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Triumph of Capitalism

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on February 12, 2021 15:37

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Labels are much in vogue, and we often hear that Capitalism is the cure for all economic problems. However, when politicians, the very institutions of the State, come up for the state, it is perhaps time to reconsider what we mean when we attach labels to policies or aspects of policies.

The traffic policeman was all smiles. Days after the Government of Zimbabwe decided to re-introduce their own currency, he stopped a vehicle and took out his citation book. ‘You broke the speed limit. But do not worry, we are open for business. 25 US Dollars will make the problem go away.’

Ever wondered how a country described in the time as the breadbasket of Southern Africa, with some of the highest producing sugar and maize fields in the world, with gold and diamonds, could be among the poorest in the world? Where 67% of the population live in poverty, two million in extreme poverty, where one in three children are malnourished?

One of the first indicators is that the 2018 Auditor-General’s report noted that 82% of government expenditure had some form of financial irregularity. A recent report in the South African Daily Maverick concluded that criminal business cartels are in league with political structures, to the extent that illicit cross-border transactions cost the country up to $3 billion per year and up to $1.5 billion in gold is smuggled out of the country every year.

This is chillingly reminiscent of the almost daily reports of institutional corruption unveiled before the Zondo Commission in South Africa. The South African Passenger Rail Authority could not explain how billions had been spent to purchase train sets that are too tall for the South African rail infrastructure, so the Zimbabwe National Road Authority awarded a contract worth $8 million in 2012 for road graders that were inappropriate for Zimbabwe road conditions and would have been available from other bidders for $5.2. The solidarity between the ruling parties of the two countries is noted, given their shared history as ‘freedom fighters’.

The report, “A Study of Cartel Dynamics”, freely available, demonstrates how ‘rule by law rather than rule of law’ turns the law into a tool of political control to control citizens for the benefit of rent-seeking and political financing. This creates a symbiotic relationship between politicians and cartels, to the detriment of citizens.

There is a push back. In South Africa, the Government released the numbers of people arrested for contravening COVID rules, critics pointed out that nobody had been arrested for corruption. In Zimbabwe journalists and activists fight suppression of criticism on social media, live-streaming arrests, and harassment. Some are arrested under provisions that had been removed from the statute books, others under trumped-up charges.

Business cartels have captured these states. Elsewhere political systems revolve around money. Democracy has been sold to the highest bidder. Only social activism can reverse this.

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on February 12, 2021 15:37

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Source: BBC

He stood trial in South Africa alongside Nelson Mandela and was also imprisoned for his activism.

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