Now in power for the past 20 years the ANC has taken measures which have severely undermined South Africa. Sure, they inherited a terrible legacy from apartheid. But 20 years on it is the measures taken by the ANC that are blighting the country’s hopes.

  1. Allowing corruption to become an acceptable part of ANC culture and refusing to hold leaders like Jacob Zuma to account for their misdeeds.  The 700 allegations of corruption from the Arms Deal still hang over Zuma. Then there are the sums of public money spent on Nkandla. As well as the treatment of the Gupta family by ‘Number One’. Nor is Zuma alone. The ANC’s ranks in parliament include those against whom charges have actually been proved – including men like Tony Yengeni. Once a proud and upright party, the ANC today provides a safe haven for some of the more sleazy and disreputable members of society.
  2. Allowing key institutions to fall into disrepute. The parliament is no longer a place in which the executive is held to account. President Zuma has been shielded from tough questioning when he deigns to appear before it. Julius Malema’s EFF has caused a good deal of noise about this, but neither they nor the Democratic Alliance have been able to use parliament in the way in which the Constitution envisaged. Nor is it just parliament. The judiciary has been unable to deal with charges against the President. And the allegation that the Judge President of the Western Cape, Justice John Hlophe attempted to manipulate judges of the Constitutional Court has also never been resolved.
  3. The economy is in the doldrums. Around a third of adults are unemployed and have little hope that this will change any time soon. South Africa’s credit rating is on the slide. In June Standard & Poors S&P’s gave South African debt its lowest investment grade — just one notch above “junk” status shunned by many investors. Transparency International’s corruption rating has moved in the same direction. Who would plan major investments in a country with this kind of record?
  4. Making friends with dictators. Once South Africa (and the ANC) was admired around the world. No longer. Its record of cosying up to men like Libya’s later leader, Colonel Gaddafi did South Africa no favours. Now it sees its best friends as Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Old allies in Europe and the USA are shunned or sneered at. In Africa, Zuma’s reliance on  dictators like Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos and support for Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe have also been far more damaging than is generally realised.
  5. Those old enemies of a secure, stable society – crime and violence – have been allowed to flourish. There were 16,259 murders in 2012/13 – or nearly 47 a day. Rape is at epidemic proportions, as is robbery. Yet there is no indication that the ANC, or Jacob Zuma, has the slightest idea what to do.

The real danger is cumulative: that South Africa gradually declines; not just sinking but slowly drowning. It is a depressing, avoidable fate.

Tomorrow I will publish five reasons for optimism.