No country is an island on its own

2018-04-22 06:01


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Recent economic developments within and outside the country, including neighbouring Zimbabwe, have reminded us of a simple, yet profound, lesson.

The saying no man is an island applies to nations too – no country is an island on its own. Even countries that are islands in the literal sense open themselves up to external interaction and abide by the international rules of engagement.

Within the context of community or communal living, a popular expression is “Umntu, ngumntu ngabantu”, meaning a person is a person through other people.

A reminder, perhaps, that even for one’s own achievements, someone has had to play a part, make a contribution or even some form of sacrifice.

Perhaps within the context of the world, the concept of a global community further amplifies this concept.

In its simplest form the concept of globalisation is a clear representation of interdependence among countries and the interconnectedness of world markets.

What this presupposes is that the effects of what happens in Zimbabwe will be felt in South Africa and that when North Korea sneezes, Americans are likely to catch a cold.

In essence, therefore, no country can, on its own, without the trade and contribution of other countries, successfully prosper.

Any country that seeks to do so, whether by closing itself off from the rest of the world or by not abiding by the international rules of engagement, seeks only to instil upon its people, high levels of marginalisation and suffering.

Never has this been so true as in the case of our country’s experience with rating agencies in the recent past.

We may be turning the corner now, but the effects of some of the negative occurrences of the recent past will be felt by South Africans across all walks of life for some time to come. More so by the marginalised and poor, because the rich may be somewhat insulated from such effects.

South Africa has always been a subject of interest the world over.

In fact its reintegration into the rest of the world was as a result of international mobilisation, including sanctions that, with other measures, brought the apartheid system to its knees.

Recent actions by some among us almost relegated South Africa into the unenviable status of skunk of the world.

But, thanks to visionary people and progress by loving South Africans, an independent judiciary, an active civil society and a proactive media, the adventure was stopped before it could launch all of us into a dangerous plunge.

In a short space of time South Africa has started reaching out to the rest of the world, presenting itself as a reliable ally to do business with.

A lot of movement is taking place both in the public glare and behind the scenes to rebuild brand South Africa and relaunch it into the world’s market system as a nation of ethical men and women, eager to do business transparently and ethically with the rest of the world and attract the necessary investments. Already we can see the world reciprocating our manoeuvres and advances. The recent economic growth projections by the International Monetary Fund, which revised South Africa’s economic growth prospects to 1.5% in 2018 and to 1.7% in 2019 are indicative of this fact.

This economic growth forecast follows fresh on the heels of yet another positive forecast by the World Bank which raised its 2018 forecast from 1.1% to 1.4%, while it put the 2019 forecast at 1.8%, and 1.9% for 2020.

By the way, in these trying times, the all-important moment of reckoning is not peculiar only to South Africa.

Having recognised its shortcomings, our neighbours Zimbabwe are also in the process of some form of reform and are reopening themselves to the world, under the banner of Zimbabwe is open for business. And to make the point, one of the most glaring measures it took was to scrap the once contentious indigenisation programme which gave a 51% controlling stake in foreign-owned companies to local Zimbabweans. Such a move was said to have been a major impediment to investment as it meant that foreigners had to cede their controlling stake in their companies to locals.

With all the efforts and maneuvering, let no one be left behind.

Let each and every South African roll up his or her sleeves, take up their shovels and make a positive contribution as the country embarks on an anxiously exciting yet demanding project to rebuild brand South Africa.

It must not become a responsibility of leadership alone, clergy men and women or big business. No one must be left behind for no one is an island on their own.

As in the words of the scripture in Nehemiah 2: 17: “You see the trouble we are in; Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burnt with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and we will no longer be in disgrace.”

- Ntsaluba is executive chairperson of NMT Capital, co-founder of SizweNtsalubaGobodo and co-founder of WZCapital

Read more on:    zimbabwe

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