This is a country that Julius Malema praised for using its vast oil reserves "to uplift the masses", changing the lives of millions. It’s certainly true that Venezuela’s policies have changed the lives of millions, just not positively. Forget medicine, today you can’t even get bread, as government only imports 25% of the wheat needed to make bread. Queues start forming outside Caracas’s bakeries before dawn. Venezuela’s implosion, splashed across newspapers and TV screens this week, should be a cautionary tale for those in the ANC who believe that President Jacob Zuma’s increasingly populist tone is harmless. For years, the ruinous impact of the policies of former President Hugo Chavez (price controls, mandated minimum wages, for example) were masked by the high price of oil, which provided 95% of Venezuela’s export revenue. But the great oil price crash of 2014 laid bare just how reckless these policies are. It showed that populism does not give power to the people, but rather to e...

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