Is The Economist right?

2012-10-21 12:56

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.

It details South Africa’s decline from an undisputed continental hegemony to being “doomed to go down as the rest of Africa goes up”.

On 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?”

A 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.”

According 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. 

"There is no accountability system between leaders and the people they represent under the closed party list system with no direct constituency representative.”

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”.

She 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.”

  • yvonne.c.martin.71 - 2012-10-21 13:13

    So many can not be wrong..

      andrez.kolesky - 2012-10-21 16:32

      @Irukandji I agree with you. So many ANC followers.

  • yvonne.c.martin.71 - 2012-10-21 13:14

    Who was the author that wrote "Africa is my Witness"

  • hendrikvs - 2012-10-21 13:16

    Why are government officials upset if it is all a result of their doing? Stop stealing and wasting resources!

      hendrikvs - 2012-10-21 13:37

      Must be people with no personal ethics that approves of government's unethical behaviour.

  • flysouth - 2012-10-21 13:18

    “What went wrong with South Africa, and how can it be fixed?” There is an obvious answer - the ANC coming to power with it's so-called "progressive" attitudes (the term deriving from the Communist lexicon of obfuscation and which means the precise opposite of what is expected) is what went wrong! SA was ready in 1994 to take it's place amongst forward-thinking countries of the world and all the conditions were there for spectacular growth and harmony in a country where the majority of citizens of all races had prepared themselves psychologically to travel the road towards true multiracialism and success. Whilst the first ANC administration appeared to embrace this concept, the reality as we have seen was that it's leader, Mandela was one of few who believed in this enlightened path whilst the remainder were then playing and today continue to play the political game of racialism and tribalism using the whites as the bogey-man. Overlay this approach with the sheer incompetence, venality and corruption we have seen over almost 18 years and you have the makings of a 'perfect storm' - a storm powerful enough to destroy a country!

      julio.sanfona - 2012-10-21 16:03

      I couldn't have put it better myself.

  • merry.martin.944 - 2012-10-21 13:21

    Sadly, The Economist is absolutely right. Our education system is non-existent, crime is rampant and Nero fiddles while Rome burns. Until such time as "leaders" are held accountable for every single cent spent, and until such time as "leaders" stop blaming apartheid for all and anything, we are going to continue along this path of destruction. We need to hold our leaders accountable for all their actions, or lack thereof. I don't care who runs the country, so long as they run it, and not plunder it.

      merry.martin.944 - 2012-10-21 13:39

      @michael: I have not really thought about a specific individual. I think that both Madiba and Mr Mbeki had to walk a fine line, but things are now totally out of control. I cannot, and will not, believe that there is no-one out there who can do the job with honour and integrity. There has to be someone, because that is our future. The question is this - will the general population get sufficiently annoyed to actually vote with their brains and not their hearts? I understand the loyalty to the ANC, but the time has come to either force the ANC to "clean house", or to vote for change. As I said, I don't care who runs the country, but things HAVE to change. And quickly too. Peace and blessings.

      michael.bushes.7 - 2012-10-21 13:45

      @MerryMartin, You need to realise one thing, namely, the black south african is not used to democracy and therefore doesnt know how to make it work for them. Before whites arrived, they were governed by their autocratic kings, then colonialism arrived and yet again they bowed down to another power, followed by apartheid, and now in 1994 they suddenly had a vote. Sure, many have voted for other parties, they know that democracy means one man = one vote, but do they really know what democracy is that on election day, that they are more powerful than elected officials? I doubt it. The true sad thing is, is that we as coloured people and whites have to suffer because of this, because are now numbers are to little and as a percentage, will continue to decrease due to higher black birth rates.

      merry.martin.944 - 2012-10-21 13:56

      @michael: Good points. I guess then, for the sake of our own salvation, we need to educate, educate, educate. Perhaps if each one of us made it our absolute mission to inform and educate (at least about democracy) every "uneducated" person (no offense meant to anyone) we come across, perhaps we will have a fighting chance? I don't know - I get the impression that the younger people are very aware of what is happening, and are perhaps trying to lean away from the ANC, but where will they then go? It would appear that the DA is seen as "white" - perhaps a change in the DA leadership would make a difference? I wish there were an easy solution. Peace and blessings.

