There was a telling moment in the TV series Chernobyl that suggested the Soviet system survived the fall of the Berlin wall and is alive and well in SA. When the smug government official told the professor that the fire at the plant posed no danger, she said: “I’m a nuclear physicist and you were in a shoe factory before you got here.” He sneered in reply: “Yes, I was in a shoe factory, but now I’m in charge!”

Therein lies one explanation as to why our state-owned enterprises are dysfunctional, why municipalities cannot maintain their sewage installations and why trains don’t run on time, or at all. We have a government that displays all the components of the Soviet system: constant and repeated celebrations marking historical events, elaborate funerals of deceased comrades now to be heroes of the revolution, blue lights and long cavalcades accompanying our leaders to remind us and them how important they are, ever-changing five-year plans that never end, and of course the bar...

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