Tough times call for true lead­er­ship

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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.

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