Sunday, March 21, 2010

Two 20-Year stories compared

At the end of the Second World War, in 1945, Germany was totally destroyed.  Buildings were levelled with the ground, and the economy was down to the basics of scraping around on the floor for a piece of bread.

The country was divided up by the occupying nations, who also took away anything that was deemed valuable. 

The Allies confiscated intellectual privileges of huge value, such as all German patents, both in Germany and abroad, and used them to strengthen their own industrial competitiveness by licensing them to Allied companies.[5][6] Meanwhile some of the best German researchers were being put to work in the Soviet Union and in the U.S.

From 1939 to 1945, Nazi Germany waged total war. In 1945, the nation faced total defeat. An estimated 3.5 million German soldiers were dead or missing, along with some 750,000 civilians. Millions more were crippled or imprisoned. Food was scarce. Inflation was rampant. Refugees were everywhere. Allied bombs had flattened 25 percent of Germany's available housing. An entire district in Hamburg had to be walled in to prevent the spread of diseases from the corpses piled there.

The country was razed to the ground, and looted by the Allies for all of it’s material and intellectual wealth.  Germany was cut up into four occupied zones, and later divided into two separate countries, called West Germany and the DDR (“Democratic” Republic of East Germany). 

The joke in the eighties was “if a country’s name has the word “democratic” in it, it isn’t.”

Contrary to popular belief, the Marshall Plan, which was extended to also include the newly formed West Germany in 1949, was not the main force behind the Wirtschaftswunder.[7][8]

Had that been the case, other countries such as Great Britain and France (which both received higher economic assistance from the plan than Germany) should have experienced the same phenomenon.

In fact, the amount of monetary aid (which was in the form of loans) received by Germany through the Marshall Plan was far overshadowed by the amount the Germans had to pay back as war reparations and by the charges the Allies made on the Germans for the ongoing cost of occupation (about $2.4 billion per year).

In 1953 it was decided that Germany was to repay $1.1 billion of the aid it had received. The last repayment was made in June 1971.

In less than 20 years after being declared fully sovereign, Germany had paid back all it’s debt, and ranked number 4 in terms of largest GDP in the world.

On 5 May 1955 West Germany was declared "fully sovereign". The British, French and U.S. militaries remained in the country, just as the Soviet Army remained in East Germany. Four days after becoming "fully sovereign" in 1955, West Germany joined NATO. The U.S. retained an especially strong presence in West Germany, acting as a deterrent in case of a Soviet invasion. In 1976 West Germany became one of the founding nations of the Group of Six (G6).

In 1973, West Germany which was home to roughly 1.26% of the world's population featured the world's fourth largest GDP of 944 billion (5.9% of the world total). In 1987 the FRG held a 7.4% share of total world production.

What an amazing tale.  In 1990, after re-unification, West Germany had to also take up the additional burden of rectifying all the damage that communism had done to East Germany.  Never once did they wait for someone else to do it.  They did not sit around and blame the Allies for destroying their country, and thereby claiming some magical right to foreign aid.  They just made their hands dirty, lifted their chins up, and worked.

In contrast to this, there is Namibia.  In 1989, still under South African control, this country had an average life expectancy of over 60 years and unemployment of 25%.  Even during the long bush-war in the North of the country, the life expectancy rate was climbing steadily every year. 

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Crime was something that people only heard of – something that happened in other countries.  The biggest crime that featured, was in the form of bombings and landmines planted on farms by Swapo terrorists.  People parked their cars in the middle of the city without locking them, and no one had burglar bars or alarm systems.  Armed response was unheard of because the Police were competent and efficient, and they knew how to take fingerprints and how to do basic stuff like take down sworn declarations and making signatures.

The much hated South African government left behind a legacy of schools, hospitals, roads, railway lines, and an impressive water  and electrical supply infrastructure that was considered to be among the best in Africa, if not in the southern hemisphere.

Namibia now celebrates 20 years of so-called “independence”.  The government still begs for handouts from Germany (how ironic), the USA and China, to name a few.  Actually they don’t beg, they demand

Some of the state-funded organisations like the national airline and the NBC broadcasting Corporation, had to be bailed out numerous times due to bad management. 

The Transnamib railway corporation is considered a joke, and also struggles to keep itself financially viable.  Chinese trains stand around doing nothing because parts and competent maintenance staff are not available for them.  All over the country old water supply schemes that were built by the “previous regime” struggle to continue providing water, because maintenance and capital spending is insufficient.

In a normal everyday working environment, people address each other as “comrades” during meetings, and those who don’t use this kind of socialist label are frowned upon as racist imperialists.

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But there has been progress.

The Swapo government has managed to double the unemployment rate in 20 years’ time.  (Before you applaud this as a good thing, it’s actually a figure that you might want to reduce.)

It currently runs at 51%, more than double the 25% that was left behind by the South African government.  This ranks among the 10 highest in the world.  Not quite something to celebrate.

Life expectancy is below the level that it was when a full-scale war was waging in the country’s Northern areas.

Just like Mugabe’s terrorist government, this government lives in a paranoiac state of confusion, and unseen enemies are always to blame for their failures.  They still live in a constant fear that the west will subversively force “regime change” on them, and their greatest dream is to re-instate previously-failed communist systems like collective farming.  Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are hailed as heroes of the “struggle”, and are lovingly entertained as special guests.

Today, a house without burglar bars is unmarketable.  Of course, this is only available to the very small elite group of rich and middleclass people, as the gap between rich and poor is growing without mercy.

Without armed response, your alarm system is pretty useless.  Electric fences and barbed wire are considered fashionable.  You will not be able to own a car without an alarm and immobiliser for more than a day.  Even your wheels get stolen off your car if you’re not careful.

When you call the police, they take half an hour to answer, and respond by informing you that they don’t have a vehicle to their disposal.  Going to a police station to make a sworn declaration will take at least a few hours of your time, because the police officer first has to scrape around to find a piece of paper and a pen, and then struggles to spell the word “burglary”.  Obtaining something as simple as a national Police Clearance Certificate takes at least four months.

On official registration papers, a fork lift is classified as a “fok left”.  One can clearly see that the government has created a great national educational system, and an awesome efficient public service.

Twenty years of utter failure and incompetence.  It’s not even fair to try to compare these two countries.

One may want to give this government more time – after all, 20 years go by so quickly.  But sadly, one cannot see that 10 years from now things are going to be any better.  The trend seems to go in the wrong direction.

2 comments:

Boer said...

Ek dink Suid-Korea is net so 'n goeie voorbeeld, indien nie beter nie.

Flat White said...

Good point - I totally agree with that one.