Johannesburg - The lead article in The Economist, calling South
Africa “sad”, has infuriated some government officials, but civil
society leaders and diplomats say it’s not far off the mark.
The latest issue includes an editorial on South Africa entitled Cry, the beloved country.
details South Africa’s decline from an undisputed continental hegemony
to being “doomed to go down as the rest of Africa goes up”.
South Africa’s education system, the article notes: “According to the
World Economic Forum, South Africa ranks 132nd out of 144 countries for
its primary education, and 143rd in science and maths.”
Then it asks: “What went wrong with South Africa, and how can it be fixed?”
senior government official who deals with South Africa’s international
reputation said: “What is new? They are not saying anything we don’t
know and it feeds into the current narrative that says there is no
leadership under (President Jacob Zuma
“The economic crisis is not our fault, and we’ve weathered the storm much better than Europe. But that is not mentioned.”
to former World Bank managing director and civic activist Mamphela
Ramphele, the weekly publication is “sadly right about our situation” in
saying South Africa is seen to be in the grip of “self-sabotage”.
Ramphele said: “Their identification of the fatal flaw in our electoral system is also right.
is no accountability system between leaders and the people they
represent under the closed party list system with no direct constituency
Political commentator Sipho Seepe
said there was a “failure to address the structural flaws that were spawned by apartheid”.
He added that government’s efforts to stem the tide of corruption have also not borne fruit.
DA leader Helen Zille
said the publication “got most of it right and it got a few crucial parts dead wrong”.
objected to the article’s assertion that the DA will not win national
power in the foreseeable future. “It remains entirely possible that
change for the better can be achieved in South Africa.”