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Should South Africans be optimistic?

26 December 2011, 08:19

Most South Africans rates their lives worse in 2011 than they have in the past several years. What do you think? Should South Africans be optimistic?

Since Nelson Mandela's release from prison in 1990,the last two decades have been the most crucial and eventful ones in South Africa's history. South Africa's Democracy is a society still very much in transition and provides outsiders looking in at South Africa an instrument with which to measure the political climate, to observe trends and developments, and to give input into the decision-making process of companies and political parties.

Although the process of change and political transition still remains difficult to define properly. As an emerging market democracy,special attention gets devoted by others as to their perceptions on pertinent issues such as the mood of all people in the country, optimism, economic well-being, social harmony and trust - all very essential elements to make South Africa work properly as a nation.

Prof. Ronald Inglehart, ISR, University of Michigan (USA) wrote:

"People live in the past far more than they realise. We interpret reality in terms of concepts an world views base on past experiences. This is inevitable-what we experience consist of millions of sensations,and we cannot focus on all of them. Making them coherent means abstracting a few simplified concepts that seem relevant to important goals."

South Africans generally holds very diverse opinions about the process and perceived success of transitional change. Yet despite the plethora of conflicting opinions about the magnitude of social change in the country since 1994,one consensual fact still remains: issues to with racism,inequality,poverty,high crime,murder,rape cuts right through the very bones of everyday South Africans.

Things uniquely South African:
A. Infrastructure...

1. The world's biggest hospital is the Chris Hani - Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. 

2. South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink. Its tap water is rated the third best worldwide. 

3. Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the world after Washington, D.C.

4. South Africa is the world's biggest producer and exporter of mohair. 

5. The rand, the world’s most actively traded emerging market currency, has joined an elite club of 15 currencies - the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) - where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones.

6. South Africa mines deeper than any other country in the world, up to depths of 2.5 miles at the Western Deep Levels Mine. 

7. It has the largest hydro-electric tunnel system in the world at the Orange Fish Rivers Tunnel. 

8. South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.

9. Electricity costs are the second lowest in the world. 

10. South Africa is the world's largest producer of macadamia nuts.

11. Officially, the youngest language in the world is Afrikaans. By the early-20th century Afrikaans had developed from Dutch, French and other influences into a fully fledged language with its own dictionary. After a mere 90 years, it is the second most spoken language in South Africa (Zulu is the most spoken, the Zulu people being the largest ethnic group). 

12. South Africa is the world's biggest producer of platinum, chromium, vanadium, manganese and alumino-silicates. It also produces nearly 40% of the world's chrome and vermiculite. 

13. Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. 

14. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa's electricity.

15. There are about 280,000 windmills on farms across South Africa, second in number only to Australia. 

16. The world's two largest platinum mines are located near Rustenburg.

17. While occupying 4% of Africa's landmass, South Africa boasts more than 50% of the cars, phones, automatic bank tellers and industrial facilities on the continent.

18. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), now rising from a Karoo koppie in Sutherland is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere (and third largest in the world).

19. South Africa is a middle income country with a strong emerging economy – the 25th largest in the world - and produces more goods than Portugal, Russia or Singapore. It also has Africa’s biggest economy, three times larger than Nigeria or Egypt. 

20. South Africa has the fourth largest coal reserves in the world. Its coal industry ranks sixth in the world in terms of output of hard coal and third in terms of seaborne international coal trade. 

21. Currently, South Africa is the only country in the world that has voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal.

22. South Africa has 19,004 miles of railway track - 80% of Africa's rail infrastructure.

23. South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean, featuring Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cinsault, Riesling, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage varietals.

B.Travel and Nature...

1.The Kruger National Park nature reserve supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. It is roughly the size of Wales, or the state of Massachusetts (USA), which makes it the eighth largest reserve in the world.

2. Home to one of the world's 6 floral kingdoms, South Africa has one-tenth (23 200) of the world's flowering plants, of which nearly 19 000 are endemic, making it the richest region in the world in terms of species to area - 1.7 times richer even than Brazil. It is the only country in the world to contain an entire floral kingdom.

3. It is home to more kinds of mammals than North and South America combined; or Europe and Asia together. 

4. South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per square kilometer, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.

5. Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Standing at just over 1000 metres, it dominates the city's skyline. Table Mountain can be seen as far as 200 kilometres out to sea. 

