Twenty years after the birth of our democracy, we wonder where our future economic growth is going to come from?
South Africa is a land forged from natural resources. Gold, diamonds, platinum, coal have driven our economy for the last 100 years, but as those commodities get more expensive to extract from our earth and ultimately dry up – where does the future lie of our country?
It’s frustrating to watch the fumbling, indecision and lack of leadership from our political elite. There is no evidence of any jobs being created, no national plan on the table for the economists to debate, nothing that we can aim at and get behind as innovators and entrepreneurs. Yes there is opportunity for the fast thinking and nimble minded amongst us, but what future is there with limited options for most?
So, where to from here?
Socially we are heading down a road of escalating crime and violence – that’s for sure. As labour legislation strangles the life out of job creation and the gap between the have and the have-nots widens, all the police in the world are not going to stop the tidal wave of desperation that’s forecast to come.
If you’re upset about E-Tolls in Gauteng now – just wait for what’s coming. The government has lofty plans for national health insurance and a youth wage subsidy, but no answer as to how they’ll be financed. More and more promises are going to have to be paid for by the relatively few that pay tax at all. With no growth on the horizon the country finances the election promises with debt. Who’s going to pay that? Your children if they continue to stay in South Africa.
As a so-called emerging economy we are competing with countries like Brazil, India and Russia – offering ‘what’ into the mix?
You might not think that this is your problem, but sadly it’ll only be a matter of time before the problem becomes impossible to ignore. Living in a city where the majority of the population spend the entire winter in a flooded tin shack and use a bucket as a toilet, is not exactly a recipe for a sustainable future. Giving those people two blankets and a tin of food is like putting a Band Aid on shotgun wound. You may not give a damn, but the truth is ‘an injustice to some, is an injustice to all’. You’re probably just thinking that if bad goes to worse you’ll just head to Australia like all the others before. But they all left when the Aussie Dollar was a lot more favourable to the Rand, a million Rand of capital doesn’t get you very much from the Wizard of Oz.
The solution isn’t spending 67 minutes painting a children’s home in Maitland and then going home to cook a Woolies microwave meal, the answer doesn’t lie in eating a R25 cupcake at a shopping mall thinking that the R5 that goes to charity is making you a good person, or helping somebody in need.
The answer lies in demanding a strategic plan out of this mess and getting behind it. The answer lies in all South Africans working together on that plan, day-in and day-out to make it a reality. The answer lies in giving up a bit of the privileged liberties that you have become accustomed to, to really build a sustainable future for all South Africans. We’re not clever or capable enough to come up with that plan ourselves, but when the leader emerges with that hallowed document in hand, we’ll be the first to sign up and grab a shovel to lend our effort.
South Africa today is the result of past generations of pioneers. Our ancestors were risk takers, visionaries, mavericks. We are the offspring of heroes. There is no reason why we can’t once again round up the oxen, gather a group of passionate visionaries and head out into the unknown in search of a prosperous future for all. There are glimpses of what could be all around us, but it feel like illusions of grandeur and fear drive us back into our old mindsets.
We have become complacent and lazy, presently our future is compromised. We are going to have to take a serious look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ‘what am I going to do about it?’
The only way out, is to turn around…and take a forward step.
Cherryflava is an opinionated commentary on trends and innovation - as well as the people and thinking that are shaping the future of our world.Published from Cape Town, South Africa since 2004.
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