Analysis  >  Friday Briefing: Is SA a state in depression?

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SA's Great Depression

When Herbert Hoover became president of the United States in 1929, he had no idea that less than eight months later his country would be plunged into the Great Depression. Hoover attempted to spark growth in the economy through measures like the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, but these measures did little to solve the crisis.

By 1933, unemployment was at 25% and more than 5 000 banks had gone out of business. It was the worst economic worst recession the world had seen and Hoover couldn't get a second term. He is regarded one of the worst US presidents in history.

In South Africa there is no shortage of things to be depressed about: unemployment is up, emigration has spiked, Eskom is costing us more by the day, and our politicians are too busy fighting with each other and the state to pay attention. We might not be in a recession but our economy is growing less than 1% per year and President Ramaphosa is hamstrung by the legacy of state capture and ANC factional fighting.

After another week of excessively bad news passing over our screens, we take a beat to take stock of where South Africa is at, over halfway through 2019 – the year of the "new dawn".

Specialist reporter Mandy Wiener shows how the wheels of reform are turning slowly but surely, analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela looks at a remarkable improvement in one state department and Good Things Guy's Brent Lindeque gives a list of reasons to be positive about South Africa.

Happy reading.

Alet Janse van Rensburg 

News24 opinions editor

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 24: National Director

A state in depression? Finding the green shoots in SA

Mandy Wiener

The zeitgeist of the country is negative and pessimistic. Conversations are gloomy. Many of my contemporaries are either making plans to emigrate, have left or are at least getting their "Plan B" in order. I have found myself in numerous conversations lately, justifying reasons for staying. Panic about the future has set in. And yet, there are green shoots starting to show everywhere in our state.


Mpumelelo Mkhabela

We have multiple crises. Among them, unemployment (now at 29%), slow economic growth (projected to stay below 1%) and general decline of wellbeing.Those who are competent in areas where they are assigned duties in government and the private sector know what is the right thing to do in times like these. The opposite is true of those who lack competence, but enjoy the trappings of office and perks. Neither success nor failure is inevitable. It all depends on what we do to strengthen the hand of those who are prepared to do the right things. 


Mainstream media can often make us feel like we're on the losing side of a long battle with stories of racism, hate and crime filling our news feeds daily and making us feel such despair. But the truth is that those stories are only one side of the South African coin and in reality, we have so many things to celebrate.


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