Happy to be a South African today

On Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Taliban occupied Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan and the last major city to fall under their control. It had taken the Americans and their allies twenty years and more than a trillion dollars to build up the 300 000 strong Afghan army but it took the Taliban only ten days to make all their efforts evaporate. Almost overnight, women’s rights were wiped out and a woman in Afghanistan is once again subservient to any man. For now, the Taliban promises stability and constraint, but we all remember the public executions and limb amputations of those who crossed the Taliban in the past.

It is unfair to compare South Africa to Afghanistan because the latter has been a failed state for as long as we can remember, but suppose you were a business owner in that country with all your money tied up in that economy, what would you have done now? It is too late to externalize your wealth and the little you have can be confiscated by the Taliban whenever they want. This is the situation we will all be in if the EFF takes control of South Africa because they have no political intellect, decency or rational agenda. Fortunately this is still so far from happening that you do not have to worry about it now.

Let us look at another such tragedy, Lebanon. Before 1975 Beirut used to be called the “Paris of the Middle East”. Then a civil war broke out and tore the country to pieces. It managed to make a miraculous recovery, but then the pandemic hit in early 2020 and led to a devastating financial meltdown. Then, on August 4th, 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut exploded, causing at least 218 deaths, 7 500 injuries and $15 billion in property damage; and leaving an estimated 300 000 people homeless. Lebanon is close to anarchy with fuel shortages causing essential services to be shut down. Whatever assets you have in that country is now worthless.

Lastly, we can look at Haiti. In 2010 the most devastating earthquake ever hit Haiti and affected the lives of approximately 3 million people. There were 250 000 deaths and 300 000 people were injured. The country never really recovered and on August 14th, 2021, another 7,2 magnitude earthquake struck the country. More than a thousand people are dead and many thousands injured but that was not all – a tropical storm called Grace hit the already devastated country, causing even further havoc. And then, to top it all off, their President was assassinated last month.

Compared to all that, waking up in South Africa today is a blessing. We have our problems but we are dealing with them. We still have our political democracy with its freedom of choice. We do have financial insecurities, political unrest with property destruction and lootings, but nothing compared to Beirut. We do not have nightmarish natural disasters like Haiti. We are still the “Jewel of Africa” and we can still beat the British and Irish Lions on the rugby field. As a nation we are still fortunate and we should celebrate that fact.

Perhaps, one day, we will follow Zambia in electing a President on merit and not a political party on ideology, but let us not get ahead of ourselves.


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