of scrutiny heretofore the glamour associated with it precluded. The herd discovered that unfettered capitalism is not the panacea for the world's economic ills; indeed that it has a penchant to punish the weak and reward the strong; that rather than eliminating imbalances and inequities among nations, it tends to do the opposite, increasing income differentials rather than diminishing them. No one takes issue with the fact that globalism is with us to stay; what is, however, less clear is how to regulate, in an information -saturated age guided by electronic radar that decode stress calls as automatic instructions to exploit rather than to assist, financial flows that do not find their way into wealth-creating activities but into profit-taking opportunities, the system becomes dysfunctional.

In the longer course of events, if South Africa continues to depend upon inflows of short term capital, which has no commitment other than to take advantage of whatever quick-profit opportunities the markets offer and is footloose to trawl international markets in search of such opportunities, then the country is placing itself in a permanent state of vulnerability and indecent exposure to uncertainty, and guarantees that the conditions for sustainable growth will always wither on the vine of voracious capitalism.

Like it or not, the key to growth lies in dealing with the structural impediments to growth. It must generate domestic savings i.e. curb consumption that is debt -financed to finance long-term fixed capital investment. With a savings ratio well-below the level for countries at comparable levels of development, South Africa seems to believe that it can attract the foreign capital to compensate for its own spendthrift ways. In other words, development will be painless, South Africa can continue to indulge itself in paroxysm of self-indulgence, in the naïve belief that the capital accrued out of the savings generated in other countries because of their thrift will by some eluctable logic find its way to South Africa. It must differentiate between the conditions that attract short term capital flows and long term flows. The conditions for the former already exist; they are an impediment to creating the conditions for the latter.

Labor practices are among the most restrictive in the world. The Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act are models of progressive legislation and of a deep-rooted resolution on the part of government and trade unions that their will be no going back to the "bad old days" when many businesses exploited black labor to perpetuate white privilege. But the scope of the provisions in both acts may defeat the very purposes for which they were enacted: you cannot protect labor if there are no jobs to protect. Provisions that require long and cumbersome procedures before an employee can be retrenched – not that employees should not have adequate protections; annual minimum leave of 21 days which in addition to the profligate number of public holidays guarantees that the economy is idle for almost 6 weeks during the working year; extending the circumstances under which strike action may be resorted to and permitting "sympathy" strikes by workers in industries not involved in labor disputes; stringent requirements for making the composition of work forces representative of the population i.e. for affirmative action, again with reporting and inspection provisions that entail higher administration costs, are a disincentive to employers to hire people when in many cases a machine can do the job more efficiently --and no disgruntlement.70

A feature of the global economy as we enter the final years of a century not particularly distinguished for its regard for human life, is that technology has in fact made human labor replaceable as a factor of production in ever-increasing areas of economic activity. One third of the eligible work force in the world is either unemployed or under-employed71, that is, there are one billion people spread across the globe who cannot provide the wherewithal for their own survival or the survival of their families. Nor will they ever be in a position to do so. Economic growth is increasingly of the non job-creating kind. The problem the world faces as it straddles the cusp of the 21st century is what to do with people.

While South Africa pays the usual lip-service to there being a global economy, which has in a manner usurped some of the functions of sovereign nation-states, it does so with what would be categorized as a bi-polar disposition in psychiatric parlance. Perhaps this is an inevitable consequence of coming into being as a sovereign nation with a constitution that must certainly rank among the best in terms of the protections it guarantees its citizens, just at a time when long-held notions of sovereignty and national independence were being increasingly called into question as the process of globalization gathered momentum after the collapse of communism and trade liberalization became the fashion of the times. Caught between trying to exercise the muscles of its newly-found independence, yet having to submit to the rigorous regimen of global dictates, South Africa veered between the two, trying to adhere to both while sacrificing to neither.

For South Africa to ignore the fact that it is part of a larger economy, indeed, that it is only a minuscule and not very important component of that economy, that a massive overabundance in the supply of labor is the prevailing norm in that economy, that South Africa's labor force is competing with a billion plus others, is to recycle itself into the isolation it endured during the apartheid years. Seeing things only through the prism of South Africa distorts the global realities South Africa faces, one of which is that to create jobs in a cut-throat market that has no boundaries you must be understand the world you live in.

South Africa does not.

Its pursuit of a perfect world for the masses will leave the masses without anything – even their dignity. In the act of emancipating them, their benevolent masters will enslave them, not by denying freedom but by encouraging its excesses.

It is hard to understand the reasoning behind some of the more restrictive clauses of these acts, of the over-regulation that stymies enterprise, of the misgauging of the importance that prospective investors -- domestic or foreign -- attach to flexible labor markets, unless, of course, you were a victim of apartheid's oppression and inhumanity, and paid an non-redeemable deposit of pain for bringing the government to the point of acknowledging that it could not sustain the system indefinitely. Which makes it all the more difficult to say "let's stop blaming everything on the legacy of apartheid and get on with the future."

South Africa must review its labor market practices, not because they are "wrong" in some undefined sense, but because they make South Africa uncompetitive with other emerging markets in its league: wages are out of sync with productivity; unit labor costs are substantially out of line with costs in the countries it competes with. No amount of well-meaning labor legislation that guarantees workers' rights to a degree unheard of in most developed countries will address this uncompetitiveness, until labor productivity begins to match increases in wage levels -- an unlikely probability in the foreseeable future.

South Africa, many would say, stands on the precipice, staggering a little, but not falling. The Wall Street Journal, probably the world's most influential financial organ, although the Financial Times would no doubt take umbrage at the accolade, published an article by David Roche, president of the London-based firm of investment consultants, Independent Strategy, in September 1998 that all but pushed South Africa over the precipice.72 While the article was highly controversial and assailed by financial analysts in South Africa for the harshness of its predictions and the alleged incorrectness of some of the data it cited as facts, many of its contentions and conclusions were not refuted.73

Not disputed: That wage levels in the manufacturing sector are well above the emerging market average; that productivity levels do not compensate for wage levels; that rigidities in the labour market contribute to the high rate of unemployment; that these rigidities are compounded by the Equity in Employment Act.

In terms of cause and effect, a serious case can be made that the weakening of the rand had set in well before the bubble burst with Russia's collapse when stock exchanges around the world plummeted and were deluged with calls from institutional speculators, and pre-programmed computer-generated instructions from financial institutions to transfer massive amounts of capital to safer havens went into automatic action. Indeed, in programming ourselves against losses beyond a certain threshold, we have created the instruments of panic which ensure the losses these electronic watchdogs are supposed to guard against. The market's response merely accelerated a trend in the rand's fortunes that was nibbling away at the margins since the beginning of the year.

Lost in the turbulence was the troubling performance of the commodity markets. The Benchmark Commodity Research Unit index, which measures a basket of 17 commodity futures prices, fell to a 21 year low. Across the board, commodity prices are depressed as demand weakens in Asia, a major export destination.74

Historically, the first industries to feel the loss of confidence that either precedes or accompanies economic down-turns are commodity producers, especially exporters. Thus, as their balance of payments deteriorate, their currencies come under pressure, especially if their foreign exchange reserves are low to begin with. South Africa, once again, is no exception. Whether the commodity is gold, or coal or grains and agricultural goods, South Africa is feeling the effects of the slump in demand in world markets, and if global deflation begins to accelerate, the situation will only worsen, because, although once and not so long ago, gold was considered to be the safe haven of last resort, a sinecure that is now the almost exclusive preserve of long-dated European and US government bonds.75

The unions, perhaps in a state of denial, or harping for the good old days of "struggle" reacted the changing world order with pavlovian predictability. They would strike. Rising inflation, high interest rates, and increasing numbers of dependants who were unemployed were eroding the purchasing power of the employed who were intent on protecting their interests, on not allowing the hard-earned gains they had made since 1994 to evaporate for reasons they had little understanding of and no sympathy for. Thus the pre-emptive action before the economy slides into recession. But higher wages will mean little if there are either fewer or no recipients there to receive them.

In the first quarter of 1998, the number of working days lost through strikes approached the 300,000 mark -- the highest since 1994.76 In the first six months of 1998, the number of strikes increased by 20 per cent compared with the first six months of 1997.77

More were promised. The prospect of recession and increasing unemployment did nothing to curb the unions resort to striking when wage negotiations began to stall. More alarming perhaps, was the disturbing alacrity with which striking workers turned to violence to pressurize employers, their non-striking colleagues, and even customers.78 Strikes were increasingly characterized by militancy and violence: arson at Eskom, clashes at petrol suppliers, teacher strikes that threatened to get out of hand as teachers in some areas trashed the schools they taught in, and rhetoric that often verged on inciting workers to take matters into their own hands.

Not only did it appear that strikes were being used as the remedy of first resort, it also appeared that when employers did not immediately capitulate to workers' demands, workers simply took matter into their own hands. The unions themselves were frequently in the invidious position of not being able to restrain their members. The net impact was to reinforce the perception of foreign investors that the labor climate was extremely unstable, and that perception, allied to the perception that the market was remarkably inflexible, added to the unwillingness of foreign investor to get involved in the machinations of South Africa's industrial sector.

(Flexible labor markets practices have helped machinery manufacturers in rich countries to boost competition and increase employment, according to a study conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Flexible labor practices such as variable working hours,, including night work, weekend work and long shifts mainly affect workers in Germany, Japan, and the US, the world's largest machinery producers, accounting between them for 67 per cent of world output. However, according to the ILO report, they are increasingly being adopted by the industry in developing countries, now employing about 45 million of the world workforce. China alone accounts for 30 per cent of world employment in the sector. Global employment increased by 4.5 million, or 12 per cent in the last decade, with most of the employment increases coming in low-income countries.

