SA cautioned over World Cup euphoria

2010-02-10 14:08

South Africa’s euphoria over the world cup should not make it lose

perspective on the problems it faced beyond 2010, a political analyst said

today.

Fanie du Toit, executive director of the Institute for Justice and

Reconciliation (IJR), was speaking at the launch in Cape Town of the institute’s

2009 transformation audit.

The audit is meant to measure progress towards a more inclusive

economy, which the IJR says is a fundamental building block for

reconciliation.

Du Toit said President Jacob Zuma, who delivers his state of the

nation address tomorrow, had a far more difficult task than last year.

Although economists were proud of how South Africa’s small economy

had withstood the financial crisis, the “political imperatives” had not gone

away and expanding the economy was going to be harder.

“It’s going to be interesting to see how he balances idealism and

realism now in the run-up to the world cup; idealistic language, visionary

language, unity... on the one hand, and on the other hand saying we are in for

tough times,” Du Toit said.

“South Africans seem to expect that the world cup will produce

manna from heaven for us, and it seems it’s not going to do that.

“It’s going to be wonderful in terms of all sorts of [other] things

but it’s not going to produce a radical financial dividend to the extent that

South Africans have anticipated.

“It’s a bit of a sobering picture.”

Du Toit said the global financial crisis had eroded the resources

at South Africa’s disposal, and its ability to address the yawning gulf of

inequality in society.

“We have less room to manoeuvre,” he said.

“Though we’ve had quite a nice balance sheet for the past ten

years, the questions are about how efficiently we’ve used it.”

The biggest wastage seemed to have been in the education field,

where South Africa had proportionately the biggest budget allocation of “just

about any country in the world”.

However, it had not seen a dividend.

“So the question is, how do we use what we’ve got? And we’ve got

less to use this year.”

The institute’s programme manager for political analysis Jan

Hofmeyr said it would be unwise for Zuma to underplay the structural

difficulties and challenges facing South Africa.

Priority number one in addressing these difficulties was human

resource development: underperforming primary and secondary education systems

and their knock-on effect on tertiary education.


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