Pali Lehohla, South Africa’s statistician-general, has mounted a furious attack on African think-tank DaMina Advisors after it distributed a grimly negative report on South Africa’s economy following recent xenophobic violence.
The report, issued on April 22, was titled South Africa’s post-apartheid economic growth malaise unmasked in xenophobic riots: Real estate, a haven for wealthy foreigners, likely to see sharp price declines soon.
DaMina, which says it specialises in “frontier markets”, boasts a list of senior advisers headed by Lord Paul Boateng, a former UK chief secretary to the Treasury and a high commissioner to South Africa.
Other advisers include Elias Masilela, former chief executive of the Public Investment Corporation; Babacar Ndiaye, a former president of the African Development Bank; and Kabiné Komara, a former prime minister of Guinea.
Lehohla, who says he was alerted to the report by the presidency, takes issue with the report’s assertions that South Africa’s failure to achieve job-creating growth levels is the core reason for the xenophobic violence.
He also objects to the report’s claim that apartheid South Africa had a faster-growing economy than the post-1994 years and the xenophobic attacks will lead to investors relocating elsewhere on the continent.
“My response to this argument is that, having inspected the facts, nothing is further from the truth than this sensational story,” Lehohla writes.
Such is Lehohla’s fury that he lashes out at its advisers, saying he is convinced that “DaMina and, by implication, its advisory panel is an empty shell devoid of capacity of theory, methods, facts and moral authority on political systems”.
Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, DaMina’s managing director and chief analyst, was unapologetic when contacted by City Press.
“Our report was an internal report sent to our global clients – but also published on our website afterwards for those interested in our Africa research,” he said.
“We stand by our statistics, which are from the UN statistics agency, which show in US dollars that we are correct. If Pali were to convert his stats into US dollars, he will sadly come to the same conclusion,” Spio-Garbrah noted