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Recently, I’ve become quite interested in the goings-on in South Africa. What’s so interesting in my eyes is the comparison between it and the potential decline that the US could experience in the future.
South Africa is wrought with violence, accusations of racism, and very poor long-term race relations. Just 20 years after the end of apartheid, many consider the country slowly descending to the abyss of destruction. It may be wise to consider what is taking place in South Africa, contrast it with the United States, and attempt to learn from their case.
Blackouts have been daily since November
It’s called “Load Shedding” – Imagine every day at some extraordinarily inconvenient time your power is shut off by your utility. It could be during meal time, or the heat of the day, but you’re guaranteed to have 2, maybe 3 hours of power loss each day. Don’t even think about buying a generator, there are none left.
The South African power grid at one time was the most well developed grid in all of Africa. In the early 90s after apartheid was abandoned, the South African government felt it was important to allow ‘new players’ into the market (Mostly minority-owned companies). From 1994 through 2000, there was a virtual freeze on new power plants. At this time the government came to the realization that as the demand for power was growing, no new private companies were able to bring online any new power plants. After this, Eskom was tasked to build new plants, but there were many hurdles. The government frowned upon coal for new capacity, they wanted renewables, some wanted nuclear, but that wasn’t too popular either. So, after lots of debate, time was wasted and no insufficient generation capability was brought online. They may have new generation online soon, but nothing is certain. Union strikes are constant in South Africa, many resorting to slaughtering business owners and managers in the mines to get additional pay.
However, insufficient generation capacity isn’t the only thing weighing down the grid. Power theft is also a very real player on the weakened grid state. In many poor districts of South Africa, people have resorted to high-risk tie-ins to suck power away from paying customers. Recently, Eskom has resorted to hiring individuals to survey line tie-ins that steal power. However the crews have been shot at, threatened and in some reports beaten by local villagers because they do not want to give up their stolen power.
To counter that, Eskom came up with another idea – To install pre-pay power meters on houses. These would work like pre-paid cell phones. You can upload money to your meter and buy it that way. This would theoretically insure that those who are supporting the infrastructure would get what they are paying for. However the local outrage from individuals has been so severe that many buildings were burnt down in protest over the meters.
Home invasions, robberies & carjackings are common
In the US, home invasions happen nearly every day, and certainly once a week. However in the case of America, our country is home to nearly 320 million people. South Africa on the other hand is much smaller, and reports of just home invasions is essentially a daily thing. Home invasions though just aren’t simple robberies, in many cases they involve rape, torture and blackmailing of families. In some cases, entire subdivisions are invaded by roving gangs.
This has led to something we simply don’t see in the United States – Walled subdivisions.
Essentially these are walled, fortified and gated subdivisions. The goal is to prevent any type of robbers or gangs from penetrating into the subdivision an causing problems. For the most part this has worked well, except that in some cases criminals have got more violent in order to rob communities.
Carjacking – locally called hijacking in South Africa is a massive problem. Many times hijacking is used in order to gain access to a person’s home by holding the driver or family hostage. This way the robbers can make it through security and into a person’s home to steal and make the getaway in their car.
This leads to amazing robberies, police pursuits and the like as violence is a very daily thing in many parts of the country.
There are many cases of street executions
Next on the list is the “Xenophobic wave” going through South Africa. Many young, black, unemployed individuals have been rioting as well as executing foreign nationals over the past several months. This is due to the belief that migrant workers, mostly from other countries in Africa, are stealing jobs from the black South Africans. Whether this is true or not is hard to determine, one thing is for certain – foreigners in SA are scared.
We recently posted a video of several Zimbabwean youth being burnt alive via mob justice. Regarding this specific event the facts aren’t overly clear. Some locals say they were killed simply because they were foreigners caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, others say they had robbed and stabbed a man. The police have very little evidence pointing to the truth, however for certain 3 people died the day.
As the xenophobia sweeps South Africa, it is causing problems for those who have left the country and found work elsewhere. They are now being targeted for retaliation due to the violence in South Africa proper.
Here’s just one or two days worth of photos during the height of the xenophobic violence.
While many would cite the failures of South Africa as a nation on racism, I truly believe the problems are somewhat deeper, and have less to do with the repression of various race groups and more about government.
From the start, apartheid has gone hand-in-hand with government control. Up until the disestablishment of apartheid, the government allowed mostly free trade and practice for whites in SA while supporting black oppression. However after the NP was disposed and the ANC was elected the country has gone even more towards a pro-government structure. Instead of promoting free trade, free practice and business freedoms, the ANC has adopted many Keynesian economic models and left ideologies with regards to the economy and capitalism in general.
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