While acknowledging that flexible labor practices have helped companies compete in the global market and preserve employment, the ILO says this imperative must be balanced by workers' needs for job security and satisfactory working conditions. It stresses the need for adequate consultation)79.

Adding to the confusion of potential investors was the failure to comprehend how unions in an economy on the brink of recession and suffering from massive and increasing unemployment levels could continue to bring their members out on strike, demand wage increases in excess of productivity growth, and further the chances of the economy tumbling into a full-blown recession. In the circumstances prevailing in world markets, the unions' actions seemed irrational at best, and an economic death-wish at worst, but whatever the rationale for industrial action, South Africa is increasingly seen as a place to avoid investing in, a country with an unhealthy penchant for wanting to self-destruct rather than a country hospitable to foreign investment which went out of its way to minimize the uncertainty involved.

A motor industry component suppliers strike called by NUMSA forced four of the country's seven automobile manufacturers to close some of their assembly plants because of component shortages caused by the strike, placing in jeopardy an industry that is one of South Africa's largest foreign exchange earners and a provider of 34,000 jobs. The strike cost assembly manufacturers $25 million a day.80

In other plants workers were sent home without pay because supply shortages meant that no work was available. The manufacturers, who stood to lose billions of rands in export orders gave firm notice that if the domestic suppliers of critical components could not be relied upon to deliver, then manufacturers would have no option but to "outsource" supplies, even if that meant having to import them.81 Weeks later, as the strike continued, despite efforts at mediation, manufacturers began to use the option of last resort – a number began to fly in key components in order to keep their production lines moving.82 The "hidden" costs of the strike are probably incalculable. How does one put a measure on the perception in export markets that South Africa is an unreliable supplier aftermath of the strike may be

Indeed, in 1998 unions "rediscovered" industrial action after the relative hiatus of 1997 and 1996. Work days lost to strikes looked set to reach the highest level since 1994 following a wave of public and private sector strikes. An expected 2 million work days were lost, significantly higher than the 1997 figure of 650,000 work days in 1997, and the 1996 figure of 1.7 million.83

More alarming perhaps, was the disturbing alacrity with which striking workers turned to violence to pressurize employers, their non-striking colleagues, and even customers.84

COSATU itself acknowledged that the trend in 1998 that presaged long and intense strikes during collective bargaining had damaged industrial relations and "might take time to repair."85 "Once a strike has continued for more than a week," Mbhaima, general secretary of COSATU said, "trade unions and employers are prone to decide they might as well sit it out. Long drawn-out strikes not only frustrate workers but also make a speedy negotiated settlement more difficult." His conclusion: "It does not augur well for good industrial relations."86 Yet, Shilowa insisted that the strain employers were under to compete on the international level was being aggravated by employers themselves who thought that the solution to their problems lay in taking a hard line in wage negotiations.

COSATU refused to accept that workers should bear the full brunt of the opening up of the economy. Nor would unions accept wage freezes in a situation of high interest rates.87

Nor was COSATU itself idle. Besides looking for ways to extend the "sympathy" strikes the Labour Relations Act provided for, to include the international trade union movement which had links with the companies involved in domestic labor disputes,88, it gave notice that if the government persisted in the privitization of what the federation insisted were basic municipal services like water, it would call a nation-wide strike. The government lashed out at COSATU. Valli Moosa, Minister of Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development, accused COSATU and its affiliate, the South African Municipality Workers Union (SAMWU) of adopting an "ultra-leftist, which is in reality an ultra-rightist position."89

COSATU, he said, had gotten it wrong: the government was not privitizing the provision of basic services but undertaking public/private sector partnerships to extend to extend services to communities previously excluded. Nonsense, COSATU responded, claiming that the government was "abdicating its responsibility." International experience, it argued, "has shown that privitization always leads to an increase in tariffs, making services unaffordable to the majority."90 Hence, COSATU would proceed with a day of mass action on 30 September – which it did -- to protest privitization of government services and to demand an immediate moratorium of the sale of state enterprises. There would be no compromising.91

And to add to the growing breakdown in relationships between workers and employers, COSATU, objecting to a draft prepared by a task force which was supposed to have been ratified by Needle's executive council on 11 September, refused at the last minute to agree to the provisions of a social plan agreement in the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), thereby delaying its ratification by six months. However, at that meeting, COSATU raised objections to the threshold level for retrenchments at which the provisions of the social plan would take effect.92

And thus the ways of South Africa.

And yet, when the Washington DC-based Investor Responsibility Research Centre (IRRC) published the results of a survey it had carried out, 343 executives from multi-national companies doing business in the country indicated a growing disillusionment with the economic situation in South Africa, the government acted as though it somehow had been slighted. In 1997, 48 per cent thought that South Africa;]'s economic management compared favorably with other emerging markets. In 1998, only 26 per cent were of the same opinion. The figure who felt South Africa was doing a worse job than their counterparts elsewhere rose from 11 per cent to 15 per cent. A small majority -- 51 per cent thought that South Africa's labor productivity was worse than that of other emerging markets compared to 37 per cent a year ago, while 41 per cent gave South Africa a "worse" rating with regard to labor relations, up from 34 per cent a year ago. The IRRC's conclusion: South Africa is losing ground in the competition among emerging markets for direct foreign investment.93

Nor in some ways did it appear that South Africa was particularly cognizant of the competition for that capital. Despite the enormous and costly efforts emerging markets engaged in to sell their wares to foreign investors with all types of tax incentives and often capital subsidies thrown in, 70 per cent of direct foreign investment flowed among developed countries, and only 30 per cent found its way into developing countries, of which China alone absorbed some 40 per cent, leaving a scant 18 per cent of total foreign direct investment for the rest of the emerging world to fight over.94

The IRRC's findings were nothing new. A string of international reports reflected poorly on foreign investor sentiment toward South Africa. Among them, Data Resources International (DRI), a subsidiary of McGraw Hill (Standard and Poor's parent), issued a report which ranked South Africa more risky than Russia in its survey of ten emerging markets. It cited South Africa's low foreign reserves, low economic growth, and high unemployment for its ranking.95 Given Russia's collapse, the multiple devaluation of the rouble, its stated intention to default on its foreign obligations, its political turmoil, South Africans could be forgiven for being irked by DRI's classification.96 On its heels, Moody's, the US-based credit rating agency announced that it had placed three of South Africa's ratings on review. The agency cited the economy's inability to create jobs; slow economic growth over the last two years, and recent market volatility as reasons for its action.97

Nor were criticisms of the government's economic stewardship solely the province of overseas assessors. In its September issue of its quarterly bulletin, the South African Reserve Bank itself argued that the government should move faster in implementing market reforms, raised concerns about labor costs, which it said were rising after showing moderation in 1997.("In 1998, the implementation of the outstanding reform measures might help to make the economy more resilient to external shocks and attract sustained inflows of foreign direct investment capital." Perhaps in deference to its own preferred sense of anonymity, the Bank failed to mention that its own actions had done much to trigger "external shocks." Nor did it clearly identify the required reforms.)98

went nowhere in most cases, and eventually the national RDP Office, which was supposed to drive the change process, was closed down and its funding shifted back to the Department of Finance.

The old elite interests ( in association with the new elite interests) began to make themselves felt. International financial institutions and domestic business interests began to put pressure on the government to abandon the "idealism" of the RDP and start living in the "real" world. The politics of power and political opportunism began to make its effects known. People who perceived the struggle to be over began to put their own interests above those of the community. The outcome of these trends has been a definite narrowing of possibilities.

The scope to challenge the power of established interest groups was further limited by the abandonment of the national RDP Office, the enactment of the new Constitution, and the adoption of GEAR. The interests of property owners have been entrenched. Economic policy is supposedly "non-negotiable." The stream has entered a course of stone. Some erosion can still occur, but to effect any kind of change in direction is going to be very difficult.

Increasingly parliamentary procedures designed to foster participatory policy-making are being by-passed. The free flow of progressive ideas and options for change is increasingly stifled. And what it is being replaced with is a high-handed technocratic, "expert" consultant-driven approach that simply assumes what people want or need (and will get), with little or no consultation or participation by the people who will be affected.

Whereas a few years ago there was great optimism about realising far reaching change in almost all spheres, now only incremental and limited change seems all the government seems willing and able to do, given the nature of the political and economic compromises that have been made to date. The tremendous effort placed into creating structures over the last three years is now bearing the fruit of increasing control, rather than increased participation (as was the intention). The vision of a people-centred development process has been largely lost.

As a result the mood on the ground is gradually becoming more adversarial, more impatient with the slow delivery of the most basic needs (water, sanitation, housing), the government's failure to support community development initiatives and the continued day-to-day experience of unemployment and poverty. There is a growing perception that not enough has changed in the way the government does things.

More significantly, government policy has shifted from the "people-centred" development approach of the RDP to the adoption of the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy which, in essence , is a private sector driven growth strategy. It is ironic that this new growth policy's success is dependent on the goodwill and investment of the very groups that benefited from the policies of the apartheid regime.99

Debt: The Catch 22

Nor were the devastation of endemic wars the only travails convoluting an ailingAfrica. In the face of overwhelming poverty, exacerbated by AIDS, dysfunctional education, the virtual non-existence of electricity, sanitation, and clean water, rudimentary and unhygienic health care, recurrent famines the continent owed some $227 billion to international creditors, which amounted to about $600 for each person on the continent. Of the 41 most heavily indebted low-income countries in the world, no fewer than 31 are in Africa.

In 1996, the World Bank and the IMF announced a plan to reduce the debt burdens of the world's poorest countries. Two years later, a confidential report to the World Bank's executive board said that "considerable progress had been made."100 One shudders to think what the World Bank might construe as lack of progress. Some 40 countries, again , mostly in Africa, were sufficiently poor and indebted to qualify for assistance under the 1996 debt-relief plan. Of those, ten have had their cases reviewed, and six, three of which were African – Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, and Mozambique been promised help.

