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South Africa's Slow Train Crash

With my latest tour to South Africa nearing an end I wonder if this country is ready to implode. Just when it seems the Government cannot make themselves look any worse, they load that shotgun and aim it at whichever part of their foot they didn’t blow off last week. ...

Iain

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South Africa's Slow Train Crash

With my latest tour to South Africa nearing an end I wonder if this country is ready to implode. Just when it seems the Government cannot make themselves look any worse, they load that shotgun and aim it at whichever part of their foot they didn’t blow off last week. ...

Iain

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South Africa's Slow Train Crash

Posted by Iain on June 19, 2015, 9:10 p.m. in Immigration

With my latest tour to South Africa nearing an end I wonder if this country is ready to implode.

Just when it seems the Government cannot make themselves look any worse, they load that shotgun and aim it at whichever part of their foot they didn’t blow off last week.  I cannot help wondering if there isn’t now a creeping arrogance given they have no effective opposition and their hold on power absolute. 

Before anyone jumps down my throat let me say that there is still much about South Africa I admire and by and large it is still a country that is well worth a visit.

If you step back and try and view it objectively here are some ‘highlights’ of the past three weeks.

Before discussing these however may I offer some context that in the past three weeks where I come from I suspect nothing has happened that would make page 17 of the national papers in South Africa (unless it involved rugby perhaps). On the political front in NZ the biggest news is a Government Minister has offered to resign because his brother has been charged with sexual assault. His brother!…..I agree that might be over kill but a few politicians around this country might take a leaf out of that book.

In my first week the President of this country dripped sarcasm in Parliament 24 hours before he knew his Minister of Police, having conducted an ‘investigation’, was to announce that he did not have to pay back any of the NZ$22 million the taxpayer paid to upgrade his ‘house’ because among other things the swimming pool was in fact a ‘fire pool’ to be used to store water in in case of a fire. I cannot recall how he justified the chicken coop or cattle kraal as aids to boost the security of the property but it will have been in there somewhere. 

Robochickens perhaps? 

Oh and then there was the small matter of the multi million rand security fence with gaping holes  that the cattle from the kraal probably use to enter and leave the high security facility. Gaping holes and not the best security one might conclude but no one cared about until it was shown on national TV.

In week two the country gets dragged into the FIFA scandal and the Government denies that they paid any ‘bribe’ to anyone to secure the hosting rights to the 2010 World Cup. They paid US$10m allegedly to help fund the ‘African Diaspora’ in the Caribbean. All parties have said that with a straight face. So far scant evidence of these exiled Africans enjoying much football development. While it seems pretty clear that if anyone anywhere wants to host a World Cup, Governments offer all sorts of incentives and inducements so it escapes me why the South African Government doesn’t just shut up……..somehow these guys just keep on digging.

Last but by no means least the Government snubs its nose as its own Constitution when it fails to arrest the President of Sudan earlier this week who was in town to attend the African Union Summit. That really was a  ‘wow’ moment for me. This guy is wanted for among other things genocide. Papers are filed in Court and lawyers reminding the Government they have no choice other than to arrest him but instead the Government offers a full police escort as this suspected criminal scuttles for his private plane at the airport and flees the country.  All in the name of African brotherhood and solidarity they say. Oh really? This guy is accused of mass murder of some of those same African brothers! The Government says that they might pull out of the Rome agreement that they signed up to as there is a bias in the ICCs charges (as in they only seem to file charges against leaders who insight or induce mass murder and like it or not there is a whole lot of them in Africa). And yes the US and Israel have not signed up because there are a couple in their past or present  leadership that might end up on ICC charges as well. But South Africa signed up. They wanted in. Till they needed out.

The scariest thing is they were willing to ignore their own laws to do it and that is a frightening insight into how they view the law, the Courts and their obligations not only to the world but their own people.

This country is slowly but surely sliding into one party (benign?) dictatorship where the Government genuinely seems to believe they are above the law.

The currency has continued to fall through the floor. Our potential clients are increasingly currency prisoners with emigration a pipe dream given the costs. The nation has an official unemployment rate of 25%.

South Africa has many problems it did not create, like a porous border through which several hundred thousand people have entered illegally in recent years (over 100,000 refugees pouring into Cape Town every year), a culture of non-payment for services left over from the fight against the apartheid regime, a resultant crumbling in infrastructure, constant power cuts that are increasingly driving businesses to the wall and a birth rate that  like in many third world countries sees the per capita tax take not keeping up with expanding demand. 

Is it just me or does this all read a bit like the recent history of Zimbabwe?

It doesn’t help confidence when the majority continue to vote in politicians from Municipality up who are often incompetent, cannot do their jobs and seem to think that positions of power are an open invitation to plunder the public coffers. They ruin it for the hard working and honest politicians of which I am sure, or at least am desperate to believe, there are many.

It is all so sad to watch as I have been for 25 years of regular visits. It is a slow train crash that has been unfolding for years.

