Change is coming: Alarming projections on economics, violence and the ANC
South Africa is on an alarming downward spiral, and the current
violent protests could be a serious issue leading up to the August 3
This was the view of researchers at a seminar hosted by the
Institute for Security Studies – Violence, economics and the future of the ANC –
in Pretoria today.
Researchers Jakkie Cilliers and Ciara Aucoin described and forecast
three pathways to South Africa’s future in two new papers – a desirable Mandela
Magic high road, an uninspiring but most probable Bafana Bafana scenario, and an
alarming downward spiral called Nation Divided.
Public protests and violence levels are on the rise, mainly caused
by economic pressure and poor service delivery.
“Protests have become a part of daily life, increasing markedly
since 2010,” said Aucoin.
“What’s worrying is the growing number of them that are turning
Analysts raised concerns about structural inequality and the ruling
party’s incredibility and said that the country’s growing violence might or
might not be a serious issue in the August election.
“Election violence does not have deep roots in South Africa,” said
There was a significant drop – from two thirds in 2011 to one third
– of South Africans who trust the current president and a decline in trust of
public institutions over time, Afrobarometer 2015 survey results
“South Africans clearly want change,” said Aucoin.
“Elections have up to now been the main avenue for bringing about
change in South Africa. The test is whether the ANC can provide the leadership
to ensure this remains the case.”
ANC’s division of “conservatives’ and “reformers”, brought by the
power struggle, might soon place South Africa into a political revolution.
“These internal dynamics are arguably more important to watch than
the dynamics between the ANC and opposition parties,” said Cilliers.
During the local government elections in August this year, and then
in the 2019 and 2024 national elections, the public confidence would probably
continue to erode.
“The upcoming local elections in August will tell us what to expect
when the ANC elects its new president in 2017,” said Cilliers.
“Our most likely outcome sees the ANC lose its majority in Gauteng
in 2019, with a probable loss of the province to the Democratic Alliance in
2024, the year that sees ANC votes dip below a national majority.”
But all is not lost.
“South Africa has no choice but to build an inclusive economy that
deals with our historical legacy issues,” said Cilliers.
“This should be the primary focus of the government. But at the
same time, we need to invest in a knowledge economy to spur much more rapid
rates of growth – something that the current model of a developmental state
cannot deliver since it requires a close partnership with the private
They added that progress would come from increased investment in
the country’s technological innovation capacity and a reformed set of
Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment policies that allow for more targeted
approaches to structural disadvantage.
Due to the instability of South African leadership, its economy is
at high risk – on the downward curve for the future, said researchers.
Unified commitment to see change was the only solution to improve
the country’s current state.
South Africa is imbalanced, where wealth and extreme spending
co-exist with unemployment and inexorable poverty.
Relegation to the sub-investments position was likely by 2017 due
to the progressive weak economic growth and government departments that were
unable to deliver, the researchers said.
“This is enough of a challenge for any government,” said Cilliers,
head of African futures and innovation at the institute.
“Corruption and patronage at the top have made tackling inequality
almost impossible. And that’s before we factor in the policy incoherence and
lack of leadership from the ruling party.”
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