Only one – Uganda -- has had any debt forgiven. And only a handful more will qualify for aid before the end of the century, despite the Bank having agreed to relax its restrictions at the 8 September meeting to enable countries which had put economic reform programs in place by 2000 to become eligible for assistance, thus opening the door for war torn countries such as the DRC, Angola, and Sudan. However, even with the relaxed restrictions in place, and assuming that all debt-relief conditions are met – a big assumption, only a handful of countries will receive any relief by the end of the century.101

One reason is that debt relief raises the cost to creditor governments, and about half is owed to rich-country governments which also pick up much of the outstanding debts of multilateral institutions that lack the resources to do so themselves. The cost to creditor countries would become much greater if the pool of countries eligible for benefits is further increased.

Moreover, with large and economically important areas slowly succumbing to the impact of the global financial crisis, the effects of which may take two years to work its way through the global market, developed countries have become more circumspect. Adding to the caution and uncertainty is the huge cost of financing the bail-out of Brazil, continuing economic and political instability -- which can only worsen – and the looming crisis in China. A devaluation of the Chinese yuan or the Hong Kong dollar would devastate Asian markets, crushing their efforts to pick themselves up following the East Asian debacable, send the usual "shock waves" through the developed world, harden predictions of a global recession to the point where the near-certainty attached to the predictions create situations in which the predictions become inevitable certainties, and lead to a global crisis of liquidity. In these circumstances, or even less consequential ones, as the bite of economic slowdown begins to clench its teeth on the West's economies, developed countries will do what is best for themselves – the resuscitation of foreign markets to absorb their exports and cushion unemployment will be the first order of business, and hence an even more ambitious emphasis on pulling Asia in particular, and the more important emerging markets in the Americas out of their quagmires.

Unfortunately, the less developed emerging markets or the undeveloped markets of the rest of the world, the world of the chronically poor and for the most part forgotten, will not be part of recovery programs, because not having had much to begin with, there is little to recover, and there is no comparison between the short-term return on 1 billion dollars spent on debt-relief or 1 billion dollars spent in bailing-out the markets that count.

This leaves South Africa in a no-man's land. An emerging market, yes; but one that has not lived up to its potential and shows little signs of doing so, especially as it has to contend with recession in an election year where the election results will be more pivotal than the elections in 1994 since they will point to the direction of South Africa's future well into the 21st century. But also an emerging market surrounded by some of the poorest countries in the world, hostage to the uncertain – or, in many cases, the absence of a future in many, to the endemic strife that the continent seems unable to stem, and with a culture of corruption that has led many donor countries to abandon their efforts to help when the only real tangible results of relief is the enrichment of elites and the further impoverishment of the masses.

South Africa, of course, has its own debt problem, one largely inherited from the past when the last National Party government "splurged" in black areas in an attempt to woo the black vote.

However misguided and fiscally irresponsible the strategy -- current expenditure financed by borrowing rather than taxation -- the largely underemployed, unskilled employed and unemployed cannot save enough to finance the investment needed to accelerate the rate of economic growth. Personal savings, whether estimated at a low of 0.5 per cent or a high of 1.8 per cent of disposable income, and household debt to income hovering at the 70 per cent level are both the lowest and highest respectively in the emerging market universe. With interest rates well above 20 per cent, the cost of servicing the government's debt accounts for more than 20 per cent of total government expenditure. The public sector wage bill accounts for another 25 per cent of public current account expenditure and absorbs more than 15 per cent of GDP. The gap between imports and exports is increasing, and thus increasing the deficit on the current account, which is estimated to produce a shortfall of R18 billion in 1998 or 3 per cent of GDP. Foreign debt servicing will amount to another R18 billion, or another 3 per cent of GDP. Thus, the two taken together exceed current foreign reserves of R32 billion. Long-term foreign direct investment inflows amount to 0.5 per cent of GDP compared to an emerging market average of 2 per cent. In summary, further foreign exchange intervention in the market in the current circumstances would almost certainly backfire, fuelling rather than curtailing speculation since the country lacks the foreign reserves to repulse any kind of sustained attack on the currency.

n an essay for the African Renaissance Conference entitled How Africa was Brought Low, Dr. Peter Ewang writes:

Bilateral and multilateral organizations have made certain policy interventions as a direct precondition for loan effectiveness. However, these activities ignore the fact that in Africa n countries the constraints for development are not caused solely by economic factors but by institutional weakness, low level social awareness, education and healthcare.

Most of the time the constraints have been ignored. Nowadays decisions are dominated by or influenced by international organizations with very limited technical and socio-culural expertise and insight concerning African countries. Development is something that means something distinctly different to those being developed and those doing the developing. The economic structure of African countries has been developed not to feed their own people but to meet the import needs of development that have made Africa a sight of recurring famine, unpayable debts, and in need of a renaissance.

There is ample evidence that international development programmes have failed in most of the African countries. Since 1980 Africa has received billions of dollars as aid through development programmes yet Africa today produces less food and has more hungry people. It is no coincidence that over the past decades, some of the largest recipients of the USA and the former Soviet Union's aid in Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Sudan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, and Angola, have been nations where war, famine and hunger are most common.

At best the aid programmes of the past were not effective, at worst they have been part of the problem. Development has often helped destroy people's ability to feed themselves. Offers of food pour in but obtaining financial resources for rehabilitation is usually difficult. Dumping food as relief has not solved the developmental problems of Africa. Food aid extended by developed countries, following devastating famines caused by civil strife and natural calamities, has adversely affected the capacity of the continent to deal with its problems. Generally food aid programmes have introduced a harmful spirit of submissiveness and dependency into these poor societies and inefficiency and corruption into governments of most of these countries.

The hunger and debt caused by the huge debts are difficult to accept. Governments in Sub-Sahara Africa have been pressured by the IMF and the World Bank into implementing structural adjustment programmes in order to acquire loans for development. These countries are made to pay their debts by surrendering the bulk of their export earnings, leasing out valuable resources at throwaway prices to earn extra income and sacrificing social and environmental considerations to earn enough to pay their debts.

Many countries in Sub-Sahara Africa owe more money today than what they did 10 or 20 years ago. In fact, in 1992 African external debt had reached $290 billion, about 2.4 times greater than in 1980. In the Sub-Saharan African countries alone the debt increased from $6 billion in 1970 to $243 billion in 1994. The big question is why the big institutions (the World Bank, IMF, and others) let this unbearable debt accrue?102

That such an essay should be one of the showcase features introducing the conference is cause for reflection. The insinuation is that developed countries not only plundered Africa in the past, but continue to do so in the guise of development programs, which although ostensibly tailored to the needs of the country in question are in effect instruments of measured interference, designed to service the needs of the developed countries. Even humanitarian aid -- food to alleviate famine – is viewed in a sinister light. For every dollar given in aid, there is a condition, an unspoken agenda to mould the economies of the poorer countries according to the dictates and, needless to say, advantage of the donor country.

The essay is an expression of anger at developed countries; at their hubris, their "we-know-it-all" attitude; their condescension inherited from the lingering sense of conquest and the unstated but silently-held conviction that things were better in "their" day. Indeed, even today, and perhaps to a greater degree in the post-Cold War era, former colonial powers vie with each other for "parental" control over what used to be "their" Africa, and when the children are naughty, they are not above sending in their troops to sort things out, all under the pretence of having to "protect" their citizens who are still residents of whatever godforsaken piece of earth is being scorched in the interests of some tin pot dictator or the would-be usurper of his much-coveted position. It is a manifestation of deep resentment of the developed countries' self-perceived sense of going out of the way to help, at the altruism they smother themselves in, when the help really only makes recipients more roiled that they have to turn to their former "masters" or clones of their erstwhile masters for help in the first place; bitterness that the help encourages a culture of helplessness, thus fostering the dependency the help is supposed to eradicate.

It is noteworthy, too, for what it fails to say. That every other country in large swaths of the continent is embroiled in civil conflict or party to the civil conflicts of others; that famine is often self-induced; that food relief is used as a weapon to leverage concessions from the enemy; that food is often withheld from the starving and mysteriously finding its way into the hands of the warmongers; that corruption is pervasive.

Given that many of Africa's conflicts have their roots in borders arbitrarily drawn by conquering powers with little regard to natural alignments, ethnic demarcations, or history, and that fears of domination by one ethnic group –often justified – are never far from the surface, that natural disasters have taken an inordinate toll, that the 12 million refugees who are permanently homeless – and countryless -- have nowhere to go and create a permanent source of instability in the region, and that indebtedness cripples the prospects for development, one can easily empathize with the rage of Africa.

But the failure of Ewang to acknowledge that Africans may have anything to do with the plight they are in, that the actions of their elites or of those who stoked ethnic antagonisms and fanned the flames of hatred for personal ambition, of those who looted their countries of their wealth on a scale almost unimaginable to imagine, who have exploited their own people to a degree that not even the colonial imperialists of the past could match, to fail to hold Africa accountable for many of the ills that beset it is to sink into the self-pity that is the hallmark of the submissiveness and dependency he goes to such great lengths to warn against. Commenting on the renaissance conference, Thabo Kobokoane observed that: ''…the conflicts plaguing Africa did not dominate the proceedings."

Surely discussion on these wars and rebellions should have been at the centre of any debate about a reawakening Africa? After all, it is the continent's all-too-familiar problems that fly in the face of a so-called renaissance; a massive stumbling block to those who will eventually oversee its regeneration.

Yet to the bulk of African Renaissance delegates, the festering conflicts did not appear important. [An equally] pressing question that needed addressing concerned the nature of Africa's governments. How will the African renaissance "movement,"

an essentially private-driven initiate, relate to those states that have no tolerance of civil society?103 .

