5 Megatrends for South Africa in 2016 and Beyond

2015-12-11 11:33

"Whenever a single wave predominates in any given society, the pattern of the future development is relatively easy to discern. Writes, artists, journalists and commentators discover the wave of the future and alert society ahead of time". --Alvin Toffler: The Third Wave

During the course of the year I have been monitoring and cataloguing views, opinions and a broad range of ideas on our politics, economy and culture. And I discovered 5 megatrends for the immediate future of South Africa.

I will provide an exposition of these 5 megatrends using the much popular and trusted content analysis method.

The method of analyzing public views, ideas and public comments to use in considering the future was not only applied by Alvin Toffler (one of the leading futurists) but also was used to much great success by John Naisbit in his book, Megatrends, a book that sold 14 million copies. John Naisbit has recently said in one of his most recent books: Mind Set!: Reset Your Thinking and See the Future that "The future is embedded in the present."   To look at the future consider the present. That is the content analysis method. You analyse the contents of the minds of people as presented in newspapers, blogs, generally in social media etc and out of that develop patterns that reveal the future trends for that given society.

So how do we begin? Let us begin from the beginning, as the saying goes.

Today our country is a fast breaking grand story. And within that story there is one key consistent story that has been breaking and gathering force. Here is the story that is dominant in the public forums of whatever nature, be it blogs, newspapers and so on.

The dominant story that is without dispute is this: It has come to the point that there is never a day or perhaps an hour spent in South Africa without you hearing muttering sounds of lamentations and the travails about how our homeland is much abused. That is the pattern that is undeniable and well known. This story has become the mantra of the pedestrian and the genius alike.

There are books published about the decline, demise, fall, descent of the ANC.

Notable books that have been published this year are Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma by Professor Susan Booysen of School of Governance at Wits University. The other book is We Have Begun Our Descent: How To Stop South Africa Losing Its Way by Justice Malala.

And then there is Let's Talk Frankly by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane.

Professor Susan Booysen is also the past president of the South African Association of Political Studies (SAAPS) and serves on the editorial board of the South African Journal of Political Studies, Politikon.

Justice Malala, has spent close to 20 years in reporting and analysing the emerging democratic South African society. He brings immense helpful international comparative perspectives that he has soaked in during those years when he was a journalist based in Europe and later in America.

Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma and We Have Begun Our Descent: How To Stop South Africa Losing Its Way, the broad themes of these books are self explanatory from their titles and subtitles. I have those books in front of me but will not go into details only to make a note in passing about them.

JJ Tabane's Let'sTalk Frankly is a trenchant reproof of power as well as a probe of the deleterious effects of public silence. The book is an exploration of the intersection between compulsive wielding of power and the culture of silence. JJ Tabane asks; why is it, that the sectors of a community - often the broad class of the educated - who should naturally voice opposition to rampancy of power abuse and the horrors perpetrated by the powerful, often lack the spine to do this duty?  JJ Tabane writes letters to politicians to stop squelching dissent and eliminating dissenters. A story that must be told never forgives silence.

There is yet another dominant voice in society rising and raging. This is the voice of senior ANC leaders who were the bedrock in creating an effective administration for the democratic South Africa. Mostly these leaders have worked with Nelson Mandela - at those times where selflessness not money was what drives leaders.

Let us note a few:

Tito Mboweni speaking recently at Wits remarked that: “a dark cloud‚ mist or fog is gathering upon us as a country”. Tito Mboweni Mboweni served as the South African Reserve Bank Governor for 10 years (from 1999 to 2009). Before that he was the Minister of Labour in former President Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet. He is a stalwart of the ANC.

Matthew Phosa has remarked in a television interview: "The ANC is close to lying to South Africans with its promise of a better life for all".

Matthew Phosa is the founding Premier of Mpumalanga Province having been appointed by Nelson Mandela in that role. He is also the recent past ANC Treasurer General.

Trevor Manuel the first Minister of Finance of the democratic South Africa had remarked about the abuse of funds. He commends: "Taxpayers should not pay for a swimming pool at any individual’s house regardless who they are".

Rev Frank Chikane former ANC executive committee member and past administrative head in the Union Buildings recently came out of the public to speak about: The great possibility of the demise of the ANC.

Kgalema Motlanthe, former Secretary General of the ANC has stepped up and talked about the country that "degenerate and morph into dictatorship".

What these perspectives tell us is that South Africa has entered a season of anomie, and the pathological anomie is now a hydra-headed monster. Should we be frozen and play the ostrich games?

Seasons of anomie are troubling times. Enoch Godongwana, the Head of ANC Economic Policy has once declared: Unless radical transformation took place, South Africa would face revolution.

The country as it currently stands is like compressed gas in a canister, waiting for a little scratching for an earth shattering explosion to occur.

