White South African engineers are held in high regard all around the world – except in South Africa, where the ANC has waged a successful campaign to get rid of them. I completed a late degree in mechanical engineering in 1986 at the University of Cape Town, and then worked for Eskom and other industrial companies for several years. 

From the 1990s on, white engineers found it increasingly difficult to get jobs. The employment agencies said that affirmative action, or “transformation”, was their top priority, almost their only priority. White engineering graduates need not apply. Most of my engineering friends have emigrated, many unwillingly, to Australia, Europe and North America. All seem to be doing well, earning more than they would have in South Africa, and the ANC is delighted with their departure.

In general, the ANC wants to drive out skilled whites, but there are two exceptions. For occupations that directly and personally serve the ANC elite, they want whites. Eskom serves them indirectly and impersonally, so ideology is more important than quality of service, and they want black affirmative action appointments and no whites. Teachers teach ANC children personally and directly, so quality of service is more important than ideology, and they want whites. No affirmative action schools for the ANC elite! Affirmative action teachers are for the poor black working-class masses. 

The other exception is Cubans. However white the Cubans may be – and the Cuban revolutionary ruling class is almost entirely white – Cubans are always acceptable to the ANC.

In 1959, the Cuban leader, a working-class man of mixed race, Fulgencio Batista, was overthrown by a rich, privileged, bourgeois man, Fidel Castro, who was lily white. Castro and his white comrades immediately set up a brutal dictatorship, which persecuted homosexuals, ended democracy, exploited the working classes, ruined the once prosperous Cuban economy, and caused hundreds of thousands of ordinary Cubans to flee from the country, something they had not previously done. 

Cuba had been one of the most advanced countries in Latin America, with excellent education and health services; Castro ruined just about everything except for the latter two. The ANC regards him as a hero. Its nominal reason is pure fiction, the notion he helped overcome apartheid by his “victory” over South Africa in Angola in 1986. Castro was trying to extend his imperialism over various parts of Africa, including Ethiopia, always with ruinous results for local people. In Angola he tried to take over the whole country for his MPLA clients. UNITA, the rival Angolan movement, asked for South African help to resist them. South Africa sent in a small force, which smashed the Cuban/MPLA forces, inflicting heavy casualties, stopping Castro in his tracks and forcing him back, far further than they had intended, to Cuito Cuanavale. Castro hastily sued for peace.

The real reason why the ANC likes Cuba’s white government is because it opposes the West and hates capitalism. It doesn’t matter that Castro ruined Cuba. (Indeed, the ANC seems to admire leaders who ruin their countries. It worships Robert Mugabe.) What matters is that he screamed against the West and chanted Communist slogans, which is what the ANC wants to do. This is why the ANC is anxious to support the failing Communist regime in Cuba. Cuba is falling further into ruin and is desperate for foreign aid. South Africa is essentially giving foreign aid to Cuba while it pays huge sums of money for Cuban doctors and engineers. The ANC takes South African taxpayers’ money to give to the tyrants who run Cuba, who will keep most of it themselves and give a small fraction to their engineers in South Africa.

One of the main reasons for the failure of clean water supply in our municipalities is the same as a main reason for the ruin of Eskom: the expulsion of qualified and experienced white engineers. (Getting rid of white engineers at Eskom was sometimes known as “space creation”.) Expelled from South Africa, these engineers are doing a good job in providing clean water in Australia. In Cuba, the water supply system is falling apart; it seems worse than ours. It is estimated that water losses in Cuba are about 60%, compared with about 35% in South African municipalities. At times, tens of thousands of people in Havana, the Cuban capital, have to get their water by tanker trucks. South Africa is going to pay a fortune for the Cuban engineers who presided over this collapse, when the South African engineers who did a good job with our water supplies have been driven out. 

The future of engineering in South Africa looks bleak, and so does any chance of preventing further de-industrialisation. Since the ANC is intent on getting rid of white engineers, perhaps it should prevent white students from studying engineering, and replace the white engineering lecturers with black affirmative action ones – and white Cubans.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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Andrew Kenny is a writer, an engineer and a classical liberal.