Race or class: which confers the greater degree of disadvantage, which provides the better yardstick for measuring it? While it is true that almost all blacks in South Africa are disadvantaged to one degree or another, it cannot be concluded that all whites are advantaged, although most of them are, and within the ranks of the black disadvantaged there are hierarchies of inequality, which, if applied across all racial categories would certainly result in many of the least disadvantaged of blacks being on par with many of the most disadvantaged of whites.

Which raises more fundamental questions: who are the truly disadvantaged, and do you measure the consequences of having been disadvantaged in terms of what might have happened to you as distinct from what actually happened to you. For example, time and again, some of the "best" schools in the country in terms of educational achievement are located in what would properly be regarded as some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country.104 What, in such cases, are the appropriate measure of disadvantage?

The Gini coefficient is the standard tool for measuring the degree of inequality in a society. On a scale of 0 to 1, where 0 represents absolute equality and 1 absolute inequality, South Africa currently ranks second in the world in terms of income inequality with a coefficient of 0.58; only Brazil ranks worse with a coefficient of 0.63. According to one argument, countries in the throes of development should undergo an increase in levels of income inequality, since growth by its very nature is an uneven process, and hence the inequities it gives rise to are a function of growth itself – a dynamic process in which the variables that drive it are themselves changing at differential rates -- important components of growth such as the movement of labor from less productive sectors of the economy to the more productive, patterns of migration from rural areas to urban areas, the distribution of capital with a preponderance going to capital-intensive industries, the unequal rates of technological change, the gestation of "new" industries all ensure that inequalities increase as society is in a perpetual state of transformation. It is not unsurprising therefore that Gini coefficients tend to be highest in the emerging economies – Chile (0.56), Panama (0.57), Thailand (0.46), Malaysia (0.56), and closer to South Africa, Zimbabwe (0.57) and Kenya (0.58). On the other end of the scale, countries with the highest degrees of inequality tend to be the poorest countries, trapped in unbreakable chains of pervasive poverty – Bangladesh (0.28), Rwanda (0.29) and Laos (0.30).105 The capitalist view: "inequality, despite its perceived inequity, is nothing more than growth in progress." 106 Which would appear to suggest that the greater the degree of inequality, the more growth in progress, and that if we value growth, we should be prepared tp tolerate the inequalities it breeds.

If the white view of inequality is that white affluence relative to blacks is not due to white exploitation of blacks which has contributed to the relative and absolute poverty of blacks, then Mbeki's delineation of two nations, one white and well off, the other black and poor is lost on whites, and is one more instance of the refusal on the part of whites to acknowledge the damage that apartheid did, especially in confining the education of blacks to a level that ensured that they could not rise above a certain functional level –of serving as the human fuel for the white industrial machines and as the underground excavators of the mineral wealth that enriched the white fraternity. If whites cannot bring themselves to see -- and acknowledge – that they exploited blacks in the past, and especially under apartheid, then the future for improved race relations are bleak, and an increasingly resentful black elite will seek retribution through the means whites fear most -- redistribution through taxation. How can one speak of nation-building when the peoples who are supposedly the rudimentary core of the nation engage each other with such silent enmity?

Thabo Mkebi once raised the German example: that so ardent were the West Germans for all Germans to be reunited under one flag and the enfolding arms of one nation they were prepared to pay a "unity tax" -- a 7.5 per cent surcharge on personal income tax that made possible a transfer of $586 billion in public funds from West to East to eliminate some of the huge imbalances in income levels that existed between the two. Even the mention of some similar mechanism to correct apartheid-induced imbalances in South Africa send whites scampering to their fear-stations.107

On their own behalf, whites point to the progress that has been made in the last decade in narrowing income differentials. According to the 1995 Central Statistics Survey (CCS) of household income and expenditure in the twelve main urban areas, the Gini coefficient decreased from 0.63 in 1990 to 0.55 in 1995. In these areas, over the same period, the ratio of white to black household income dropped from 5.85:1to 2.35:1. Black household incomes grew by 140 per cent in real terms while those for whites dropped by 3.4 per cent.

(It is not clear from the research cited in Finance Week whether their data refer to household income per household or household incomes in the aggregate.

Research suggests that the income ratio between unemployed and employed blacks is 29:1 ($230 per month compared to $8 per month). This is the biggest income differential that exists in South Africa and stands in contrast to the 3.4:1differential between employed whites and blacks in manufacturing.108

In its analysis of the CSS data, Finance Week conclude that "Mbeki's claim that SA is two nations may be true. But they are not black and white; they are the employed and the unemployed." But Finance Week is indulging itself in a chimera. Since at most 3 per cent of the white workforce is unemployed, the real comparison is between black and white employed and black unemployed, since 97 per cent of the unemployed are black.109

Or on further disaggregation: In 1996 over 22 per cent of households in South Africa were earning less than $85 a month. A total of 31 per cent of African households were earning less than $85 a month compared to 3 per cent of Coloureds, Indians, and white households.110 The United Nations Human Development Report indicates that the poorest 40 per cent of households in South Africa ( almost entirely African) earned only 9 per cent of the country's income and the richest 20 per cent ( almost entirely white ) earned 19 times more than the poorest 20 per cent.111

Again, the point is worth repeating: There is a growing black middle class, which in terms of numbers alone, is roughly equal to the country's white population; the disparities between white wage earners and black wage earners is decreasing; the numbers of blacks in senior management positions is increasing dramatically; the Employment Equity Act will have a fundamental effect on the composition of the labor force; and the number of unemployed is increasing –as companies "downsize" in response to the opening -up of markets and the liberalization of trade, attempt to become more competitive in a global economy that has little time or sympathy for the fact that they are tentatively making their way out of the protectionist policies they wrapped themselves in in the past, shed labor in favor of capital either because of capital's superior productivity or because labor legislation intended to correct the imbalances of the past proving too restrictive, making investment in labor a less cost-efficient or a more risk-intensive proposition.

Employment in the formal sector will, according to most surveys, will decrease in the next two yeas at least, and these estimates don't take into account the 500,000 plus school-leavers who enter the job-market each year.112

A World Bank report suggests that wage increases that exceed the rate of inflation often results in job losses. It quotes some examples: a 10 per cent increase in real wages for workers may lead to a 7 per cent loss in jobs – although this may vary from sector to sector. The bank also found that over half the job losses occur about two and a half years after increases are implemented.113 Since 1995, real wages have risen every year, and for the first three quarters of 1997, settlements have averaged a real 2 per cent. Hence, according to this analysis, more workers than ever could find themselves on the street by 2000 – hardly the most auspicious start to the millenium.

Economists, for the most part, argue that wage pressures are the key to investment decisions by private companies. A further consideration that adds to the cost of hiring labor is the degree of difficulty a company will face in times of economic hardship when it has to resort to worker lay-offs. The more inflexible the labor market in this regard, especially if specific procedures have to be followed in accordance with a country's labor laws, the more jaundiced the prospects for foreign direct investment. South Africa's labor laws are, in its own words, "labor friendly."114

Not many others see them that way.



Transitions are by their nature untidy things. The expectations so easily excited during the emotion-filled campaigns that precede the first democratic elections are rarely fulfilled. The promises of change, invariably carrying with them the intimations of better standards of living, wither, for the most part, on the vine of broken promises; the would-be revolutionaries and the visionary agents of massive social and economic transformation find themselves prisoners of circumstances beyond their control, and what appeared reasonable and sensible and equitable prior to the elections in 1994, become hostage to vested interests and bureaucratic endgames that leave their proponents discombobulated and often bewildered as they struggle to get their hands on the levers of power -- a practice often more honored in the breach.

And so it has come to pass in South Africa. The euphoria is gone. Disaffection has displaced enthusiasm, and although disillusionment has not yet reached an ugly threshold, it threatens to undermine the ethos that is a perquisite for the incubation of a democratic culture that will weather the travails of discontent and the almost pavlonian resort to mass mobilization on the part of the people that is one of the residual responses to the legacy of apartheid.

There is not one South Africa, but several; not one transition, but several; each one at a different stage of development, each one unique in its own right, each one having a relationship with the others, no matter how fragile; in the end, all must acknowledge their mutual interdependencies. The strongest province is only as strong as the weakest. Either South Africa gets a better grip on the things that make for these differences, or it will sink under the weight of its own contradictions.

Despite a democratic parliament and a plethora of democratic institutions, albeit many are at the embryonic stage, an executive that prides itself on transparency, a president whose moral completeness overwhelms lesser mortals, a constitution and bill of rights that are among the most enlightened in the world, a constitutional court that already has flexed its muscle in the exercise of its constitutional mandate, there is a malaise among the people that things are not quite going the way they should -- not that they are not going in the right direction, but that the frustration and disappointment with promises not kept has bred skepticism, that if unaddressed does not augur well for the future.

Much of the unease can be directly attributed to what amounts to a virtual collapse in law and order, a proliferation of crime, especially violent crime, that has unnerved the country, put its leaders on the defensive in the face of accusations that it cannot deliver on the first responsibility of government, and added to the untested assumptions of intolerance that poison the well of racial reconciliation.

For what its worth, South Africa has the dubious distinction of being one of the most violent, if not the most violent country in the world.

The rate of crime in South Africa, according to recent research, has increased at double the rate of population over the last four years. Statistics compiled by the South African Police Services (SAPS) indicate that there were approximately 160,000 unsolved murders at the end of 1996 -- over 100,000 more than in 1988. Also, say the police, 94 people out of 100,000 of the population were murdered in 1996, compared with 74 out of 100,000 in 1988.

In France and Germany, the latest comparable figures are; in the US it is eight. South Africa is the world's most murderous country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with an average of 45 per 100,000 people murdered there each year, 800% higher than the world average of 5.5 people per 100,000 for the 122 countries that it studied.

The same pathology can be seen in other trends involving violent crime. In South Africa, there is an assault rate of 840 per 100,000 compared to an international average of 142. The rape figure is 118 out of each 100,000 people, in France it is seven, in Germany fourteen, and in the US forty-one. In other words, a rape occurs in South Africa every 83 seconds. Ironically, given the pervasive perception that apartheid-South Africa was a police-state, country-wide the figure is 2.5 police per 1,000 population in contrast to the international standard which ranges from 3.0 to 5.0 per 1,000.

With the demise of the legal apparatus of apartheid, the South African Police (SAP), renamed the South African Police Service (SAPS), found itself increasingly irrelevant to the maintenance of law and order; increasingly inwardly-looking, not so much out of the need for philosophic introspection to develop a new ethos, as out of a concern to protect its own and put the blinkers on the murky past.

Impaired discipline, a confused sense of identity, an inability to define what it stood for, (once upon a time kicking pure black ass was the stepping-stone to a career full of promise), an inarticulate sense of mission, the collapse of morale, inevitable in the face of far-reaching change in the making, took their toll and practically eliminated much of the SAPS's effectiveness as the crime-fighting agency of the new state.

But, as in all efforts involving attempts to pump massive transfusions of new blood into dying organs, the police, too, find themselves on the same resuscitator. Sometimes, the transfusions are insufficient to stave off the inevitable hemorrhages. Sometimes, the new blood simply won't do the trick. At least one in ten policemen is involved in corruption; some 300 to 400 leave the force every month.

The price the police pay in the face of challenges they are not trained to face, of dangers no longer founded on the ideological certitude of apartheid and the Total Onslaught, of the fragmentation of the tight-bonding based on what are now discredited values, of a camaraderie that was as much a product of fear of exposure as of the conspiratorial allures of unrestrained powers, of demands made which they are simply incapable of meeting, is enormous.

The present holds little hope of role-resolution, has yet, despite intensive training programs, to kindle a sense of a sustainable identity. Indeed, in a paradoxical way, given the exigencies the SAPS is laboring under, would-be applicants should be automatically disqualified.

In the confusion of their own amoral ignorance of what is right and wrong; of the misgivings that erode the top-soil of the super-imposed self-awareness that has become a mandated requirement for understanding their role in a society that is trying desperately to erase the value-system that was their raison det're , they turn inward and look for disciplines they were thought to eviscerate.

Left to the well-meaning rhetoric of their new "superior" superiors who wish to imbue them with principles that they were trained to abhor if they were to care one whittling shit about survival in the asylums of the townships they were supposed to bring order to, they are drowning in the quicksand of their own doomed sense of professional and personal oblivion.

The suicide rate among the SAPS is, like most statistics associated with the darker, more despairing side of South Africa, among the highest in the world. For every 100,000 police personnel in South Africa, 200 commit suicide. The comparable figure for the United States is 22.

Car hijackings are endemic. What has become far more ominous, however, is the degree of violence that accompanies the thefts. People who hand over their cars without the slightest resistance are shot on the spot; people who are unlucky enough to be passengers in cars whose drivers are assaulted at traffic-lights or other locations especially susceptible to hijackings are sometimes found murdered, their bodies dumped into convenient swamps or vacant land-lots.

A few years ago, certain types of routine, some urban areas or specific locations of social unrest could be pinpointed as "most likely" targets of opportunity for would-be hijackers. But no longer. One's own home is no longer a haven. The impact on whites has been traumatic; the psychic effect devastating. Their discovery that fortress-like homes, state-of-the-art security, ten-foot high, unclimbable brick-walls topped by chocolate-like layers of razor wire, seemingly unassailable "cactus" spikes strategically placed to give pause to the most adventurous or entrap the least cautious, the electric wires that stun with their discharge of voltage guard against nothing, offer no protection are Maginot lines preserving illusion.When all is said and done and counted, they are no more than "sitting ducks" all notions of the privacy of the home and fail-proof protection have been eviscerated. Whites have been condemned permanently to being on guard; they are foot-soldiers in the ranks of the "bewarers."

Figures, of course, fall short of giving any understanding of the predatory dimensions of the crime-levels that infest communities across South Africa; they fail to acknowledge that the problem is systemic, that contrary to the conventional wisdom, the sum of the parts never add up; they reduce injury and death to cursory abstractions.

Yet, the figures convey a frightening sense of the underlying malevolence: Close to 750,000 violent crimes, 100,000 car-hijacking (increasing at the rate of 30% a year), and 62,000 armed robberies are reported to the police every year. In other words, an average of 99 serious crimes are committed every hour - one every 35 seconds, a rape every 83 seconds, an armed robbery every seven minutes.

Police investigators solved only 52% of violent crimes, and a meager 26% of the armed robberies; a staggering 200,000 serious crimes remain unsolved. Only one in ten men who are brought to court for rape are convicted, and only one in 20 women who are raped are believed to report the incidents to the police. Estimates put the number of drug syndicates operating in South Africa at 100 or more.

Indeed, the situation is so precarious that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is currently using more troops in police support in the townships than the former South African Defence Force (SADF) had used in Angola at the height of the war there. Combating crime is now the defence force's main task.

Crime has become a national obsession. Nor is it a post-apartheid "white" phenomenon. It cuts across all races, colors and creeds, as much of a concern in rural areas as in urban areas, of the white farmer as the African shack-dweller. Fear of crime permeates everything. It is an incessant topic of conversation. It dominates the air-waves, as people call the talk-shows, vying to out-horror each other with macabre tales of encounters with muggers, car-jackers, thieves, burglars, rapists, and all sorts of assault-with-intent-to-kill types. And while whites are more vociferous in the outcry they raise and are increasingly becoming inmates in security-protected housing enclaves, 80% of the police are deployed in white areas and over 500 of the country's 700 police stations are still located in what are primarily or exclusively white communities.

The stories that make the headlines, are, of course, the stories of the 13% protected by the 80% -- some things do not change. There are hundreds of stories of the mindless preying of the roving gangs that stalk, vulture-like, their vulnerable human quarry who scurry, like frightened rabbits, into what they hope are the burrow-holes of safety. Only some, invariably white, get their three inches of print, and many continue to leave, joining what is euphemistically referred to in the business as the "chicken run.".

The townships are steeped in criminal violence, their residents, especially in the sprawling squatters' camps bear the overwhelming brunt of criminal activity, yet their voices are among the last to be heard. Crime has people changing life-long habits; they no longer walk the streets they live on; they avoid certain areas altogether, even if it means taking a more circuitous route to get from one place to the next; they exude suspicion; wariness has become instinctual; even neighbors are regarded with a caution unheard of in the worst days of apartheid; the world is not to be trusted.

In the more affluent white areas "rape-gates" have become the fashion of the times (many whites, when they go to bed, literally imprison themselves behind locked and well-barricaded iron-barred doors - a thief may ravage their houses, but not their bodies.) The pervasive sense that anything may happen at any time has destroyed people's sense of personal security and their collective sense of living in a safe community.

Perhaps the most telling data regarding the impact of crime, however, relate to the growth of the security industry. Uniformed security officers outnumber the police by about three to one. Listings of security companies run to 16 pages in the Johannesburg Yellow Pages telephone directory. There are about 2,700 private companies in the security business countrywide. These companies employ about 100,000 security officers and are increasingly turning to armed response activities, one bellwether of the extent to which the industry has usurped the state's role in maintaining law and order.

Most devastatingly, knee-jerk crime has reduced the value of human life to a pittance or less. There are no degrees of motive attached to the use of violence; one shoots dead someone as much for a dime as for a million; gender and age have ceased to be considerations; being in the way or just being is a sufficient reason for the snuffing-out of a life; the sight of living appears to justify erasing it. The sheer purposelessness of it all, the intimations of reflex boredom, are beginning to rob violence of its horror; the casualness of the way death is delivered is beginning to be matched by the casualness of the way it is being received. Not that there is any lack of outrage. On the contrary, the victims increasingly take matters into their own hands, and administer savage retribution to would-be culprits who are unlucky enough to get in the way of their inveterate wrath.

Anarchy is gaining its own momentum, and the continuing incapacity of the police to check the avalanches of crime suffocating people on every side has led to a disillusionment with, and disrespect for the rule of law. ( In early 1997, it was discovered that some of President Mandela's security-guards at his Houghton residence, a not-too pretentious dwelling in the affluent suburb, were treating themselves to possessions of his in the adjacent guest-house.)

And as with all problems that do not lend themselves to easy solution, would-be-victims look for the most obvious. Home-owners are drawing-up plans to turn their communities into fortresses, separated from neighboring communities by what would amount to Berlin-type walls.

In the Greater Johannesburg Metropole, the residents of at least eleven suburbs drew-up proposals for building walls in the Sandton, Hurlington, Fourways Extension 12, and Senderwood districts for the sole purpose of trying to hermetically seal themselves off from the ravages of crime. Roads are closed; access and egress, with the necessary security-checks at either end, are in strictly-controlled directions; bollards and guard-railings channel, divert, or otherwise monitor the flow of traffic The entrance to Hurlingnon, for example, has a boom across the road, a 24-hour guard, and a telephone link to each house. It is a measure of the defeat of the authorities that Gauteng safety and security minister Jessie Duarte resignedly acknowleded that "It is not unreasonable to [have people] request that their suburbs be closed off - where it has been done hijackings have decreased dramatically." 115

And thus perhaps one of the final ironies of the repeal of the apartheid laws. In the place of the walls that have supposedly come down between the races, walls designed by law as part of the architecture of apartheid, have come other walls, walls designed by concrete. Where once people colluded in separation in the name of racial purity, they now collude in separation in the name of security as part of the architecture of security. One, of course, has always been a code-word for the other. Apartheid by other names is still apartheid.

