About a month ago, the South African government raised the minimum threshold for black ownership of mining companies from 26% to 30%.
It’s called “black empowerment” or “affirmative action” and is intended to provide black people with greater access to wealth, education, and to correct the inequality created by the white-led government who relinquished power in 1994 – 23 years ago.
I got a message from a buddy who runs a global macro fund, asking me for my opinion on buying the selloff which naturally occurred in the South African mining stocks. I’ll provide you with the gist of my response here. I’ll speak about South Africa but much of what applies to SA applies to the entire continent.
I know a thing or two about Africa – the natural consequence of being a “child of the land” and having traveled the continent extensively and done business there.
Obviously, I don’t know everything, maybe even a whole lot, but here’s what I do know.
The bright spots in Africa, as dim as they are, are mean reverting. What this means is that – despite what the social justice warriors may tell you or the do-gooders with an immense sense of civic pomposity who try to convince us all that’s required to fix Africa’s problems is a kind heart and a healthy donation – this is not only counterproductive, but destructive and frankly stupid.
The problem is that, unlike in the West where your donation to Sally-Ann next door (who’s raising money for a homeless shelter, or that new football club for your local community) actually finds its way to the intended cause, this never happens in Africa. The kids will still have flies on their faces but the army will have bigger guns and Swiss bankers will get to upgrade their Audis.
An entire industry has sprung up around this nonsense with NGOs, and, of course you and I don’t have a say in the money forcefully taken from us via taxation and given to these sclerotic and parasitic organisations such as the UN, which is nothing more than a power station for converting money into nothing at all.
What we do have a say in is where we place our investment dollars so this article deals with that.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but when an African dictator is overthrown… usually by a well intentioned liberator, he, at least for the first few years, is treated as a hero… those well intentioned liberators quickly become dictators themselves. Nobody seems to realise this even though it happens with greater consistency than gravy.
Nelson Mandela was a rare divergence from this trend, but if you cared to look under the covers, you’d have noticed that those surrounding him were, without exception complete lunatics. The country went from being governed by white lunatics to having a generation of relative calm, but is now hurtling rapidly towards the abyss. It’s now governed by a new set of lunatics – this time black. It’s said that it only takes a generation to go from civilisation to barbarism, and South Africa is a fascinating case in point.
The discovery that the schools, universities, and the country are being run by farm animals is plain for everyone to see, though it’s considered highly racist to say so. Stupid is as stupid says no matter the colour of your skin.
Consider the Farm Animals in Charge
President Jacob Zuma:
This continent is the biggest continent in the world. All continents put together will fit into Africa.
Someone fetch this man an atlas please…
Not all that visit our beautiful country come with the right intention, as they did 2,000 years ago by the person named van Riebeeck. He overstayed.
Here he’s referring to Jan Van Riebeek, who was a Dutch colonialist who founded Cape Town. Jan was born in 1619 and died in 1677. 2,000 years?
KwaZulu-Natal MEC Nomusa Dube:
We will do an investigation and talk to the Department of Science and Technology on what is the cause of the lightning, and if it only happened to the previously-disadvantaged as I have never seen any white people being struck by lightning.
I kid you not when I say that medieval thinking is prevalent. Fellow hedgies don’t believe me… until they go and actually live there and only then they do.
EFF leader Julius Malema:
There’s no system that has worked successfully for Africans, except the Zimbabwean system.
Well, I guess it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
If the outright collapse of your economy, the murder of those with business skills and knowledge, which in Africa largely means white people, and the impoverishment of an entire nation is your objective, then yeah sure it’s the best system ever.
President Jacob Zuma:
A shower would minimise the risk of contracting the disease (HIV/AIDS).
Someone spread the word! Install showers everywhere. Why, oh why, didn’t we think of trying that?
Former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang:
Shall I repeat garlic, shall I talk about beetroot, shall I talk about lemon… these delay the development of HIV to Aids-defining conditions, and that’s the truth.
