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Jun 9, 2020

Essay on Future of South Africa

For bad or good, or for better or worse, the future of South Africa is becoming clearer. Now that South Africa's future becomes clearer, we can all plan better.

All the estimates indicate that the South African economy is effectively in a recession, or it is going to undergo a serious recession. These triple-challenges, as government terms the trio (i.e. inequality, poverty, and unemployment), are all a function of the structure of the economy as many have said, although some do not share the view that unemployment in South Africa is structural. Of course, there are other problems, such as the poor management of public finances, which accentuate economic challenges in South Africa.

Only in 2005 the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) was unveiled, replacing the 1996 Growth, Employment, and Redistribution (GEAR) Framework. Asia was meant to grow the economy and ensure that the fruits of the growing economy got widely shared across society. Around the same time, there was an Antipoverty Campaign Programme which had been proposed by the Antipoverty Strategy for South Africa.

The Policy Coordination and Advisory Services (PCAS) in the Presidency were playing an important role as a think-tank and coordinating the major initiatives of the government. Another important initiative that was significantly debated within the government was the proposed set of interventions to circumvent South Africa plunging deeply into the economic recession just as the whole world was entering a global financial crisis. The government had established a team, within the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac).

The recall of former President Thabo Mbeki (and his resignation) unleashed untold consequences for the work that the government was busy with. The Zuma administration or the African National Congress decided to start afresh in government. All that was thrown away and the government started afresh ending up with a National Health Insurance and the Employment Incentive Scheme that are not linked (besides that the Social Health Insurance that had been designed had a risk equalization component and also prioritized the need for improvements in the public healthcare system).

zebra of south africa

When AsgiSA was sidelined, immediately after Zuma came to office, the New Growth Path was unveiled as the government's new economic development framework. The Zuma administration made one of its biggest mistakes that are costing the country dearly by killing an important coordination function in government. It quickly became clear that coordination had been sacrificed in government.

We know enough about the problems in government and I think many would agree that the fundamental problem constraining the work of government is poor coordination. Whether President Zuma is recalled or not, or no matter who becomes the next president of the ANC, it is increasingly clear that South Africa is headed for a coalition government in the next general elections. We are looking at a coalition national government of new unity made up of the ANC, the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

It might very well be that the national dialogue that has been launched by the various National Foundations would come up with a better development agenda for our country, or at least it is a step towards a social pact/compact that many have been calling for. To avoid society descending to complete chaos-- and what some fear to be a looming civil war-- a new national agenda could help to focus the energies of society to something more important. Of course, this would be a new political compromise for the country. Just like as many attributes our inability to advance wellbeing effectively in the post-apartheid dispensation to the political compromise/settlement that brought about democracy, it might be that we would never decisively deal with apartheid colonialism as the new coalition national government would be ideologically divided. It might very well be that we would have to wait for a long time for a leader that would be able to emerge above all others.

As the society disintegrates-- looking at deteriorating race relations and tribal politics in particular as well as an economy that is falling apart and endless public protests-- we should probably find solace to the fact that we are dealing with something that is relatively clear and the future of the country is increasingly clearer.

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