According to the South Africa Chamber of business (Sacob), the country's frightening rate of crime and lawless image is deterring foreign investment, and even more disturbing, it is forcing some local firms to close down and others to move to safer locations. Ken Warren, Sacob's director of legal affairs, says that "The perception overseas is that through crime and violence the country is unstable, notwithstanding what has been achieved over the last five years." Or, as economist Tony Twine put it, a little less elegantly, perhaps, but certainly more pithily: "People who want to put money into South Africa want to put people in as well. They don't want to see them go home in body bags."

(According to a survey carried out on behalf of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa, almost two-thirds of its members believe that business confidence is affected by South Africa's high crime rate. Half of the chamber members who responded to the survey had experienced a car hijacking in the past year; 48 per cent had had a burglary, and 27 per cent had experienced an assault on an employee. In the same period 24 per cent had experienced a car hijacking and 48 per cent a vehicle delivery hijacking.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents felt the level of policing was inadequate, with 80 per cent saying the service of the police was poor. On South Africa's political climate, 83 per cent described it as volatile, 84 per cent said progress to political maturity was slow; only 13 per cent thought it was "quite fast."

What is happening is not untypical of what happens when the lid of repression is lifted in any society which has been governed through repression. In South Africa, the result has been an explosion in the crime rate since the collapse of apartheid has been accompanied by a simultaneous breakdown in law enforcement and in the morale of the police. "You had an illegitimate government," says Lloyd Vogelman, director of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, "that could not provide for any kind of moral authority over why there should not be crime. People felt that they could justify crime on the basis of politics, but frequently the kind of crime carried out in the name of politics was just basic thuggery."

Once again, old habits are hard to break. The new government, no matter how legitimate in the eyes of the people, has to contend with the same old problems: unemployment, easy access to cheap weapons ( an AK -47 can routinely be purchased for under $30.00 ); the continued breakdown of law-enforcement, and, in the townships a continued lack of trust in the police, whose job had been to enforce apartheid, not to protect citizens. What, after all, is one to expect from the same old faces in the same old uniforms? What is the difference between the South African Police (SAP) and the South African Police Services (SAPS), other than a euphemistic change in emphasis, despite the high-minded incantations about community policing and the like?

Not that the new SAPS is closed to change. On the contrary, two years after the abolition of apartheid, nearly 25% of the country's brigade staff in the SAPS had quit or been forced to quit; golden handshakes cost taxpayers tensof millions of rands. In the year following the election in April'94, 217 police officers retired, 196 on grounds of health. They included 15 major-generals and lieutenant-generals, 12 of whom retired for reasons of ill-health; 25 majors, 55 lieutenant-colonels, 66 colonels, 38 brigadiers, 11 major generals and one lieutenant-general. Among whites, apartheid created a society, carefully calibrated along racial lines, artfully organized, to preclude feelings of guilt. But this, in turn, created a poisonous counterpoint. Because the oppressed in time are inured with the indifference of the oppressor. They become partners in suppression, inebriated with the numbness of the same guiltlessness. Apartheid endured because its proponents were willing to employ brutal and inhumane measures to ensure its survival. Apartheid was destroyed because its opponents were willing to use brutal and inhumane measures to ensure its annihilation. The heartlessness of one became in time matched by the heartlessness of the other.

At the heart of oppression is collusion between oppressor and oppressed, some awfulness, an unbearable commonality of non-being, a shared requiem of non-redemption. Once both sides succumb to the allures brutalization entices, desistance is impossible; rationalization becomes a matter of fruitless self-discourse. Once oppressed and oppressor submit to the exigencies of brutality, they can feel no remorse. Because remorse induces madness, a psychic crack-up that leaves one beyond spiritual repair, in perpetual abeyance from oneself - and with the good grace of God permanently extirpated, each looks to the hideous-power one can exercise over the other, each promiscuously earns his mother-lode of savage callousness off the spade-work of the other, each becomes enmeshed in the symmetry of the centrifugal forces that bind them in their atrocities, each incarcerates the other in the prism of mutual containment, forever bonded through hatred or forgiveness - the difference between the two becomes at some point pointlessly irrelevant.

The mathematical dynamics of violence are almost grotesquely simple: Brutality is a learned behavior. But when the practitioners of brutality become indifferent to their own practices, prisoners of the lassitude of endless repetition, the practices, like bad habits, become addictive; and the greater the addiction, the more tempting the inclination to excess. In the end, all habits consume, yielding to the intemperate dispositions that harden the heart and destroy compassion.

Anger is the one emotion both oppressor and oppressed go to exceeding lengths to conceal, the one because of the need to justify oppression on some moral basis, the other not to forfeit what is left of his dignity, since the withholding of anger is the one emotion the oppressor cannot rob the oppressed of.

But anger permeates the lives of the oppressed, leaving in its wake its concealments, its passive-aggressiveness, the cloud-tunnels of passing frenzies of despair, tornadoes of rage, grievances twisting in the winds of century-old discontents, anger at once magnificent and dangerous, at once perilous and exhilarating: The realities of the ending of oppression can never compensate for the damage oppression inflicts.

When the boomlets of rejoicing and exuberance that follow political emancipation peter out in disappointment as they invariably do - and a desolation for which there is no remedy takes hold with the knowledge that there is no Messiah, no hope of the innumerable injuries of the past being redressed, the dams that held and channeled anger simply collapse, and the pent-up anger, free at last, sweeps everything aside, destroying whatever lies in its path. And to a very large extent, crime, brutal and casual, is a simple and logical outcome. Indeed, for South Africa, caught between the contradictions of so many countervailing worlds, survival is a message of success.

But the soul of the country is in trouble. Indeed, it is ironic that despite its many-acclaimed successes in the last three years - and there are many - the spiritual myth that transmogrified the apartheid-era, the cohesive and seamless beingnness that connected the immense diversity that is the hallmark of the many South Africas is gone, or is at the very least dormant.

National police commissioner George Fivaz at a workshop attended by the police chiefs of eleven southern African countries told his peers that crime in the region had reached alarming proportions and was threatening to "ruthlessly rip our civilized world apart."

His analysis of the causes for the spiraling levels of crime in South Africa was conspicuous for the absence of reference to apartheid. Instead, he singled out the smuggling of firearms into South Africa, the increasing international trade in illegal firearms originating from, among others, former eastern bloc countries, and abundantly available in South Africa's neighboring countries, illegal immigration, which was also tied in with organized crime, and led to an increase in the already intense competition for scarce resources.

And also, to an "absence of norms and values."

A further component of the problem is emerging and is cause for concern: the police, law and order agencies, enforcement bodies, and the court-system all think considerable, albeit not enough progress, is being made, and that crime and the associated problems it brings are being brought under control. The public do not. Its perceptions of the problem and the SACP's analysis are at increasing variance, and thus, the increasing friction between the two and the general disparagement of the police, and derisory disbelief when the police say things are getting better, or have at worst stabilized.


But to put matters in perspective, corruption, mismanagement and fraud amounting to an estimated $66 billion was being uncovered by a special investigative unit under the direction of Judge Willem Heath.116 Over 90,000 cases of fraud, corruption, and maladministration at different government levels had been reported by the end of August 1998. South Africa, said Heath was engulfed in a "culture of corruption,"117 an echo of Mbeki's gentle reminder to delegates at the renaissance that a renaissance was not going to happen while corruption permeated the daily life of the continent's – including South Africa's – public and private sectors.

Transparency International's index of corruption puts South Africa 33 rd of the 52 "most corrupt" countries in the world.118 Of the cases examined in its Profile on Corruption and Good Governance, Transparency International-South Africa found that of the 510 cases reported by the media and analysed by their researchers more than half focused on corruption in the public sector, 16 per cent focused on corruption in the private sector, 15 per cent affected both the public and private sectors, and 4 per cent involved civil society. Most disturbingly, the Safety and Security Department was implicated in 19 per cent of all public corruption cases and the SAPS in 30 per cent of cases implicating government agencies.

At one point the government used to respond to accusations of corruption with a standard: "It used to be worse under the apartheid regime, only it was covered up, and we were left with a legacy of corruption in the homelands and the former TVBC states." But it soon became apparent that there was "new" corruption, and that some of the "comrades" were not beyond lining their own pockets, that raiding the public coffers was one habit they had picked up from the old order, and a habit they were in no great hurry to kick. Which brought the government face-to-face with the incipient collapse of the social fabric, of the disregard for the social values that were the underpinning of good governance and the prerequisite for the consolidation of a democracy that was tentative at best, and a sham at worst. While not many doubted that the constitution stood as a model of prudence and probity, it was also clear that if the values promulgated by the constitution were ignored and the laws passed by parliament flouted at will, the constitution was out of touch with the people or the people were out of touch with the constitution.

A measure of the government's concern was its decision to call for an anti-corruption summit that would bring together more than 200 delegates representing national, provincial and local government, the private sector, organizations of civil society, labor, religious organizations and academics to discuss "real case studies" in areas such as government procurement, the criminal justice system, local government service delivery, and come up with "practical"solutions. This would be no "talking shop."


The ANC, says Alec Erwin, had overestimated the capacity of the government to effect change, hence the short changing on delivery.119 But there is another dimension to change more fundamental than the capacity of the government – the capacity of the society itself to absorb change. In a moment of heartening honesty – or disheartening, if you had succumbed to the visions of the virtuous state that "massive transformation would give birth to – as the admission by Shepard Mdladlana, the new Minister of Labour, that the country itself was ill-prepared for the massive restructuring taking place in the economy.

