Something’s Rotten in South Africa and what can we do about it

This piece is meant as superficial report born out of personal but not exactly extensive experience. I don’t pretend to know all the facts, but rather intend to open a debate and offer perspective. Much in this report is negative, however being here in South Africa I have experienced much reason for a positive future, which I will cover further down.

After Nelson Mandela and his friends freed the county of the Apartheid regime, South Africa was supposed to thrive and become the great country everyone felt it should be.

The goals of Nelson Mandela as he repeatedly vowed in 1994 to legislators in 1994, “is a ‘people-centered society.’ The government’s aims are nothing less than freedom from want, freedom from hunger, freedom from deprivation, freedom from ignorance, freedom from suppression and freedom from fear.

“we owe a commitment to the poor, the oppressed, the wretched and the despised”

Instead the country has seemingly done the reverse.

It has become a near complete socialistic country without the benefits of one.

Over-taxation and bureaucracy comparable to the worst countries in the “free” Western Culture.

South Africa’s income tax highest rate is at 45% and comparable to the most taxed countries in Europe who practice Democratic Socialism (whatever that is supposed to mean) like Germany and Belgium. Only in Germany no one or nearly no one lives below the poverty food level.

In South Africa you have 13 Million people living below the so called food poverty level or 22 % of the population. That is means they have less than R624 per month. For Europeans and Americans. That is about 36 EUR / USD per month. 36 EUR / USD per month is less than what I pay for a meal in some restaurants here.

The average wage in the first economy (regular jobs in cities) lies at R23.000 or about 1.267 EUR

The country is according to statistics the 3rd most crime-ridden in the world after Venezuela and Papua New Guinea.

The country used to have with ESKOM the best electricity providing company in the world. In 2002 they were rewarded as the global power company of the year. As of the 26. September in 2022, we have already have 91 days of blackouts in the year 2022. Just for comparison, that would put them in position 5 for the country with the most blackouts in a single year. Probably putting ESKOM into the list of the worst power-providing companies in the world. All the while ESKOM is paying the highest wages in all of South Africa with an average of R468,033 per year. (Depending on which website you check you get different figures, however ESKOM uniformly is found in the top 10)

The condition of education in the country is the sad and a prime source of these terrible conditions. There are 12 official languages in South Africa with English being the chosen one for communication in government and most companies. But only 8 % of the population speak English at home. Sadly, only 30 % of the people taught English at schools speak it.

This is resulting in a large exodus of South Africans moving abroad. People are talking of a brain-drain, where top talents and wealthier people are leaving the country.

This are changing

While this sounds only negative, I have seen a fair share of positive things. I have seen hundreds of priests visiting seminars teaching about the tools of life, that they can share with their parish.

And 100s of governmental workers and teachers showing up to events on how to improve their skills for work.

And repeatedly. Week after week.

These are people coming voluntarily, because they disagree with what is happening and they want their lives to improve, just like Nelson Mandela envisioned, when he freed Africa.

My personal wish for South Africa would be to implement some “simple” solutions – which would make it probably the best country to live in world-wide:

Take law and order seriously

Temporarily make the punishment for criminality so draconian that people don’t dare commit crimes. A friend reported to me that after an employee was caught stealing and subsequently apprehended with video evidence, he was let go a few days later. This cannot happen in a country that is suffering from criminality.

Once criminality drops and production increases, draconian measures can be laxed.

Provide day-to-day jobs

With the amount of people under the food poverty level here in South Africa, it is necessary to provide relief.

Giving people handouts doesn’t make productive members of society. It teaches people to hold out their hands for more or to beg. The country is already full of professional beggars. No need to make more.

Instead one should provide jobs where people can get money easily, even if only working for a day or two.

Cleaning streets, picking up trash from nature, planting trees, working fields and many, many other activities can be started to provide people with simple jobs where they can earn a little bit of money. This should be funded by the government.

Lower taxes

High taxes are only needed when the government is inefficient and they burden people financially unnecessarily.

High taxes motivate productive and rich people to leave the countries, or just to pay no tax somehow.

Instead improve productivity. If you halve the tax and double the productivity, you have the same amount of tax. AND the people are doing better.

People who have more money can also provide for more family members. Africans tend to take care of their extended family, even when the government doesn’t.

Welcome friendly foreigners

Make it easier for people to come join the crusade to make South Africa a great place to live.

An intelligent and skilled person like myself or other highly skilled people from Europe, who are looking for a life outside of Europe are not able to easily live in South Africa. The process is too long and complicated.

These people can be used to import skills from abroad that are missing in South Africa.

People who do come here are people working for corporations and they only stay for a short period of time.

It should be easy and attractive to start businesses here and to live and work here.

Wouldn’t if be a win-win situation, if a highly skilled German craftsman fleeing from war and oppression in Europe, started a successful business with German standards here and trained locals how to build beautiful houses, furniture, mechanical machines, precision machines and so on.

Teach English at a younger age

People should be motivated to speak English. Instead of having an extensive curriculum with too many lessons on sciences or other advanced lessons that most people anyhow forget, more time should be put into learning English.

Speaking with one another is the core of society. When all members can easily talk with another, agreement can be achieved. In the absence of communication there can be no agreement.

School systems are bloated with unimportant subjects. Moving children to advanced Mathematics before they master arithmetics and calculating percentage is folly.

Giving them more and more to learn when they are still struggling with English is just as folly.

Maintain the African Way

Every country has it’s culture that makes it unique. It is the identity of a nation.

Instead of copying Europe and the United States in music, governmental policy and other things, South Africa has to go it’s own way.

Looking at the scene in Europe and United States easily shows that their systems of society is not much better and even degenerating quickly. Why copy a failing country.

My Role

As you noticed in the title, I used the word “we”.

Being here I have seen abject states of human conditions but also unique people who are spiritually free and just want to lead a happy life. People who strive for another kind of life than that that is preached in Western Culture.

In my observation, this country does have the potential to balance the materialistic endeavors of the Northern Hemisphere.

I therefore see a part of my future here in South Africa helping this country. Not with handouts, but helping people with education and building businesses here.

I believe the South Africans have all the potential to make this a great country.

Wouldn’t that be cool?