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Protesters outside parliament in Cape Town. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Protesters outside parliament in Cape Town. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

During the Great Depression, unemployment in the UK rose to 25%. That SA can maintain a rate of  45% (expanded version) is due to government grants and assistance, which didn’t exist in the 1930s.

Last year’s riots in KwaZulu-Natal suggest these grants are no longer working, and as food prices continue to increase more incidents of an equally violent nature can be expected in other parts of the country.

For those of us with jobs, it is difficult to understand that we are in the midst of a social disaster easily on par with the mid-1930s. The poor are hidden and ignored in the townships and former homelands, except for moral indignation around awful incidents such as when 21 children mysteriously die in an East London shebeen.

England in the 1930s was full of ambitious populists selling simplistic solutions. One was Sir Oswald Mosley, who ran the British Union of Fascists, otherwise known as the “Blackshirts”. He only failed in his power grab because the English elites feared communism less than the Germans did.  

Our “red overalls” are now gunning for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has left himself wide open with the Phala Phala farm scandal. The unprotected Eskom strike, a contributor to the recent stage 6 load-shedding, is probably part of the campaign to have him  removed. As a society we are entering exceptionally dangerous times.

James Cunningham
Camps Bay

JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Send us an email with your comments to letters@businesslive.co.za. Letters of more than 300 words will be edited for length. Anonymous correspondence will not be published. Writers should include a daytime telephone number.​

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