Moving from commodity-based exports to more value-added exports required a different labor force than the one being retrenched in the mines and other industries. Even in sectors such as construction, he said, skill shortfalls were expected to become critical as construction activity grew to keep pace with development demand. Hence "old-fashioned planning simply hopeless in today's world."120

Transformation requires the skills that enable transformation to take place. In the absence of those skills, transformation will either proceed slowly and inefficiently or not at all, but the supply of those depends on a sufficient level of transformation having already taken place before there can be any accelerated leap-forward. And thus, again the vicious cycle south Africa finds itself endlessly enmeshed in. To effect "massive transformation, it must develop an initial skills base to serve as the jumping-off point. But without the resource to acquire the skills that bring you to the take-off point, there is no take-off, thus ensuring that the resources you need to accumulate to get to that point never materialize. Stalemate or checkmate?

But at some point, to resort to using the rationale that the necessity to eliminate the legacy of apartheid is the sine qua non for every decision becomes counterproductive. Not only does it perpetuate a victim syndrome, it inculcates powerlessness and becomes a convenience for excusing failure, incompetence, inadequate performance, and social breakdown, and implies that South Africa should be held to different standards of accountability, and hence treated differently, because of its horrific past.

South Africa should not overdo the constant evocation of the "horrific past." While the crimes of apartheid were indeed horrific, and the suffering and degradation it inflicted on millions will always stand as a never-to-be -forgotten reminder of man's inhumanity to man, they should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the evils of apartheid pale in comparison to other instances of man's inhumanity to man not only in this century, but in Africa itself.


Emile Durkeim's concept of anomie

On 22 October 1998, the leaders of South Africa's religious communities and political parties gathered in Johannesburg for a Morals Summit to address what church leaders spoke of as the despair permeating many segments of South African society, and the need for spiritual and moral renewal.121 They speak of the collapse of the moral fabric.122 Police Commissioner George Fivaz attributes the disregard for the law and the prevalence of rampant crime to "the absence of norms and values."123 Deputy President Thabo Mbeki himself had earlier called for some kind of 'moral summit.'124

"Something has gone terribly wrong," says Judge Lucy Mailula, "It seems there has been a collapse of moral fibre. Maybe the new freedom is being interpreted in the wrong way."125

All in their own way were struggling to put their fingers on the same thing. That "thing" is anomie.126

Anomie refers to a disconcerting condition in society where norms and values no longer control the behavior of people. Anomie is caused by the need to adjust to changing conditions and the difficulty people have without clear rules to guide them. Rules on how people ought to behave with each other break down and people do not know what to expect from one another.

Sudden changes from a regulated to a deregulated society bring about the highest levels of anomie. People lose their sense of being subject to accepted and binding social norms and codes. Anomie feeds our sense of anguish and despair, our sense of purposelessness, as we struggle to find meaning in the new and seemingly bottomless cauldron of being into which we have been thrown, and as we free fall, we reach out for some anchor, some mooring to which we can attach ourselves and reconcile ourselves to a new paradigm of values. For many, anomie expresses itself in a consuming longing for the past , for the safety of a world of known and acknowledged values, for the security of knowing and accepting one's position in the hierarchy of society.

South Africa is subsumed in anomie. With the demise of apartheid, the "rules "of 40 years were consigned to the rubbish bin of history. What had been entrenched as dogma by the privileged was simply dismissed as the propaganda of venal men by the newly empowered. At most levels of society, the certainties that were the norm were eviscerated; the relationships between black and whites were transmogrified, sometimes even reversed; in the name of transformation the old order was eased out, sometimes with a harshness that caught many of its adherents off -guard; the unsettling became the common; the uncertain the only certainty, the uneven and often contradictory signals from the new elite, as they too sought to reconcile irreconcilables, a frustrating exercise in trying to divine their intentions.

The country was moving in a new direction, and while whites were at the receiving end of much of the transformations simultaneously ploughing their way toward the light at the end of their respective tunnels, sometimes the tunnels themselves collapsed, and sometimes the tracks were derailed, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel was the light of another train approaching at the same break-neck speed.

With so many trains crowding the tracks, with engineers of varying experience and expertise in the driver's seat, some drivers hurling along at full-steam, some chugging along at a rather leisurely pace, and some still at the station waiting for the station master to raise the flag for departure, with all ostensibly heading in the same direction but with switching guards only sporadically at the switching points, collisions were unavoidable.

But inevitable: an inevitable part of the journey, of the process of change itself, leaving not only whites, but blacks unsure of the present, apprehensive of the future, and uncertain as to where the country was heading. Roles had changed, but role-players had not adopted to the changing roles. Attitudes were questioned, but those who led the questioning were often themselves prisoners of the attitudes that underpinned their questioning. Values were put under a microscope, but sometimes the persons with the microscopes did not know how to use them, and sometimes they made incorrect diagnoses. White anomie has not shaped itself in a void; black anomie is as prevalent, though of a qualitatively different kind. Blacks and whites are struggling to find themselves and each other. And, as in all struggles, there were victims, some casualties of design, some casualties of accident.

(What is one to make, for example, of the situation the South African Football Association (SAFA) was faced with when it discovered, thanks to bone X-rays, that 17 of the players in the under-14 inter-provincial championships in Durban were over-age. "Our initial investigations," SAFA president Molefi Oliphant, himself a former school teacher, reported, "suggest that all these boys who claimed to be under 14 were helped by their parents or guardians". "My biggest concern," he said, "is the kind of kids we are bringing -up – we are telling them there is nothing wrong with cheating."127).

When President Mandela opened the morals'summit, he summarized the state of the nation:

We only knew that the social transformation of our country could not be separated from its spiritual transformation. And that at the very moment when a sense of community, tolerance and concern for one another could reinforce welcome social change, we were witnessing the stark reality of a past that had corroded the moral fabric of our society.

[This conference] brings together the two spheres of life most intimately and essentially involved in the generation, sustenance and observance of the values by which we relate to one another.

It is not necessary to rehearse the ways in which the inhuman system under which we lived so long undermined and eroded respect for one another and for life itself. That apartheid was a sin and encouraged sinful behaviour is no longer a matter of debate.

The symptoms of our spiritual malaise are only too familiar.

They include the extent of corruption in both public and private sector, where office and positions of responsibility are treated as opportunities for self-enrichment; the corruption that occurs withinour justice system; violence in interpersonal relations and families, in particular the shameful record of abuse of women and children; and the extent of evasion of tax and refusal to pay for services used.

It is a measure of how far this rot has spread that we do even find in the religious community individuals who associate with themselves with or abet crime; tax immorality; or abuse of women and children.

It was to be expected, given our past, that we would encounter problems of this kind, but not, I believe, how great they would be. Nor that it would be as difficult to mobilise our society in an united effort to eradicate the problems.

Government has given the highest priority to combating these evils. Uneven though progress has been, and though all these things continue to occur at totally unacceptable levels, we can speak with confidence of turning the tide. And to the extent that we can do so, it is because sectors of our society and communities, including religious institutions, have begun to reaffirm the moral value which are the condition of any decent society.

Having come into government with the declared intention of eliminating the corruption we knew to be endemic, we have in the past four years found that some individuals who fought for freedom have also proved corrupt.

Nor should our apartheid past be used as an excuse for such misdemeanours.128

Isaiah Berlin's two concepts of freedom

And they struggled in other ways, too. Isaiah Berlin, probably the pre-eminent scholar of the history of ideas, wrote a famous article in 1958 entitled Two Concepts of Liberty. In it he describes two concepts of freedom.129 Negative freedom means individual freedom from government interference. In this sense government is only necessary to protect individuals' from interfering with each other's freedom. Positive freedom, on the other hand, means freedom to participate in the process of collective self-governance. These concepts of freedom, Berlin suggests, stand for "two profoundly divergent and irreconcilable attitudes to the ends of life, the one describing a citizenry which is happiest when left alone, the other a citizenry happiest when part of a collective.130

Berlin further argues that " it is essential to strike a balance between them because each of them has a right to be classed among the deepest interests of mankind."

In terms of South Africa, the paradigm that Berlin describes is, in many respects, an apt framework to understand the dynamics that underlie black and white behavior in the new dispensation.

Whereas under the old order, whites were strict adherents of positive freedom, albeit in a limited and fractured form, blacks were active advocates and practitioners of negative freedom, wanting only to be left alone to pursue their individual interests, unfettered by the regulation of the state. Hence the fault line between the two races. Today, under the new dispensation, the paradigm has reversed itself. Whites now wish to pursue their interests unfettered by the regulations of the state, and whereas before they had embraced a state that exercised almost total control over every aspect of their loves, they now are the staunchest advocates of a state that is minimalist: committed only to government that is subject to the principles of free market capitalism, private property, and non-interference in the lives of the citizenry. Public authority is regarded as unwholesome and unwelcome.

Blacks, however, have turned the proverbial 180 degrees. They want collective participation at all levels of governance; public authority is seen as being synonymous with their new found freedom. Interference is not only welcomed but demanded.

With both blacks and whites holding not only different, but diametrically opposing perception s of what the process of transformation is all about, the country's political and constitutional processes are at interminable odds. Every little difference on a policy issue becomes a matter of life or death. Any concession that would appear to benefit your opponent is seen as an affirmation of what your opponent's perceptions of what 1994 was all about. On the one hand, the ANC came into power with the promise of positive freedom for blacks – maximum participation at all levels of governance. On the other hand, whites "surrendered" power on the understanding that the Constitution provided the maximum protections for negative freedom.

Hence two impossible-to-reconcile visions of where the country was heading. Hence the absence of consensus among blacks and whites on policy matters, the deepening polarization between the two groups, as each sees the other as trying to deny it the legitimacy of its concept of freedom, and hence the stereotyping that plays into each community's fears: that blacks are not committed to democracy but to a highly centralized one party state, that whites are obstructionists, intent on maintaining the status quo and the much-maligned privileges of apartheid.

