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Consequences of Destroying the Social Contract

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 14, 2021 16:24

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Over the last week South Africa has experienced unprecedented public violence. Those who have been exploiting division, destroying public institutions, looting public coffers must bear responsibility. America, note what happens when the law becomes a political football, when trust in public institutions are eroded, when division becomes political practise.

Even before ex-President Jacob Zuma was arrested for contempt of court there were warnings from some of his followers that violence would follow.

A flashback: South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Mandela, went out of his way to build the 'rainbow nation', develop trust in public institutions, and promote the rule of law. He went as far as to present himself to Court to answer allegations against his administration.

His successors were not hewn of that rock. Politics designed to play one group of the population off against the other, to hollow out police and security measures in order to avoid criticism became common. 

Jacob Zuma presided over an administration that saw massive amounts of money disappearing, swindled into ever-deepening black holes. An example: A fuel levy, instituted by the Apartheid Regime to improve the road network, then repurposed to pay for the war in Angola, was progressively increased to pay for budget shortfalls, while tolls were instituted to pay for the road improvements. Unfortunately, a majority of the toll fees go to overseas administrators and to bloated administration. 

The last two years saw daily television drama as the Zondo Commission, set up by President Zuma, heard evidence of politically connected nomenklatura diverting massive amounts of public money into various schemes, even to a monthly off-budget allowance to the President himself. No state-owned enterprise is viable today, not the national airline, not the national power utility, not the Agricultural Research Council, if we have to believe the allegations made before the Commission. 

The violence that broke out after the arrest of Zuma took the police and intelligence community by surprise, and only a week later would we see effective state action to regain control. Do read the accompanying article for a trauma fix. An esteemed journalist wrote an editorial entitled Is This What a Failed State Looks Like? Do read it, dear reader, and ask for whom the bell tolls. 

Car transporter burnt in protest on national road. Photo public domain https://www.facebook.com/reinhard.raschke.1

A brilliant article by a young journalist sums up the despair, the frustration that led to ordinary people pillaging shopping malls, ransacking public infrastructure, looting those who serve the community. He quotes a looter: "... people in high office in government are stealing billions, so who will stop them 'eating whatever they find in a basket'?" His article eloquently describes the very failures of government to create the social contract needed to make the state successful.

In the absence of government reaction, communities took to the streets. Vigilante groups, ethnically mixed and from all economic strata, in defiance of divisive politics, protected shopping malls and neighborhood infrastructure. People rushed to donate to charity groups, to deliver food to isolated people.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for every nation that engages in divisive politics, in destroying the independence of public institutions, in setting individuals above the law.

America, Great Britain, are you listening?

 

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on July 14, 2021 16:24

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Source: Daily Mail

Jacob Zuma's son has urged looters to 'do so responsibly' and called for his father to be freed after South Africa's lawlessness...

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