The sudden increase in political temperature has indeed made people jumpy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is called frogboiler because of how he supposedly once described the ANC’s strategy for dealing with white South Africans.
The late MP, Mario Ambrosini, wrote in his memoirs “It would be like boiling a frog alive, which is done by raising the temperature very slowly”.
Ambrosini understood this to mean the ANC would incrementally transfer land and economic power to blacks, “without taking too much from whites at any given time to cause them to rebel or fight”.
Evidently there was concern about an exodus of taxpayers and skills.
Biologists quibble with the analogy.
If you put a frog in boiling water it won’t jump out, it’ll die. A frog will hop out of gradually heated water. Yet the idea of white privilege being stealthily whittled away endures. But the image may need adjustment after the looting and attacks on strategic targets since former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration last week.
The sudden increase in political temperature has indeed made people jumpy. On Monday, The Citizen reported a 1 500% increase in inquiries from people wanting to emigrate.
Interestingly the inquiries are “from Indian, black and white South Africans”. Taxpayers feeling the heat are no longer of one hue.
Ramaphosa gave a reasonably reassuring address on Friday night, tempering some jumpiness. And it has been heartening to see so many South Africans rallying around to help restore some normalcy. But to rally behind Frogboiler would be a Darwin-award-winning mistake.
The Zuma supporting radical economic transformation (RET) faction trying to destabilise Ramaphosa’s government failed, leaving the ANC irreparably divided. Yet it would be wrong to think Ramaphosa is against RET.
He supports RET, but in deceptively reassuring Frogboiler tones rather than the rhetoric of Ace Magashule or Julius Malema, who is in the same Whatsapp group as Zuma’s RETs.
All of the above, including Ramaphosa, hanker for the outmoded command and control socialism which has failed in Venezuela and Cuba.
For example, last year Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma dreamed of using lockdown as “an opportunity to accelerate the implementation of some long agreed upon structural changes to enable reconstruction, development and growth”.
In the same vein, Ramaphosa now says “We need to fundamentally transform our economy and our society, deepening our efforts to create employment, lift millions out of poverty and ensure that the country’s wealth is shared among all its people.”
At a Mandela Day memorial lecture, Ramaphosa said “We need to address the structural inequalities in our economy.”
That can’t be done ANC style. Like the Zuma faction, Ramaphosa supports expropriation without compensation, ANC style broad based black economic empowerment and national health insurance.
These are all financially ruinous. They will worsen poverty and inequality, preparing the ground for further looting and insurrection.
Overdue Cabinet reshuffles will be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. The ANC ship is sinking, and with it goes the frog boiling pot. Let’s steer a different ANC free course.