Editorial: If the state fails to plan...

2017-09-10 06:00

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Yes, the “technical” recession is over and, technically, we have economic growth again.

But, ultimately, there is little difference when economic growth is still low enough to have our per capita gross domestic product gradually yet constantly eroded each year.

This week’s announcement by Stats SA that our growth rate for the second quarter had reached 2.5% is cold comfort. It comes off such a low base that the notion of South Africa’s economy being out of recession holds little sway.

So, Stats SA’s positive figures should not lull anyone into a false sense of security or jubilation.

A drought can only end once, and the end of last year’s drought is by far the biggest mover in terms of numbers. This week’s positive figures reflect mainly the recovery of the agricultural sector.

Dig deeper, and even the positive numbers reflect a crisis. Compared with last year, manufacturing is still in decline and investment is still falling – any way you look at it. Mine bosses in Australia continue to criticise our mineral resources minister.

The pride and joy of our drive to create public-private partnerships – South Africa’s enormous private renewable power programme – is still in limbo. Those investors are also bad-mouthing their minister, who inexplicably decreed that all their contracts had to be renegotiated and then apparently went on holiday.

Our knowledge of the true extent of the highly concentrated corruption we call state capture keeps expanding, with exposés coming out daily. We are only now starting to appreciate how much money they stole – whoever ends up being part of “they”.

Can the government fix it? Probably not.

But it can stop making it worse.

We do not have to side with mine bosses and other investors. It is our country and we make the rules. The trick that we cannot seem to learn is this – once you make the rules and strike a deal, you really should stick to it.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has a 14-point plan. President Jacob Zuma had a nine-point plan. South Africa, as far as we know, still has a National Development Plan. All the while, it is becoming clear that only one plan matters to those with power – the succession plan.

This ship cannot stay on autopilot until December, much less until 2019.

Read more on:    stats sa  |  economy  |  recession

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