Friday, July 28, 2023

"Why South Africa Is on the Brink of Chaos"

From Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance, July 20:

On a recent sunny afternoon, Joshua Radebe patted down asphalt into a neatly filled pothole on a busy Johannesburg street as a motorist tooted and waved to him. Radebe works not for the government but for insurance company Discovery Ltd.’s “Pothole Patrol.”

Like Discovery, which also pays for some of the fire engines in the South African commercial capital, precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater Ltd. ensures that water near its mines is safe to drink and roads are maintained and well lit; it upgrades schools and clinics. Food producer Tiger Brands secures water supply for the town that’s home to its fruit-processing business, and Investec Plc powers a traffic light near its offices during blackouts in Johannesburg. Glencore Plc, Anglo American Plc spinoff Thungela Resources Ltd. and other owners of an export terminal spend about $1 million a month to protect trains transporting their coal from cable thieves.

“It’s not altruism,” said Lungisa Fuzile, chief executive officer of the South African unit of Standard Bank Group Ltd., the continent’s biggest lender. “You can’t run a successful private business in a sea of chaos.”

Government incompetence, corruption and policy paralysis have left critical infrastructure in Africa’s most-industrialized nation in tatters, forcing companies to step into areas that are within the purview of the state in most countries.

Power cuts of as many as 12 hours a day have driven schools, hospitals and businesses to generators. Water in some communities is unsafe to drink. A dilapidated sanitation system triggered a recent cholera outbreak near the capital, Pretoria. Outside of some national highways, paved streets have more potholes than road. Poorly maintained state schools are keeping a whole generation from access to a decent education. Theft of everything from copper cables to solar panels are common, and crime has soared to such an extent that the private security industry now employs more people than the police force and military put together.

“We are indeed, as many have said, running the risk of becoming a failed state because we’re already on borrowed time,” Daniel Mminele, chairman of Nedbank Group Ltd. and a former deputy central bank governor, said in April....


If interested see also Bloomberg June 16:

It sounds like San Francisco.