PAINTING A PICTURE
This series of graphs tells an eloquent story of SA’S economy, and society, in stark detail
Since 2009, SA has been sliding downwards into a swamp of low growth marked by rising unemployment and social discontent. This series of handpicked graphs tells an eloquent story of what happened under former president Jacob Zuma, and what we’re likely to have to deal with under his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa. In the absence of any discernible growth policy — and the government’s inability to turn what little growth SA has had into rising living standards — unemployment, poverty and inequality are stuck at worrying levels. This is the biggest threat to SA’S future.
The fact is, Ramaphosa has inherited a country that generates more unemployment than growth; a dysfunctional education system that entrenches inequality; and an economy that is no longer internationally competitive, bar a few exceptions like the automotive sector and tourism. His task is to break the cycle of disappointing growth, fiscal slippage and repeated credit-rating downgrades.
The graphs captured here indicate that SA has a mountain to climb. Unfortunately, the government has neither the funds nor the capacity to do so. The economy’s traditional growth drivers are exhausted and the fiscal cupboard is bare. The only option left is to invite the private sector into a partnership to revive confidence and investment to boost job creation.
This is Ramaphosa’s stated approach, but he will have to go further and faster to combat SA’S mounting social and fiscal problems. Combined with education reform, rapid economic growth is the only sustainable way to lift most of the country out of poverty and extinguish the threat of a populist disaster.