There is nothing that this country yearns for, as much as seeing the generals and footsoldiers of State Capture behind bars. A secondary yearning, is for the ANC to get a trouncing in the next set of elections in order to show the ruling party that their laissez-faire attitude to Grand Theft is unacceptable to the electorate at large.
Neither of those is going to happen.
First of all, it is common cause that – under the ANC – corruption has infiltrated every aspect of governance. Prosecuting everyone, within our ponderous justice system, will take many hundreds of years – especially as the corrupt have long-ago perfected the art of obstruction and distraction.
It will depopulate government completely: hardly a single civil servant will be left. And there will be no-one left in the ANC to replace them. Not to mention that the already-overflowing prisons will need to expand even further to accommodate the influx of crooked pols. Or we would need to build a whole raft of new prisons, at huge expense.
No… getting a couple of high-profile (but not TOO high-profile), expendable, past-their-sell-by-date politicians and ‘high-ranking’ officials trotted before the courts for a couple of show trials, with the vast majority of the corrupt keeping a low profile – that is the best we can hope for.
And anyone who thinks that the ANC is likely to lose an election anytime soon, is dreaming. Elections in this country are a triumph of hope over experience. Because there is one, huge, vital cog in the wheel of South Africa’s democracy that few people seem to take into account: the ANC has placed the majority of the electorate on their payroll.
Politics is a numbers game.
‘Support’ is nothing. ‘Statistics’ are nothing. It is the number of votes that count. And the party that can drag their voters to the polling booth is the one that will win. The best way to do that, as the ANC has discovered, is to make people’s income dependent on your electoral success. And as the ANC employs or directly supports vast numbers of voters, it is unlikely that they will ever lose an election.
Let us unpack some numbers.
According to AfricaCheck, the government directly employs 2,1 million people. These civil servants are among the highest paid public representatives in the world – in 2019 the wage bill was R745 billion, 45% of the national budget. So almost half of your taxes are being used to support the lavish lifestyles of 4% of the population.
The majority of these positions are filled by ANC cadres, ie, directly appointed by the ANC. And they will remain there, compliments of the ANC.
The ANC government also employs a further 1,3 million people through works programmes. These are mostly unskilled jobs, and it is a common complaint that ANC cadres reserve these jobs for their supporters.
So, if we can assume that conservatively half of these people will definitely vote for the ANC to preserve their income, the ANC can depend on the loyal votes of at least 3,4 million people, who know full well that under any other government it is very likely they will be replaced with more competent employees.
This does not include employees of the Chapter Nine institutions, SOEs, or extra-budgetary departments such as SARS, the RAF and UIF, the National Lottery and others, which number a little over half a million.
There are also 844 traditional leaders, who cost the Treasury more than R250 million a year in salaries – compliments of a deal struck by the ANC in 2004. These community leaders have a disproportionate influence over their subjects and it would be easy to preserve their salaries by telling their followers how to vote.
If we take a conservative estimate therefore that 4 million people in South Africa are grateful to the ANC for the bread on their table, we can also bring in the multiplier effect – the number of people who depend on the salary of the breadwinner. South African research puts this at around 8 people. But if we accept that not all dependents are of voting age, and we adopt a conservative approach, we could confidently state that each government salary in South Africa supports at the very least, three other people. So that means that 12 million voters are entirely dependent on money received from the ANC.
Now we can add the recipients of the SASSA welfare grant – 17 million people. Even though all political parties stress that social grants are not within the favour of the governing party, very few grant recipients are prepared to take the risk. And the ANC very effectively uses this tactic.
So, come election time, the ANC can rely on the votes of 29 million people – not one of which would be prepared to jeopardise their income in favour of a functioning state.
However, this is only the start of the number-crunching, as these numbers are inconsistent with the number of votes available. 36 million people are eligible to vote, and 27 million people have registered. However, in the last elections only 17 million actually voted. The ANC got 10 million of those votes, a nice cozy majority.
It is a truism that the people who are truly disgusted with the ANC would rather forego their vote, or spoil their ballot, rather than vote for any other party that might dislodge them from the gravy train.
This is shown rather neatly in the numbers: the 7 million votes awarded to other parties neatly match the difference between the number of people who can vote, and those that vote for the ANC.
To put it more simply: proportionately speaking, the ANC government directly financially supports around 58% of the adult voting population, which is exactly the number of votes they got.
Interestingly (as a side issue), if ‘spoiled ballots’ were a political party, it would come sixth.
The bad news contained in these numbers, is that the ANC will never go below 50% of the vote, as their government employees and grant recipients would never kill the goose laying that golden egg of employment unaccountability.
It’s a numbers game, and our ruling party has the numbers under its thumb.