What whites see as principled opposition i.e. that it is the duty of an opposition party to find fault with every piece of intended legislation and to oppose it outright or at the very least to amend it so as to reflect more adequately the interests of its constituency or to allay their fears, blacks see opposition, especially when they have the numbers to pass the legislation in any form it likes, provided that it does not infringe upon the provisions of the constitution as being little more than a delaying tactic, intended to postpone indefinitely the changes the inevitability of the passage of the legislation will entail. In short, opposition for the sake of opposition, which is of course one of the hallmark characteristics of a functioning democracy.

Except for the occasional matter of "the national interest'" parties in opposition to government oppose what the government parties wish to legislate; not to do so, would, in the opposition's view be a dereliction of their responsibilities as an opposition i.e. an alternative government, part of building the constituency for it becoming the governing party in a future depends on its ability to "expose" the inadequacies of the present government, which is why democracy is so inefficient, messy, and seemingly so petty at the best of times.

But when the governing parties never see the opposition parties as alternative governments, or governments-in-waiting, then they reduced to the dubious status of being little more than representatives of "privileged" sectional interests, not national interests. And since their counter-proposals will never be enacted into law since the parties doing the proposing will never be governing parties, they are the more readily dismissed, since they have never to be judged in terms of their possible appeal to a majority of voters and the even more remote possibility that the voters might at some future point in time vote for the parties advocating counter proposals or promising to repeal existing legislation or amend it in some way because they appeal to majority sentiment.

What further obfuscates the process in South Africa is the fact that the present dispensation did not replace a totalitarian state where parliament had never existed, parliamentary procedures never followed, portfolio committees unheard of , opposition voices stifled, parliamentary votes unobserved, elections not held. On the contrary, all of these niceties of democracy were followed with a thoroughness and diligence that belied their irrelevance, the minutiae of procedure were adhered to with what in other circumstances would be regarded as comic obedience to detail.

The fault lay, not with the processes of the system itself, with its lack of representivity, its being the preserve of the few, of its exclusivity, of its being the instrument to dominate the majority, of its limitedness. Under the rules that prevailed in the colonial era, it could be reasonably argued that the Union of South Africa which came into being in 1910, was more democratic than its colonial neighbors, insofar that at least some of the citizenry enjoyed the democratic right to vote for a government of their choosing, whereas their neighbors were "ruled" through the administrative instruments of their respective imperial master and "rights" were confined to colonizers and their descendants.

Robert Putnam's theory that the successful evolution of civic traditions is what makes democracy work

In Making Democracy Work, Robert Putnam analyses what happened in Italy when the Italian government transferred almost 80 per cent of the national budget from the central government to the regional and local governments.131 He concludes that the only really certain indicator of the potential effectiveness of government at a given level is the number of clubs, social organizations, unions, and the like per thousand head of population. In short, what counts is the density of the institutional fabric within a community. The more dense the institutional fabric per unit of population, the more effective the governmental unit which had jurisdiction over the people in the area in question. Horizontal structures.

According to Putnam, well-developed institutional fabric is, itself, the manifestation of value systems and horizontal relationships within the community in question.

Mutual trust, respect and co-operation between people within a community result in societal structures and arrangements which facilitate economic activity and good government, and "empower" the individual;

i.e economic development does not generate a strong social fabric, rather it would appear that a strong social fabric is a precursor for economic development.

Unwittingly, we may have been putting the cart before the horse.

Such "healthy" social structures, he points out, have to be distinguished from other structures – vertical structures in which individuals rely not so much on themselves but on "authorities" above them and on cheating or using "the system" to their own advantage. This type of arrangement invariably results in patronage, clientism, dependency and inefficiency – poor governance and social fragmentation:

In areas of Italy long subjected to autocratic rule [he writes] the absence of a community sense resulted from a habit of insubordination learned from centuries of oppression.

Even the nobles had become accustomed to obstruction, and thought that governments could be fairly cheated without moral obliquity so long as the cheating was successful…

Instead of recognising that taxes had to be paid, the attitude was rather that if one group had discovered a profitable evasion, then the other groups had better look to their own interests.

Each province, each class, each industry thus endeavoured to gain at the expense of the community.

If one were to extrapolate Putnam's findings to a South Africa context, the conclusions are less than reassuring. Emerging from 300 years of colonialism and over 40 years of apartheid, blacks find themselves without the kind of institutional framework Putnam speaks of.

Apartheid, with the state-mandated race classification the arbiter of only resort, ruled and determined every aspect of one's life from birth to death, from where one could live to where one could be buried, to where and how one could be educated to where and how one could work, from whom one could marry to whom one could eat with, from whom one could talk with to whom one could ride with. Apartheid, in order to survive, demanded autocratic rule; indeed, autocratic rule, government by decree was the life-blood of apartheid.

For decades black organizations of any kind were banned; the first black trade unions were not legalized until 1979132, organized gatherings of blacks under any rubric were restricted, and the all-pervasive security organs of the state either disrupted or infiltrated anything that smacked of two or more blacks getting together to discuss anything more contentious than the week's soccer standings –and even these discussions warranted observation.

In the world of the Total Onslaught, the most innocuous of opinions could come back to haunt you, nothing escaped its omnipresent tentacles, nothing was too trivial to be dismissed, too worthless not to merit special attention. In these circumstances, an authoritarian government under the mantle of a National Management Security System organized for the very purpose of being able to infiltrate and "manage" every crevice of civil society; where "cheating" on the government was regarded as an act of struggle defiance; where the withholding of rents and rates and non-payment for municipal services were acts sanctioned by the liberation movement – an amorphous body at best with so many of its body parts either in detention or banned or in exile; where street committees of the "comrades" dispensed "justice" without remorse or regard for any form of due process; where the demarcation between gangster and liberation honcho was a matter of semantics; where all rules, not just the rule of law, had become irrelevant, of neither consequence or value; where black city councilor's were burned out of their homes and gruesomely murdered; where to be fingered as an informer depended on nothing more substantial than a rumor, and the hideous "punishment" of being "necklaced" a public spectacle that broke-up the monotony of an otherwise boring afternoon; where activists were summarily abducted, tortured and murdered in the most macabre,

unimaginable ways as a matter of routine; where the superiors of state criminals turned a blind eye to their nefarious activities and even giving them the most judicious benefit of the doubt, at the very least , condoned them, the notions of mutual respect, co-operation, trust, were abstractions, ideas belonging to the realm of another world, beyond their borders and their imaginations. Authority ruled, whether the authority of the autocratic and power-devoured state, or the authority of the amorphous liberation movement, operating with rules designed to deal with whatever circumstances it was faced; both imposed their "rule" with impunity on the townships; and both were authoritarianism in that neither was accountable to any one.

Which in the end is what both the apartheid state and the liberation movement had in common –a lack of accountability for their actions, and with that license the horrors that crawl out of the innermost recesses of our being tested the waters of darkness and found they could swim.

South Africa's "miracle" in 1994 was a miracle only in the sense that elections were held without the violence that had been widely forecast, and that its outcome was accepted by all sides. It was in no way a "miracle" in the sense of being some milestone heralding "good" democratic governance. But that realization was to come later. If Putnam's model of what distinguishes good government from bad is valid – and no one yet has being able to challenge his conclusions or his methodology with the intellectual rigor he brings to his work – then the challenges South Africa faces to consolidate its democracy at all levels is far more complicated and complex than it was previously thought. Especially so, in the more rural provinces – Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, the North West Province and the Northern Province – which also faced the added challenge of incorporating much of the former homelands and TVBC states into their territories.

It is not overly surprising that these provinces have the poorest administrations, the highest incidences of corruption, are beset by budget difficulties, and in many cases find themselves saddled with inept, inefficient, ineffective and bankrupt local governments, which are simply not working, have little idea of how to work, have no capacity to deliver, and no political will to do so. Nor is it surprising that these provinces and their smaller administrative units are devoid of institutional "density," and in many cases lack the basic ingredients of civil society.

(The Northern Province, the poorest and most rural – only 12 per cent of the population live in urban areas compared to 96 per cent in Gauteng -- has a "civil society" problem of a different making. For millions of South Africans belief in the existence of witchcraft is deeply -ingrained. Academic research has found that up to 80 per cent of rural people believe that witches have the power to command lightening bolts. People who believe this and other practices attributed to witches i.e the casting of spells, causing the death of cattle, are quick to mete out punishment to those they suspect of being witches. In rural South Africa, scores of hapless women have been accused of being witches and put to the torch, many others have been expelled from their villages. In the Northern Province alone, where the "hunt" for witches has assumed almost obsessive proportions, some 442 witch-related crimes were reported to police in the first six months of 1998. So alarming had the problem become that the provincial government convened a 5 day conference to try and come up with concrete measures to fight witchcraft related violence. Among its recommendations was a proposal that witchcraft related violence should be declared a national priority as this was regarded as crucial to the issue receiving the prominence it deserved).133

At one point the government used to respond to accusations of corruption with a standard: "It used to be worse under the apartheid regime, only it was covered up, and we were left with a legacy of corruption in the homelands and the former TVBC states." But it soon became apparent that there was "new" corruption, and that some of the "comrades" were not beyond lining their own pockets, that raiding the public coffers was one habit they had picked up from the old order, and a habit they were in no great hurry to kick. Which brought the government face-to-face with the incipient collapse of the social fabric, of the disregard for the social values that were the underpinning of good governance and the prerequisite for the consolidation of a democracy that was tentative at best, and a sham at worst. While not many doubted that the constitution stood as a model of prudence and probity, it was also clear that if the values promulgated by the constitution were ignored and the laws passed by parliament flouted at will, the constitution was out of touch with the people or the people were out of touch with the constitution.

A measure of the government's concern was its decision to call for an anti-corruption summit that would bring together more than 200 delegates representing national, provincial and local government, the private sector, organizations of civil society, labor, religious organizations and academics to discuss "real case studies" in areas such as government procurement, the criminal justice system, local government service delivery, and come up with "practical"solutions. This would be no "talking shop."

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.