Luckily and if there is any hope left for this place, the one credible opposition party has recently elected a charismatic, articulate and highly intelligent young black man to lead them. It is possibly the only way the black majority might turn their backs on the ANC and stop the rot because most it seems will not vote for someone of non-African ethnicity. Most seem wedded to the ANC because they lead them to freedom but what sort of freedom do most have with ‘leadership’ like this?

Until next week

Iain MacLeod - Southern Man

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12 comments on this post
June 19, 2015, 10:27 p.m. by Jacqueline Geerlings

You have touched on the most critical issues of the past few months, excluding of course that we never seem to have a viable National Director of Public Prosecutions who hasnt been charged with murder or some white collar crime. To boot, the official unemplopment stats are so outdated... Try 46%

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June 19, 2015, 10:32 p.m. by Danielle Wright

As a South African, living in the middle of this train crash. It is enlightening to read an "outsiders'" perspective is also eye-opening. If only so many others could see things with at least a third of the same eyes. I applaud you for not complaining, but bringing to the readers attention something that so many people are blind to see.

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June 19, 2015, 10:40 p.m. by Charlotte le Grange

100% Spot on! Would give it a 10 star rating if it was available.

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June 19, 2015, 10:58 p.m. by Wayne

Hi Iain

I think a more apt comparison of deterioration is that of Venezuela.

The 'hollowing out' of the public service and other institutions of their skills, traditions of conduct and knowledge, the gradual defiling of legal bases and the over-reliance on declining output and volumes of commodity are just some of the parallels to that South American nation.

This country is also orientating itself to the model of Putin's rule of Russia and the State driven development of China with scant regard for those impacted negatively or any poor outcomes. Again, this is much like Venezuela and the systems are ones millions have left behind in those countries when given the chance.

The growing socio-economic chatter locally also lately favours models and actions like that espoused by Hugo Chavez - who similarly impoverished Venezuela to the loud cheers of support from the Far Left.

The ANCYL would often hold him up as an example of the future and many of those former members now hold sway in the ANC top levers of power. The liberals and reformists have been driven out.

The violation of the constitution itself is also not new as several lower profile cases already demonstrated a deteriorating trend of new lows. So we can expect worse to follow in time.

In all I'm supporting your argument of long term decline and don't dispute the Zimbabwe comparison. Rather I believe the Venezuela of today is another increasingly possible future for SA.

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June 20, 2015, 12:51 a.m. by Karin Rheeder

....and then you haven't even mentioned the crime. It's scary to be out on the road after dark, it's scary to let your teenage kids out in the evening, it's even scary to sit outside in your own garden!! Wish I could get out, but alas, I think I left it too late.

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June 20, 2015, 1:10 a.m. by Samantha Lee

This is exactly the reason why I would love to emigrate to New Zealand and yes, this is exactly what happened to Zimbabwe!
This country is run by a bunch of ignorant and arrogant fools. They are an embarrassment to the citizens and to the late Nelson Mandela who fought so hard to build a better South Africa. I Wish Zuma would pay for my emigration seen as how his got enough money to throw around!!!

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June 20, 2015, 2 a.m. by Kerry

Scary to read as a young white South African denied the education I need to get Out of here because I am white (and whites don't get bursaries)

Replies to this comment

July 6, 2015, 1:28 a.m. by Brent Cowling
@Kerry, go to NZ and you will find out what being a Zimbabwean in SA is all about. If you have an education and skills you will not get a job unless it is at a very low level. That is guaranteed, never mind the empty promises others will make. SA and the rest of the world may be bad, but NZ is no better. As for crime, if you watch their news and are in the country you will see plenty crime, don't be fooled by this little fib.
July 6, 2015, 8:41 a.m. by Iain Macleod
Perception is a funny thing isn't it? I asked my brother (NZer, aged 53, lived in NZ nearly all his life) what the annual murder rate as for this country. He guess it was between 300 and 400. I asked him where that number came from? He told me from reading the local Auckland newspaper. He was absolutely amazed and a little disbelieving when i told him that the actual number is between 34- 42 a year. But it is true. As someone who is a regular visitor to SA and has been doing so for 26 years I can only share my opinions and those of my South African clients that have moved here. I tell everyone the same thing - NZ is far from perfect, we have our issues but there is 'no little fib' in anything in this piece. It is all all real - what people choose to see is their business. That doesn't deny the reality or the facts.
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June 20, 2015, 8:04 a.m. by Sandy

Great post, from an outsiders point of view, you couldn't have been more spot on!
I enjoyed your seminar as well, in jhb.
My husband has been won over and he is keen to make the move. I need to start the immigration process, and I realised I have a massive pension fund that I will not be using in this country, may as well use it to get me to paradise :) will be in communications with you soon. Thanks Sandy

