South Africa v UK . Where to live?

This article is being written at the time of the Corona virus lockdown; when we emerge on the other side we will arrive at a very different scenario for both countries.
I was born in Manchester UK and moved to South Africa in 1973. My son and family recently moved to London so I’ve absorbed some of their feelings about their move; I have family living in rural Wales and built up London and friends in Manchester. By the same token I have family and friends in South Africa and an established life style.
There’s no doubt that people in UK are better off financially than in South Africa. The advantage I have is that I receive pensions from Europe and benefit from continually receiving more Rands as they devalue on an on-going basis. It would be debateable whether I could survive in UK financially with its much higher cost of living. Before Corona Virus UK had 3% unemployment and SA 30%, so if you want to work in UK you have far more opportunities. There are 17 million people on social grants in South Africa, what sort of system is that? The Government budgeted R175bn in social grants and R553bn is received from individual tax payers. The Government annually tells everyone that they have a job creation plan but it’s all talk and no action, something SA is good at. Thanks to the corrupt, incompetent, irresponsible state captured Zuma regime with its bloated, grossly inefficient bureaucracy the Government Debt to GDP is now 66%. But hang on, the UK is 86.6%!! So who has the worst Government? There’s no accountability in South African society, no one has yet to go to jail for gross corruption , and the ANC has fostered a culture of entitlement which has now come back to bite them in the foot. In SA every state owned entity from Eskom to SAA is losing huge amounts of money and to date are given bail outs by the Government despite promises of reform The result after 26 years of ANC is a highly discontented population trapped in poverty which overflows into violence and demonstrations against service delivery as the infrastructure continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. How can a country hand over its public transport to minibus taxis run by a bunch of criminals? In UK things work, the public transport is excellent but expensive, day to day things like renewing passports and car license are done on line and the Post Office is a national treasure . Cities in UK are smart whilst in SA they are just dumb. The result is that the city centres of Durban and Johannesburg are deteriorating, dirty and crime ridden and the centres of commerce are now in the newly built areas of Umhlanga Rocks and Sandton. If you want to do anything like renew your passport, driving licence or car license you’re in for a long day of queuing.
SA has a murder rate of 318 per million whilst UK has a rate of 11. Many people like me opt to live in gated communities with 24 hour guards in order to escape the on-going threat of robberies and worse. Once someone has experienced an armed robbery or hi jacking their first wish is to leave the country if they are able to.
For young people far more opportunities for higher education exist in UK and consequently jobs and careers. In 26 years the ANC have not narrowed the gap between township schooling and so called model C schools. Universities in SA continue to be trashed academically and structurally. There’s always private schooling and college at a price.
In South Africa there is a two tier health system, private and Government. If you are fortunate to have medical aid then you have excellent first class prompt health care. The Government system is a much more hit and miss affair. The plan is to convert to an NHI system in the forthcoming years but where the money is coming from remains to be seen. My perception of the UK NHI system is that it’s very much a postcode lottery, good in some areas and bad in others. If you want a non-life threatening procedure to be carried out then you must be prepared to wait for ages.
I believe that race relations in SA are not bad. However, there are always politicians and others who will play the race card whenever all else fails. But in day to day living you are not likely to come across antagonism if you are white; often the opposite, friendliness and a smile.
So why would anyone choose to stay in South Africa if there was a possibility to live in UK. The climate in SA is just about perfect to enable an outdoor way of life all year round. With the exception maybe of skiing it’s possible to do any sport and with a far lower population there are deserted beaches, mountains and wide open spaces. SA has it all and is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. There’s a free and easy culture with braais and informal entertainment and affordable restaurants, coffee shops and pubs. Then there’s Game Reserves whether the upmarket or more affordable Government Parks. South Africans are an adventurous bunch and enjoy the outdoor life. They are also innovative and don’t look to the Government, they do it themselves. ‘Boer maak n’ plan’ meaning ” farmer makes a plan” UK has cultured cities with wonderful galleries and museums and historic architecture and the countryside is wonderful in summer. But summer lasts for four months; the rest of the time the weather is miserable. On a sunny weekend it’s often impossible to get to a beach or the mountains as the roads are choca block. UK is very crowded and it’s difficult to find a quiet spot. The Aussies call the Brits whingeing Poms and there’s an element of truth in that. They are never satisfied; maybe it’s the Nanny State that has produced that. Life in UK is humdrum and can be uninspiring and drab.
My friend recently asked me when was I going to live in UK . My reply was “Let’s wait and see” and his response was “That’s what the Jews said in Nazi Germany in 1938”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *