Tough times call for true leadership
SOUTH Africa officially entered a recession yesterday, the first time since 2008 when the country recorded three consecutive quarters of negative growth. This time, we are only technically in a recession because we have just entered our second consecutive quarter.
For many of us, though, it’s merely confirmation of our own lived experiences.
Life is tough, many of us are unemployed – it’s no coincidence that the unemployment figure released last Thursday by Statistics South Africa is 27.7%, the highest it has been since 2008.
The true figure is probably closer to 40%, while we know that almost 46% of all households receive one or another form of social grant from the government.
It’s a dire situation that is unfortunately about to become a whole lot grimmer.
Much of this is beyond our control; much of the world is in economic turmoil, but what could well be within our control is how we get out of this.
One of the key drivers would be foreign investment, but trumpeting white monopoly capital – even if it was cooked-up by white staffers in a public relations agency with headquarters in London – with its attendant clarion cry for nationalisation serves only to discourage this.
Equally, given that much of our wealth is still held by minorities, perennially playing the race card doesn’t encourage investment.
Economic prosperity goes hand in with political stability. We are undergoing an incredibly fraught period – headlined by efforts to unseat the president of the country and the premier of the Western Cape.
President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffles and the war around the control of state assets play into the narrative. The outlook in the near future is bleak. We face the prospect of spiralling costs, retrenchments for those formally employed and the liquidation of businesses, big and small.
The attendant risk is a spike in the crime wave as desperate people seek solutions. The only answer is leadership. We need a statesmanship that puts the interests of all of us front and centre, before party or even personal gain.
The leaders need to stand up.