The space called South Africa is woefully backward in every index that counts. Our economy is in shambles within the brinks of junk status because the politics has devastated it.

Corruption and outright stealing of public funds, maladministration of state institutions, and crass incompetency are no scandals anymore. Our psyche has been so bombarded with cases of bacchanalian scandals that these things are no longer news. It has come to the point that to ask and beg our politicians that they must not to be corrupt is like asking and begging a goat not to eat grass.

We are in leadership orchestrated decay. The proof of this is the fact that the lives of many people do not function. The country is now a temple of infamy - an iniquitous amphitheatre that stages various plays of sleaze, petty egoisms and primitive greed.

The 5 megatrends I suggest out of this dark, grim and glum situation are the following:

Megatrend 1: Settled and Satisfied in Poverty

The masses of the poor in shacks, squatter camps and squalor are beginning to come to terms with their conditions and settling in to it. They will continue to follow ANC - fill stadiums to full capacity during rallies and vote - because it has become a habit. Habits die hard.

But they know that they are not taken seriously. This explains the absurd fact where people wearing ANC t-shirts marching against ANC even throwing stones to ANC leaders, and then within few months go back and vote for the ANC.

They have been promised many times, that “this time” is going to be different, only to be taken on crazy circle run-around explanations. They are so thoroughly impoverished, so beaten down, and reality is now settling in that there is no better life for them - all that has been promised is all lies.

So the megatrend is that the masses like the rest of Africa will be settled and acceptable of their sorry grim poor sad conditions, but still vote and worship their leaders - just like the rest of Africa does.

Every being obeys its nature. Every planetary body follows its trajectory. That seems to be the law of the universe. You can never shake off your genetic blueprint. A bad tree will continue to produce bad fruits.

Megatrend 2: The Country of Laughter and Forgetting

The second megatrend is that South Africa is now officially a country of laughter and forgetting. This reflects the tendency of the President to laugh in the people's Parliament as problems mount. The President has no peers in the department of faux comedic performance.

To the President laughter is a hope and a shield. Being the person in charge his mind would simply fall apart if he does not find mechanisms for deflecting the multiplied problems. The country has become a cascade of absurd horror events. The sheer challenge of processing and holding in so many traumas will make his mind collapse. So he must laugh in order to cope - to carry on with life from one day to the next.

Another thing, protracted laughter helps in deadening the people to their pain and makes their fatalism endurable.

Leaders are like fountains. They are role models. They dictate the direction of social discourse. Water flowing downstream from a fountain affects social intercourse, individual and communal consciousness.

It used to be that people go to ANC rallies to listen to speeches. But that as we know is no more. The ANC rallies are the places of great entertainment and reveling. A place of laughter and jolliness.

I cannot suppress to make the point that there is a big difference between the EFF rallies and the ANC rallies. EFF members and supporters travel using rusty trains and taxes. In most instances use their own money. They go to EFF rallies eager to listen to the leaders - in particular their Commander Julius Malema. ANC members and supporters go to ANC rallies, using free first class luxury air-conditioned buses, not to listen but for laughter and jabbering around. When is the time for ANC leaders to make speeches the people stand up and leave the stadium.

Every society gets the fruit of the seeds its leaders sows.

Megatrend 3: Paranoia at Large

The third megatrend is that as the ANC is openly criticized from multiple fronts, unable to cope with the shattering stress and disorientation, paranoia will begin to set in.

Paranoid people feel totally insecure. They want to obtain some security. One way they attempt to do so is to try to predict other people's motives. In the process a paranoid person generally misinterpret people's motives and attribute false motives to people. Paranoia is systematized belief in what is not true as true.

A paranoid person will say things, attributing false motives to you. After that he will then go on behaving as if what he thinks about you, you are going to do. For example (this is just used as example only please); you criticise a person consistently – showing the public the true colours of that person. That person develops paranoia. He will start thinking that you are a CIA spy or agent. From there the paranoid person will go on acting as if what he says about you is true. He will start jamming signals to stop you from making phone calls. That is what a paranoid person does. He attributes false motives to you and then go on acting as if those things he says about you are true.

That is to say, paranoid people project their thoughts to other people and respond to their own thinking, and they think that they are responding to other people's.

Paranoia is a disease of the emotions, not of the intellect. The paranoid’s intellect generally remains intact. It is his emotions that are affected.

The reason most people do not recognize that paranoia is a serious mental disorder is because it occurs at different levels. In some levels the individual seems normal.

There is paranoia in schizophrenia (paranoid type). There is paranoia in bipolar affective disorder. This is manic phase. A person has delusion, such as a person roaming the streets shouting and claiming to be God - Jesus Christ or a famous person, a rich person etc.