      michael.bushes.7 - 2012-10-21 14:29

      @MerryMartin Its a dead end street im afraid, even if we educate. You see, its human nature to try to dominate people that are unlike oneself. This is the price we will pay as coloureds and whites since we are minority groups. Our futures do overlap somewhat. During colonialism and apartheid, whites made us as coloured people dependent on them for work, healthcare and education. PW Botha had a stroke, de Klerk becomes president and then suddenly Mandela gets released and 4 years later his the president. We never even had a chance to establish ourselves somewhat and are now being excluded by the blacks. On the other hand, if we are excluded from AA policies, then what does the future hold for whites then? You see Martin, we are both finished here. Our time is running out fast, whether itll be due to continual exclusion or whether itll be due to economic chaos due to mismanagement and corruption or tribal wars which will sink the land faster than anything else, is anyones guess.

      vicki.malatse - 2012-10-21 14:49

      @Michael spot on,now we are stucked with the ANC for another 100years to come before change can be effected,atleast that's how long I think it will take to get the masses to an education level of understanding that they power lies in them.And since the ANC is not priotizing education its gonna be a long long walk

  • - 2012-10-21 13:26

    South Africa is not only sad, it is an angry country. We are angry that this bunch of leaders, crazy for power and 'stuff', are riding rough-shod over those of us who are working our butts off to try and build up our country, and also over those gullible enough to believe their empty promises and keep voting them back into power.

  • vic.hammond.77 - 2012-10-21 13:31

    Thanks for stuffing up the Country, Zuma, now pack your bags and go have your days in Court re arms deal. Take your entire government with you, but leave Madam Mondesela behind, because she is the only one doing a damn fine job.

  • william.letsong.5 - 2012-10-21 13:32

    Hold a referendum in the Western Cape for independence so that we can break away from what seems to be South Africa's moment of self destruction. Leaders like these losers Zuma, Mothlante, Malema and the rest of the ANC are governing this country backwards instead of forward and they will continue to blame apartheid while the uneducated masses believe them and vote them into power. Let born and bred Cape Townions decide their future, so that others in other parts of the country who wants a better future can prosper with them far away from the corupt, thieves and madness at Luthuli house, Cosatu house and the Union building. Or let Thuli stands for the presidency.

      roiyen - 2012-10-21 13:58

      A referendum in the Cape will be awesome, but than it must only be open to those who were born in Cape Town. Not to those who were bussed in from the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country to increase the ANC's support base in this province.

      george.slade.161 - 2012-10-21 14:01

      Good idead William , but Malema and his Impi,s will invade , just like the Zimbo,s all come south , because North of western cape there will be wasteland. We all blame Zooomer & the ANC --regrettably its abt 40 million uneducated plonkers who will until death vote them in. Zuma is merely the Prince of Fools : the real Fools unfortunately for all , have a vote.

      themba.ntuli - 2012-10-21 14:21

      its not that of a bad idea but the problem is that history has told humanity that when a portion of the territory secedes for self autonomy this usually precipitates civil if the political situation is tense as is the case in SA, just research how the american civil war and biafrian war started you will get my point....

      mark.bellino - 2012-10-22 00:09

      It is so encouraging when I read messages like this. Is there no better proof that the country can go to great places when the previous supporters of the ANC see the light, and now know what to do. Keep fighting William - it is people like you who will change South Africa. Don't let anyone stop your movement. South Africa needs a true democracy, and this is how it starts.

      Jeremy.P.Farrell - 2012-10-22 21:46

      I'm with the Thuli idea. Or Mamphele. Or both. Ah heck, let's just vote the ladies in, even though the ANC Women's League says they are not ready yet. Putting a woman in charge has been good for a couple of African states, why not here? (I mean it, this is not some sexist comment)

  • joe.smit.549 - 2012-10-21 13:32

    But at least the food in schools is good. Well, according to Jamie, it is!

