The most distressing outcome of the May election was that over 67% of the votes went to parties proposing policies that have failed disastrously over the last 30 years. After the election, they are still proposing them, even more strongly. Even worse was revealed in the angry feuding between the ANC, DA, MK and EFF over the composition of the new government.

Spokesmen for the progressive elements in the ANC, MK, EFF, SACP, and COSATU all praised the policies that have caused 42% unemployment and brought South Africa to ruin, and all denounced anyone who opposed them (mainly the DA). If your policies wreck the lives of poor workers, you are leftist and pro-working class. If your policies benefit poor workers, you are right-wing, counter-revolutionary, and anti-worker – or even worse, neoliberal and pro-business. At my time of writing (Friday afternoon) I am dismayed to hear that the ANC and the DA are going to form a government of national unity (GNU) together with the IFP, and that the DA is pressing for Cyril Ramaphosa to remain President of South Africa. Will this promote good policies that will bring prosperity to all and plenty of jobs? I fear not. Or will it continue the failed policies that have ruined the lives of poor people? I fear so.

In March 1994, South Africa stood on the edge of greatness and seemed destined for prosperity and happiness. She had the strongest economy in Africa by far and by far the most developed industry. She had the greatest mineral treasure on Earth and received massive investment in mining. Eskom provided a plentiful supply of the world’s cheapest electricity. South African ports and railways worked well, including passenger rail. All this had been achieved despite the wicked system of apartheid and international sanctions.

But now apartheid was gone, its horrible laws had been scrapped by the last white government and sanctions had ended. After our peaceful democratic election in April 1994 and Nelson Mandela’s becoming the President of South Africa, we were the darling of the world. International investors were eager to bring their money here; international companies were eager to trade with us; international financiers smiled upon us. We had bountiful opportunities. Nothing stood in our way, nothing – except the ANC.


In 30 years the ANC has squandered all of the wonderful opportunities. Today we have the highest unemployment ever; economic growth, after a reasonable few years at first, has fallen away; Eskom has failed to give us the electricity supply we needed; Transnet has failed in its ports and railways; PRASA has failed; mining investors and international mining companies are fleeing; we are de-industrialising and shutting down our manufacturing; education for the great mass of our children is disastrously bad; we have awful inequality (although I doubt we are more unequal than socialist North Korea); corruption is crippling our economy and our social fabric; rampant crime and violence terrorises poor black communities, especially women; organised crime seems to be taking over from government or working with it in many areas; above all, a quarter of our children suffer permanent brain damage from lack of food.

We are falling further and further behind other emerging economies that were at the same level as us in 1994. There is not the slightest doubt what has caused this tragedy: the ruinous policies of the ANC and its allies.

Electricity supply is interesting in the fact that it can be so easily measured and is crucial for economic success. In the years 1970 to 1990, when South Africa was rapidly industrialising, electricity demand growth was twice economic growth: if the economy grew at 6%, electricity demand grew at 12%. From 1990 to 2007, the ratio was one to one: 3% economic growth to 3% growth in electricity demand.

In 1994, peak electricity demand was 24,798 MW. If the economy had grown by 6% since then (as the ANC promised, quite reasonably) and the ratio had only been one to one, our peak electricity demand would now be 142,427 MW; if economic growth had been 3% with the same ratio, peak demand would now be 60,191 MW. Actually in April 2024, it was 31,137 MW. Loss of supply, not loss of demand caused the drop. In short, Eskom has failed disastrously to provide us with the electricity we needed for even modest economic growth.

We ran out of electricity in 2007. This is because we failed to build power stations when a child could have seen we needed them. The important loss is not the actual loss of electricity during the load-shedding of the last years but the loss between what should have happened and what did happen. Both Eskom and the ANC government were to blame.

I repeat myself too often and don’t want to say again why cadre deployment, affirmative action, BEE, employment equity, and transformation have wrecked Eskom, Transnet, our water supply, our public health, and our state education. These polices have transferred wealth from the poor to the politically connected rich; they have caused a flight of skills; they have made looting legal; they have produced water shortages and sewage in the streets; they have given black working-class children among the worst educational outcomes on Earth.