Replies to this comment

June 26, 2015, 7:24 p.m. by Samantha Lee
Oh Sandy!! That is absolutely wonderful news!! Good for yal!! Please take me with you!! ha,ha!!! All of the best with your move and future. No doubt you making the correct decision!
July 6, 2015, 8:14 a.m. by Anna Jess
Dear Sandy, if you really think NZ will be paradise you are in for a very rude surprise. Both you are husband will most likely not find jobs other than packing shelves in the grocery store at minimum wage. Don't worry they will tell you many of their clients have found good jobs with their skills. It will not be your experience so don't take their word for it as that will be a massive mistake. Here's an idea, how about wording the contract that you only pay 10% of the fees on application and the remainder when you get the job which they said you would get. I guess the business would go bust as not many get a job based on skills shortage or ability or education for that matter. Warnings aside, do not be fooled by any so called skills shortage or lifestyle in NZ as its literally just words. Seminars are free for a reason and no its not because he wishes to help people. Could have saved a fortune to not waste my time with garbage in NZ.
July 6, 2015, 8:51 a.m. by iain
For the record if packing shelves was the only job a ‘would be’ skilled migrant got Anna is right you would not be able to stay here for long. I don't deny there are some migrants who might end up doing it but it won't get them residence or even a work visa. They'd have to secure their residence first. As far as I am aware that has not been the outcome for a single client of IMMagine's. Perhaps Anna if you had invested in really good advice and/or done some quality research you'd have not come over in the first place if your skills were a poor match for NZs needs. This is why people pay us - to assess not only their eligibility but also to talk through issues like employability - the advice we offer appears to be very good at minimising these sorts of outcomes and the fact not a single paying client I know of is doing menial work would suggest we seem to be very good at doing it. The fact we have about 4 or 5 out of every 100 clients who come over to find skilled work don’t find it would suggest we are actually adding a whole lot of value to those that invest in good advice - and follow it. No one promises anyone anything in the migration world - to do so would be dishonest and misleading and ultimately migrants need to take some responsibility for doing their own research as well.
July 7, 2015, 6:21 a.m. by Anna Jess
I paid you for your advice remember! And you said I was on the skills shortage and you said I would get a livable salary. What a joke, a complete scam! Don't worry Iain, enjoy the sun while it lasts. You can keep deleting comments which are made to warn others unsuspecting people of what you will do to them, but there are plenty all over the world who have fallen victim to this garbage NZ story.
July 7, 2015, 9:09 a.m. by Iain Macleod
For the record I will delete any comment the borders on defamation. I am in to free speech but not people posting a rant without context. None of us have any record of any consultation with you which is odd because we keep the records (but I will take your word for it you had one with me) but we do know that you never retained us to work with you on the entire move which is where the strategy is executed under our care and guidance (and which seldom fails). Having said that we never absolutely guarantee anything simply because we cannot. Being in an area of absolute skills shortage is never an assurance of employment. Everyone is told that up front. Without paying me anything - it is discussed at a seminar. And if you were a fee paying client on the actual move you'd have known that. Your experience was clearly not a good one and it does happen - exactly as I warn everyone at seminars, those that only have a consultation with us and then try the process themselves and those that retain us to work with them on the entire move. Migration is never guaranteed a success and NZ is far from perfect - there are plenty who try this and fail. Just not those that retain us for the whole job and I stand by the claim. That you were unable to make it work for whatever reason doesn't make migration a 'scam', it means you are living proof it doesn't work for everyone. The biggest difficulty in this game is people often hear what they want to hear Jess, not what they are actually told. I have little doubt that those that come for an initial consultation and then try to execute this on their own have a far greater chance of failure. The statistics bear this out. There is certainly a salutory lesson in your story somewhere, I am just certain that I am not it.
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July 6, 2015, 9:57 p.m. by Teoh

I've recently made the move myself, coming here after spending close to 10 years working in a tiny south east asian island, I can tell you NZ and Auckland is better than what my wife and I ever dared to hoped for. I managed to get a great job as a programmer. I've travelled to many countries in my line of work previously as a consultant, and let me tell you very few countries can compare. The way the country is set up, the culture, the people, it's all very unique. Every other migrant that I have spoken to have only good things to say. Sure theres no paradise in the world, but to me NZ sure comes close.

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July 8, 2015, 4:42 p.m. by Marc Sparks

SA's crumbling infrastructure is a direct result of under investment and incompetent cadre deployment.

That electricity system effectively lasted 20 years without investment coupled with massive demand increases is a testimony to those who originally engineered it.

Skills continue to flee, and the education system continues to fail 70% of the nations children.

When will it end?

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July 13, 2015, 8:10 p.m. by Paula

I can not really add to comments about life in South Africa But what I can say if how much I highly recommend the services of IMMagine NZ. I tried to sort out my application on my own but after 9 months I took it all to them. They have sorted out getting me residency! They are very professional, knowledgable and efficient. There was always some one available to answer any queries I had. I wish I had gone straight to them and not wasted my time. I would highly recommend IMMagine!

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Aug. 3, 2015, 7:18 a.m. by absar faisal

Growing together

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