South Africa Economy
South Africa Economy

South Africa

(Image : SA Alive / CTS)

“Hou die blink kant bo.”

It is a tribute to the resilience of our country that it has survived both the evil influences of the National Party’s racist philosophy and laws and the incompetence and corruption rife in succeeding ANC administrations writes Stephen Mulholland in The Citizen.

“Many years ago, when apartheid was still firmly entrenched, I addressed a small meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. After describing the atrocious amorality of the National Party and its policies and the damage these were doing to the country and to the majority of its people, I was asked to address questions from the floor.

Before taking questions I offered to answer two which were almost always posed in regard to SA. The first was usually what the likely outcome will be in what was clearly an unsustainable model.

The second was how long it would take before the country imploded.

My answer to the first question was that, unlike a settled and developed nation in which much can be taken for granted and the future is, if not perfectly predictable, usually a steady continuation of what exists.

For South Africa however, my view in the apartheid era was that the future was open-ended. It could see a racial bloodbath of immense and tragic dimensions following increasing oppression and resultant violent and growing resistance. Or it could be an uneasy, negotiated transition. Or the outcome could be peaceful, multiracial and harmonious. And so on.

With regard to how long the country would last, my answer was that ever since I had been five years old and began to grasp the meaning of words I had heard that SA had five years left.

The prediction was always five years and then it would all be over, a failed state wracked by hunger and conflict, its economy in ruins and its future desperate.

That was 25 years ago and one still hears of the “five years to doomsday”. At 75 this does not trouble me as much as it then did and this week there was room for hope in a circular e-mail from UD Trucks, a local manufacturer owned via Japan in the Swedish Volvo group.

This company points out that we have much about which to be pleased.

For example, South Africa’s debt to GDP ratio is 32% (US 100%, Japan 200% and UK 90%). The World Bank recommends a ratio of 60%.

South Africa sold $1,8 billion worth of cars to the US in 2010, putting us ahead of Sweden and Italy as suppliers to the US market. Car sales are projected to grow 10% in 2011 to 460,000 units. South Africa is ranked 1st out of 139 countries in respect of regulation of security exchanges according to the World Economic Forum competitiveness report 2010-2011.

The South African stock market rose 16,09% in 2010, ranking 8th out of the G-20 nations and ahead of all of the G-7 countries.

The rand was the second-best performing currency against the US dollar between 2007 and 2011, according to Bloomberg’s Currency Scorecard.

The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown from 3,9-million in 1994 to 11,3-million in 2010. South Africa is ranked among the top five countries in the world in respect of tourism growth (growing at three times the global average).

The percentage of the South African population with access to clean drinking water has increased from 62% in 1994 to 93% in 2011. Access to electricity has increased from 34% in 1994, to 84% in 2011.

As they say in the Free State: Hou die blink kant bo.”

Extract from The Citizen