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The protests and closure of the N3 highway at Harrismith reveal the consequences of grouping together disparate municipalities post-1994.

This aspiration was noble — group two or three towns so the better managed could lift the poorer developed. The intention was good but, predictably, the opposite happened: the better managed towns were dragged down.

Harrismith now wants to break away from Maluti-a-Phofung, so something at least can be salvaged. This consequence of ANC ideology is not limited to municipalities. We must be aware of the risk of lowest-common-denominator thinking throughout society, for example in health.

If we want a better life for all in the foreseeable future we should rather retain and build up areas of excellence. We can only extend excellence to all if we already have a solid base. The economists call this lumpy growth. No, it’s not good socialism, but it’s the only way that works.

Willem Cronje
Cape Town

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