Our restrictive labour laws and minimum wages have shut the poor out of the economy and smashed small businesses, especially those run by poor black women and men. The worst of it is that the political leaders of the ANC and other progressive forces, all themselves rich and bourgeois, all despising the working classes, know perfectly well that these policies are calamitous.

They wouldn’t dream of inflicting these policies on themselves. No ANC or Communist Party leader would dream of sending his own children to a school with affirmative action teachers and 93% black staff, in keeping with transformation and employment equity. This type of hypocrisy is deep, and reflects itself around the world, beginning in 1917.


In October 1917, Vladimir Lenin, bourgeois to his boots, never having worked in a factory in his life, lead a coup against the feeble and crumbling revolutionary government in Russia. He took over and set about “achieving socialism”, meaning state control by a small elite. His first step was to set up a system of terror and coercion because he knew perfectly well that nobody would ever willingly choose socialism/communism. He tried to socialise agriculture by banning private farmers and making everybody work for state-owned collectives. The result was the socialist famine of 1921-2, where about five million workers and peasants starved to death. You can see pictures of Russian workers selling their dead children for food.

Lenin then introduced the New Economic Policy, which allowed some private farms and market prices for food. Immediately the famine ended, and people had enough food. The lesson Stalin took from this was that socialism had not been tried hard enough. When he was safely in power, he introduced even more forceful state collectives and banned all private farms.

The result was an even worse famine, with even more workers and peasants starving to death. Later Mao Zedong in China went even further with socialist farming and produced the greatest famine in history. All of these socialist leaders believed that when a policy had failed, it was because it had not been tried hard enough, must be tried again even harder. This is just what the progressive and left-leaning forces in South Africa believe. Of course, they mean these policies for other people, never themselves. Neither Lenin nor Trotsky nor Stalin nor Mao would dream of working as a labourer on a collective farm.

In the time between the election results and the announcement of the GNU, I read many revolutionaries and progressives in our newspapers listing the leaders they most admired and the countries they most wanted South Africa to emulate. They were all spectacular failures, where the working classes suffered and were brutally exploited, where there was always mass poverty and sometimes starvation. They admired Lenin, Mao, Castro, Chavez and Mugabe, and they admired the USSR, Communist China, Communist Cuba and Zimbabwe, all countries from which workers were desperately trying to flee.


The DA is the only big party in South Africa, maybe the only party in South Africa, that believes that all people, black and white, rich and poor, are of equal worth and should be allowed to decide for themselves how they want to trade and do business among themselves. This makes it hated by progressive forces, who all favour nationalisation of everything, where a Marxist elite tells the workers what to do.

Even worse, the progressives are incandescent with rage over the success of the Western Cape under the DA and the fact that working class blacks want to move from regions ruled by the ANC to regions ruled by the DA. But now Steenhuisen has taken the DA into a GNU with the ANC under Cyril Ramaphosa. Is he hoping to persuade Ramaphosa to drop his disastrous policies of BEE, EWC, minimum wages and NHI? Ramaphosa is a weak, dishonest man and will bend to whomever he thinks has most power.

In GNU, in parliament, Ramaphosa will have the DA recommending a good policy and members of the MK and EFF recommending a bad one. Outside parliament, he will have COSATU and the SACP recommending the bad one. Which way will he bend? I don’t think it will be the DA’s way.

Remember Ramaphosa has never admitted that any of his policies were failures (nor has any other ANC leader).

I am aware that we live in the real world of compromises, and that perhaps we should accept a GNU between the ANC and DA as real politik, a necessary fudge. But I’d much rather the DA had gone it alone, without compromising, giving decent rule to the Western Cape, and letting the rest of the country be ruled by some horrid coalition of the ANC with the EFF or MK or both. The outcomes would be clear to everyone, and perhaps then people could distinguish between policies that work and policies that fail.

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.