When paranoia occurs with schizophrenia and mania there is almost always hallucination (hearing voices, seeing what is not there, claiming to be god or a big person etc.). This paranoia is obvious and anyone can see that the person is not normal but insane.

But when there is no hallucination, a person only suffers from delusion disorder with grandiose and persecutory features. In this case the people may not know that the person has a mental disorder. The reason is because he appears normal and reasons along the lines of normality. But his reasoning is affected by a terrible fear and therefore he organizes society along the lines of this terrible fear he feels inside of him. This is very sad.

The megatrend is that you are going to see more and more of the country organised based on paranoia. The reign of knavery will dwarf common sense and floors our imagination.

Megatrend 4: The Software of the Times. The Rise of the Youth

We go to megatrend number 4. This is the most notable megatrend. It will drive South Africa from now on. This is about the Rise of the Youth. The rising tide of FeesMustFall movement will reinforce itself and deal a terrible blow to the powers that be. The powers that seemed to be at a loss in providing adequate answers to youth issues. This tide will begin striking very hard early on in 2016 when the universities re-opens.

The FeesMustFall will become the software that defines the direction of the country. Already this has been done in 2015 when the movement forced the hands of those in authority that there should not be university student fee increases in 2016.

Megatrend 5: The ANC Losing its Spiritual Weapons

As the ANC continues to brow beat people and seeking to educate society to its imagined glorious past more, more and more people will seek to break free and seek other avenues. This will create an eclectic spirit in the country. A free thinking culture that is not dominated by the dogmas and the burdens of history - the past. And the political parties that have projected that kind of image of youthfulness (that is DA and the EFF) will score big time.

ANC has always projected itself as the religion of the masses. ANC wants to be treated like religion – it demands worship and if you don’t obey you are cursed – voters during elections campaigns are told if they cannot vote for the ANC their ancestors will wake up and terrorise them.

The ANC President in the past local government elections told some 25 000 people, mostly Xhosa, in the Eastern Cape: “The ancestors will be upset if Nelson Mandela Bay is lost because this is the home of the ANC.”

In the North West he warned Tswana people that the ancestors will turn their backs on them if they do not vote for the ANC.

The ANC also calls itself a church, and not just an ordinary church, but a church that is broad (“broad church”). A church is a place of worship.

Religion propound absolutes. ANC demands systematic absolutism. It wants to be canonized as absolute truth no matter what it does.

It is this kind of mind set that answers the question: why is it that development of the country comes second to partisanship.

But more and more the force of these spiritual weapons is waning and the ANC is left frustrated that it is no longer revered, worshipped and admired as god. It is frustrated that it seems more and more people are no longer worshiping it as “the glorious movement of our people”.

During the course of the 2015 year we have seen the DA rising to the challenge of the times electing a very much younger leader - Mmusi Maimane. If you have witnesses the euphoria at the DA elective conference immediately after Mmusi Maimane was pronounced as its leader there were scores of jovial black youth who rushed to the stage to congratulate Mmusi Maimane. That moment was the sound of future things to come for the Democratic Alliance.

The dawn of EFF in fact is the single most explosive supernova in our society.  Its capacity to insert itself at the centre of the affairs of the country to become the talking points and pulse of the nation is legendary.

What both these tell us is that, as the ANC is becoming more and more grumpy by the day, people will find it easy to break free and embrace new politics.

So those are the 5 megatrends coming from the representative public comments from various angles and shades of colour.

Also I listened to radio talk shows and read twitter as people raise their voice to the villainy, mediocrity and sleaze seeping into the country’s psyche.

Talk shows and twitter may strike some as mere theatre, but if you pay close attention to the tone, you will realise something far more profound is at play. The tweets and the phone-ins to talk shows are a cry from the deepest, most affectionate regions of the heart of South Africa. People are seeking to bail out the country from the political, economic and social cul-de-sacs.Their aim in participating in public conversations is to set in motion new imperatives that will catalyze political renewal for the good of their beloved South Africa. They are openly nursing the belief that South Africa will rise again some day to live up to the fullness of its potentials.

So I have consolidated and analysed these treatise from twitter and talk shows as well, when developing these megatrends.

Conclusion

My role, in part, is to illuminate the issues we care about - sharing my lens. I don’t presume to function as a factory of solutions. If I describe a problem well enough, I consider my job well done.

For the moment I would like to say this;

The desire to see South Africa develop and take the vacant throne of leadership in Africa is prevalent within Africa and the rest of the international community. So there is good reason that many South Africans are dissatisfied with our sorry, grim, glum and status quo - of seeping into the brinks of junk status.

Many South Africans are frustrated and demand radical change. A radical change away from the dogmas of the past and two decades of misrule, where mediocrities are praised and promoted while excellence is slaughtered.

Truly, we have no other home than this beautiful South Africa. So by all means let us strive to put the country first. Who came first? Is it South Africa or what?

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