6. South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.

7. Paarl is South Africa's third oldest town and home to KWV Cellars- the largest wine cellar in the world (covering 22 hectares). 

8. Kimberley's 'Big Hole' is the largest hand-dug hole in the world and is deeper than Table Mountain is high. Kimberley also has the only drive-in pubs in the world.

9. Mpumalanga province is home to the Blyderiver Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world - and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the U.S. is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are very dry.

10. The Tugela Falls in KwaZulu Natal, at 948m (3110ft), is the second highest waterfall in the world.

11. The world's best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus, Western Cape.

12. Mossel Bay is in the Guinness Book of records as having the second most moderate climate in the world.

13. Seal Island in False Bay is the only place in the world where Great Whites consistently breach (leap completely out of the water) to catch their prey, mainly seals. It also boasts the highest frequency of Great White shark attacks in the world.

14. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.

15. According to 'Trivial Pursuit', Graaf-Reinett in the Western Cape has the world's biggest grapevine. 

16. Fossilized footprints were found at Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape, in a sand-dune-turned-rock. The 117,000 year-old fossils are the oldest known footprints of an anatomically modern human.

17. Most of the world's proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo region. 

18. The 2,02 billion year-old crater in Vredefort is the oldest known crater on Earth. The general estimate of its original diameter is roughly 300 km, which makes it the largest crater on the planet, as well. 

19. The Sterkfontein Caves, in Gauteng, is the site where the oldest human skeletal remains were found in the world (3,5 million years old). This is the place where the human race was born! 

20. Close to Oudtshoorn are the Cango Caves, a 3 km long sequence of caverns of glittering stalagmites and stalactites, which makes it the longest underground cave sequence in the world. 

21. The Boesmansgat is renowned as the second deepest sinkhole (about 299 metres) and the largest of its kind in the world. Many attempts have been made at world records in cave-diving in this exceptional sinkhole. 

22. The St. Lucia estuarine system, in Kwazulu Natal, is the largest estuarine system in Africa. 

23. South Africa is home to the world's smallest succulent plants (less than 0.39 inches) and the largest (the baobab tree).


1. South Africa has the second oldest Film Industry in the world. 

2. The Cape Argus Cycle Tour is the largest timed cycle race in the world. 

3. South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.

4. South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world (710 feet).

5. M-Net is Africa's largest pay television service, delivering 24-hour programming to dozens of countries across the continent. 

6. South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, The Rovos Rail.

7. The Lost City Resort is the largest thermal resort in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere. 

D.Military History...

1. South Africa has the world's second oldest air force, established 1920. 

2. The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) was the first war of the 20th century and saw the introduction of trench warfare, the first large-scale use of concentration camps for non-combatants, and the most prolonged period of guerrilla warfare by a conquered nation's military against a victorious army.

3. Camouflage was first used in battle by the Boers, who used camouflaged trenches and adapted battledress to blend into treeless landscapes.

4. The world's first news footage and propaganda films were shot during the Anglo-Boer War. 

5. Technologically, it saw the first use of a generation of weapons that are still with us today - automatic handguns, magazine-fed rifles, and machine guns. 

6. The Guinness Book of Records lists the Anglo-Boer War as Britain's most costly war outside of the two World Wars.


1. The Rand Refinery is the largest refinery of gold in the world. 

2. The South African oil company SASOL has established the only commercially proven oil from coal operations in the world. 

3. The world's biggest producer of non-fuel minerals is South African company Anglo-American Corporation.

4. The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is believed to be the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students. 

5. Eskom, the national electricity utility, is the world's fourth largest in terms of both sales volume and normal capacity. 

6. The De Beers Group of companies control more than 80% of the world supply of rough diamonds. 

7. SABMiller ranks as the largest brewing company in the world by volume. It supplies up to 50% of China's beer.

8. Samancor Limited is the world's largest producer by sales of manganese and chrome products. 

9. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the 9th best performing stock market in 2010, according to the World Federation of Exchanges.

10. Stellenbosch University was the first university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite.

11. South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz C Class, right-hand drive vehicles.

12. KSDP Pentagraph is rated as the world's second best design company by British design magazine, 'Creative Review'. The company is responsible for the new-look packaging of 'Fanta' and design modifications of 'Coca-Cola' soft drinks worldwide.


