Are we heading for an apocalypse? With three days to go before the governing party chooses its next leader, dire predictions abound.
Scenario one: supporters of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) fear the consequences of defeat, so they will scupper the ANC national conference.
The longer the election is delayed, the longer Jacob Zuma stays in charge.
Zuptas can continue looting via Eskom and a Russian nuclear deal. Scenario two: NDZ supporters, armed with suitcases full of cash, tenders and contracts, are confident they can buy enough conference votes.
Once NDZ is elected, it will be “looter continua” at a desperate pace. Emboldened by success, and with Zupta appointees in all strategic positions, looters will be unstoppable.
Scenario three: Cyril Ramaphosa wins the ANC leadership election. Amid celebrations there are promises of renewal of the ageing party.
In 2019, gullible voters flock to a re-energised ANC, leaving opposition parties gutted.
This is not unthinkable. Times live on Monday reported on a survey by Ratepop, in which 50.9% of the Democratic Alliance’s black voters will vote for the ANC in 2019.
That would hamper efforts to wrest control from the ANC. Although Ramaphosa is different from Zuma, he, too, is flawed. After all, Ramaphosa willingly joined Zuma’s Cabinet.
Having been deputy president for five years, he can’t now simply distance himself from all the failings of ANC leadership. Long silences made him part of the problem. Not to mention the ghosts of Marikana.
Scenario 4: the ANC splits. Violence, which has been part of the ANC for decades, and is still simmering in KwaZulu-Natal, comes to the fore again.
The spectre of civil war looms. Looking at such scenarios, it is tempting to see no way out, to predict the end for South Africa.
Yet I choose to believe doomsayers are wrong. Here’s why. I am old enough to have seen this cycle several times. The notion that we are hurtling towards crisis is long entrenched in SA’s political psyche.
Yet things always ends up better than expected. In 1947, Arthur Keppel-Jones penned a dystopian novel, When Smuts Goes. In 1977, RW Johnson produced a downbeat book, How Long will South Africa Survive? Johnson repeated the title in a new book in 2015.
In that year he told the Cape Town Press Club that South Africa had two years before we’d have to beg the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. And this would trigger regime change in Pretoria.
Ja, ja. In fact, junk status ratings have not trashed our resilient economy. Yes, things could and should be a lot better.
Yet, although negative stats are repeated ad nauseam, we are not a basket case. For example, when gross domestic product is measured in terms of purchasing power parity, SA is ranked 30th out of 191 countries.
That’s in the top 16%.
Not too shabby. South African politics can be enthralling but sometimes we get so caught up with the detail of current events that we cannot imagine a bigger picture which allows for positive outcomes.
Don’t let the prophets of Armageddon prompt thoughts of “I’m a gettin’ out of here”. Stick around.
Help make South Africa work.