Got it! Garlic, beetroot, lemon, and showers – dynamite combination. Someone bottle this and patent it quick because GlaxoSmithKline will pay you millions for the recipe.
God expects us to rule this country because we are the only organisation which was blessed by pastors when it was formed. It is even blessed in Heaven. That is why we will rule until Jesus comes back. We should not allow anyone to govern our city [Cape Town] when we are ruling the country.
Anytime someone refers to a celestial power of any description providing them authority over you, you can be damn sure they’re delusional. Ask yourself this: if you were seated on a bus next to someone who turned to you and said that he’d been getting messages from God, Allah, Yahweh, or whatever their chosen celestial dictator, would you want to move closer or further away?
The late minister of safety and security, and the former minister of justice and constitutional development, Penuell Maduna were confronted with a statistic that said “one person is raped in South Africa every 26 seconds” on the American television program “60 minutes”. And in the typical ANC way, they attempted, but embarrassingly debunked the obvious rape problem of South Africa as exaggerated. See their illogical and indiscreet response beneath:
“We’ve been standing here for 26 seconds and nobody has been raped.”
Like almost all government “plans” affirmative action does the exact opposite of what we’re told it’s intended to do. It solidifies racism as a policy and awards and punishes people based not on their skills, intellect, or talents but on their skin colour which is by its very definition racism.
As a result, people fill positions when they are wholly unqualified to do so. What those who support the concept of affirmative action fail to understand is that equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of outcomes. It’s Atlas Shrugged in real time.
Is there a solution?
Of course, but it’s unlikely to be used.
The truth is the Europeans cocked up Africa when colonising it by ramming differing cultures and ethnic groups together into what are today referred to as “countries” but the various ethnic groups that exist bear no resemblance to any of these countries. It’s why Africa’s borders will continue to be redrawn. This normally involves the sort of problems involving men running around blowing chunks out of each other with heavy artillery, or chopping each other up with pangas ( the name for machetes in Africa).
South Africa is in the process of mean reverting to look like its neighbouring countries north of the border. Until or unless South Africa, and indeed much of the rest of Africa, develop an entirely new framework beginning with redrawn borders and including a system allowing for the creation of collateral, we’re fighting an uphill battle and the trend is most certainly not our friend.
The truth is Africa, like much of the Middle East, will continue to lurch from one disaster to another. This is unsurprising since the thing these regions share with one another is that their political, economic, social, and cultural systems are by all accounts medieval. They’re completely backward and destructive.
How to “Go Long” South Africa (and Africa in General)
Speculating after the inevitable crashes can yield double digit returns but not without risk, and make sure you don’t overstay your welcome. Investing for the long haul, on the other hand, is betting against the underlying fundamentals and trends and only likely to bring you more pain than a good dose of genital sores.
The way to play it is by using old fashioned logic. Africa will continue to be run by people not slightly but profoundly unqualified to walk your dog let alone manage a country.
What this means is that the supply of stupidity will increase as will the steady volume of refugees who will head for the welcoming arms of Merkel’s Europe, the welfare benefits, and the soft life that Africa could only hope to provide. They’ll do this after finding they have no idea how to run businesses they’ve been given and finding themselves hungry and in danger from the inevitable tribal and ethnic conflicts which erupt under such conditions. This will continue.
What it means is that what Africa produces, other than misery, will go through continuous bouts of supply problems. This will be reflected in their currencies. You can short them on run ups and buy them for a bounce on the inevitable crashes.
Here is the Greenback vs the South African rand:
But the best way to play Africa is to buy the stuff they produce since it’s a given that it will come under all sorts of constraints such as affirmative action, nationalisation, outright theft like in Zimbabwe, and any number of other harebrained schemes that they come up with.
Gold, cobalt, platinum, coffee – you get the picture. This is I believe the safest way to play Africa and right now may not be a bad time to “go long Africa”.
“We learn from history that we don’t learn from history!” ― Desmond Tutu