Right now,South Africa is a one-party state. Since their first democratic elections in 1994, the South African Parliament has been controlled by the African National Congress,the party of Mr. Mandela,Mr. Mbeki and Mr. Zuma,which controls 69.7 percent of the popular vote.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu pointed out the danger for South Africa,when he said that South Africa needed “a viable opposition party” because “democracy flourishes where there is a vigorous debate.”Does the fate of a viable two-party system in South Africa rest on the shoulders of the DA.We have to wait and see! South African politics has always been tribal even under the Apartheid Government.

Before the 1994 democratic elections the National Party was for white Afrikaners,the remnants of the former Progressive Party was for white English-speaking South Africans,the Inkatha Freedom Party for Zulu nationalists, and the ANC for predominantly Xhosa speaking South Africans. Whether or not rebirth by meiosis will ever succeeds in South Africa won’t be known for quite some time.


Professor Michael Savage,a sociologist at the University of York in England,wrote this about South African politicians:

"Theft,fraud and violence,South African MP's do it all. A culture of impunity has made the South African parliament one of the most scandal-ridden governments in the world whereby MP's are arrested for drunken driving,shoplifting,fraud and varied corruption offences.

Of the 535 MPs, 29 have been found guilty of domestic violence, 7 have been arrested for fraud, 19 have been accused of bouncing fraudulent cheques,117 have been involved in at least two businesses that have gone bankrupt,71 cannot obtain a credit card because of their bad credit ratings,14 have been arrested on drug-related charges,8 have been arrested for shoplifting,84 have been arrested for drunken driving.

Tony Yengeni,the former chief whip of the ANC,who was convicted for fraud in 2003 while chairing the country's defence committee said this of their ANC elite of which he's  part of:"What does the high court got to do with my life? I don't have to ask permission from them to do certain  things...

When asked about his numerous luxury cars which includes a MASERATI and two BMW's he replied "many other people have cars including white people who still have all the wealth of this country".

For those brought up in the townships politics becomes the doorway to self-enrichment.Survivalism in SA is seen as political entitlement. Few MP's ever goes to prison.

H.Behaviour and attitude towards the commercial farming sector...

In a press interview,world famous chef,Gordon Ramsay,said South Africa had some of the world's best food, with a "wonderful country in which to grow it - good climate, top-quality farms, a superb variety of the most exotic vegetables and fruits and world-class meat".

The BBC on the other hand ran a series entitled "Cooked" - in one edition, South African Justin Bonella visited the Ceres district and spoke to the Du Toit's whose family has farmed fruit for four generations. The dried fruit industry is big on the family's agenda - they export to 20 countries, and their quality is top class.

Precision farming, attention to detail, good marketing and plain old hard work have catapulted this family and others in the district to the point where the BBC films their lives to show around the world.

Contiguous with the partying, the publicity and the international TV programmes,the ANC government was granted leave to appeal a court ruling prohibiting the singing of a so-called ANC "liberation song" urging people to "kill the Boer".(Boer being the Afrikaans word for farmer).

Julius Malema,their former ANC Youth League leader, sang that song openly, publicly, brazenly, with no thought of the consequences there off.Taken to court by concerned organizations, Malema was ordered to stop. He ignored the court's injunction, and continued singing.

He sought leave to appeal, and was supported by none other than the ruling ANC government. In other words, the ANC government supported the exhortation to shoot South African farmers who EACH feed 1 100 people every day, and who keep the incompetent and venal ANC in power.

It's not as if Malema's words mean nothing - farm murders in South Africa are so high as to make South African commercial farmers the most murdered group in the world outside a war zone!

When the ANC defends its support for a court appeal on the grounds that the song is "part of their heritage", then what sort of a heritage is that? Their song was distinctive in its motives, and directed at farmers: the IBhunu (the Boer) was always singled out as the ANC's military wing's enemy.

This fact can be confirmed by reading any transcript of Radio Freedom broadcasts from Africa in the seventies and eighties. "Dubula iBhunu" means shoot the farmer and there are no ambiguities - and there is no ambiguity either about the fact that the South African government supports this! A strange and insidious the ANC Government is indeed!

South African farmers are already on the ropes - dairies receive only 38% of the retail price of milk, apple farmers get 32% of the retail price while a wheat farmer receives only 20% of the price a consumer pays for a loaf of bread, according to the Standard Bank.

A 2011 study by Vinpro showed that a grape farmer made a profit of 44c on a bottle of wine while a profit of R1,07 is the sustainable minimum. Farmers carry the largest risk in the value chain, says Standard Bank.

Grain consumption in the developing world,including South Africa, has increased 80% over the past 30 years, while the amount of meat each person consumes has doubled over the past three years.

Corn is being diverted to the production of ethanol - in the year 2 000 only 6% of America 's corn harvest was used to manufacture ethanol - now about 40% is. Will the ANC Government be importing corn from the US?

Can the ANC Government itself produce food for 50 million people, given that they are gradually usurping the land? Do they intend importing food after they have driven many commercial farmers from their land?

The signs are there that importing food may not be an option! About 925 million people go to bed hungry every night, while every day, there are 219,000 more mouths to feed. In 2010-2011, the world consumed more grain than it produced. Globally, food costs 39% more than it did a year ago.

The Green Light for nationalization...

The ANC's socialistic National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as outlined in the Freedom Charter carries on, despite the lavish capitalistic lifestyles of the ruling elite! Julius Malema and his friends call for "taking back the farms" because as non-producers by nature, they need to continually feed on an ever-shrinking cake.

Land has always been in their sights, whether taking it and ruining it makes sense or not. It is good politics to talk about taking back the land and it worked in Zimbabwe .

Too late the masses realized they had been hoodwinked, as they are now being bamboozled in South Africa, swept up by Malema and other ANC cadres' anti-white crusades, fuelled by poverty, government ineptitude and an innate sense of entitlement: it's "someone else's fault" they are in the current predicament! The commercial farmers are a very convenient scapegoat!

Farmers were shocked to learn that the ANC government is willing to amend the Constitution for the sake of land redistribution.

South Africa's National Democratic Revolution's policy originally trumpeted that land "reform" would benefit "the people",but since 2006 the government take to buying up farms and then leasing them out,has in the process,spent over $3,7 billion(US) buying up farms, but much of the land has not been allocated to anyone.

That meant that vast areas are standing unused or that a handful of people are getting great windfalls from the national fiscus.

Are you generally optimistic, or pessimistic?

More than 60 percent of young South Africans think the country is heading in the wrong direction and that the country is in long-term decline.They also believe the country's political system is dysfunctional.
If you had to put forward your own personal advice for South Africans going forward into one sentence what would it be:

Relax,We’ll be fine, or Find shelter,the worst is yet to come?

How do South Africa compare to other countries regarding optimism vs pessimism:

Americans were 45% optimistic, 51% pessimistic
South Korea: 15% optimistic, 82% pessimistic
Italy,France and Germany was evenly split: 45% optimistic to 45% pessimistic
Japanese were 12% optimism, 45% pessimism.
Lebanon 7% to 77%
China was 68% to 7%
India at 55% to 30%
South Africa was 62% optimistic to 30% pessimistic 

Among the most optimistic people in our world are South Africans and Australians says a BBC report.

South Africans and Australians are among some of the most optimistic people surveyed. South Africans are remarkably optimistic about their family (65%) and their country (62%) and lean positive about the world (44%/33%).

Australians are nearly as optimistic about their family (54%) and as optimistic about their country (61%), however they swing more negative about the world (31% getting better, 45% getting worse) compared to South Africans.

Unemployment Is South Africans' Biggest Concern...

A Gallup poll recently showed that South Africa's unemployment rate at more than 25% was the highest Gallup measured across more than 100 countries in 2011. The country lost about 1 million jobs between 2008 and 2009, or about 8% of the national workforce. The South African economy contracted in 2009, while household indebtedness grew more than double.


By contrast, in neighboring Zimbabwe, economic growth has been strong after the government shifted to dollarization (use of hard currencies) to battle hyperinflation in 2009. While Zimbabwean leaders still have work to do on the country's economy, the dollarization of the economy has improved the lives of Zimbabweans.

What then...

In light of the sheer size of the job cuts, it is, perhaps, unsurprising that a lack of jobs is what South Africans say is the most important concern their families face. But what may be surprising is that even those who rate their lives higher on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, say this too.

Those who rate their present lives at the bottom of the scale are far more likely than others to identify poverty or a lack of money another pressing problem.

South Africans, irrespective of their life evaluation ratings, express similar levels of concern about overall inflation, increases in food prices, and dearth of basics such as food and water.

South Africans' consumer confidence, according to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence latest release, has improved recently, especially on the dimension of employment expectations.

Most South Africans rates their lives worse in 2011 than they have in the past several years.What do you think?


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