  • tony.naidoo - 2012-10-21 13:33

    The Economist is an internationally recognised authority on fiscal policy and domestic growth. It shouldn't take a sangoma to predict the outcome of our rudderless govt. and SA's financial future. Common sense dictates that urgent intervention is necessary. Urgent change in the leadership and the direction of this country. By the way, The Economist does not belong to the DA!

      barry.eason.35 - 2012-10-21 14:48

      Absolutely right on all accounts! Our illustrious and wise government feel that we are not teetering on the edge of total meltdown.\r\n\r\nDenial of the problem/s will continue as they efficiently rape the economy and do the country in....

  • larry.piggott1 - 2012-10-21 13:41

    The Economist is spot on, that our ANC Government can not see it, shows what a pack of Morons they are.

  • dewaldmarais - 2012-10-21 13:42

    Yes they will be right if we keep on voting for these clowns. All South Africans now know the meaning of the term \Daylight robbery\ it's truly sad.

  • Sammy Willow - 2012-10-21 13:43

    imagine being a fly on the wall at the anc HQ, their daily runnings, i believe it will give jersey shore a run for its money

  • gerrit.vanpletzen - 2012-10-21 14:04

    What is education worth if you keep lowering standards to achieve passing figures? What can be done to uplift the South African youth, so they can effectively compete with pupils from more priveleged backgrounds? As long as the ANC remains in power, the quality of education will keep on declining, because the people in charge do not give a damn about the people of South Africa as a whole. Education should always be priority nr. 1. We live on through our chldren, and don't forget that. The only real legacy we can leave them, is a good education.

  • george.slade.161 - 2012-10-21 14:05

    In response to the Heading : YES

  • andrew.gordon.505523 - 2012-10-21 14:17

    ANC's new game is deny everything and pretend all is well. The problem is there is no leader to tell them there is still a lot wrong, and it needs to be fixed ASAP.

  • kosie.nel.14 - 2012-10-21 14:23

    The root of it all: BEE - apartheid in reverse. Skilled whites left the country and unskilled masses came from the rest of Africa, China and Pakistan.

  • rvleggaar - 2012-10-21 14:30

    Your comments make no sense. Thought someone should point it out.

  • Sammy Willow - 2012-10-21 14:33

    time to face reality south africa, look north to our neighbours, and see the future of south africa, we will not make it through with all the corruption and division between black and white, the whites have had it, and are leaving, our youth are better schooled out of south africa than in, and at a young age make a future for themselves abroad, why return to a place where you are not welcome, the rest of the world embraces white south Africans, but not in sa, and i know i live abroad, our hard work and ethics stand out, what future is there in sa??

  • sarah.fernandez.986 - 2012-10-21 14:36

    I am sorry but NO , the economist is party right . In other words the big corporate companies must continue to make huge profits and the laborer must work for nothing . Most people here using computers have NEVER lived a day in township or realizes how hard is it to work in mines . As long as the big corporations make money and the poor must just stay poor.

      julio.sanfona - 2012-10-21 16:42

      That's reality, as hard as that may sound. If there is an oversupply of labour, it stands to reason that the employers can pick and choose. Even though that it may sound that the labourers are underpaid, one must compare their output in relation to their pay, in other words productivity.

  • Zahir - 2012-10-21 14:40

    The anc has failed in every way possible education crime economy health they should right the book on how NOT to run a country

  • ekke.oupa - 2012-10-21 14:46

    All I know is that since 1994, municipal services went down in black and white areas, so did hospital servies, police services, teaching, the SADF etc etc. in 1995 Bafana won the Africa Cup, then lost the way. We were world rugby champions, we now battle. Water pollution is at a peak with no obvious solutions. New taxes are implemeted annually, energy and water prices (rates)increases at an alarming rate. Our road infrastructure deteriorates by the day. So one can go on and on. How the economic crisis effects this all is beyond me. The Goverment receives taxes at unprecedent levels compared to earlier years. What is happening to all this money? It is time that everybody that do not have the necessary management and techinical skills, admit this and do what is necessary to rectify this. Apartheid has nothing to do with this. The problem is, that if one does not know what he or she does not know, it is a recipe for disaster.

  • judith.taylor.56 - 2012-10-21 14:49

    Sadly this is the truth. The ANC has become a party of blatant theft. It has let down everyone

  • Don.Tandy - 2012-10-21 14:51

    SA is a sad sad place because it is full of sad sad people - sad whites who are in denial about what the future of SA holds for them - sad blacks who believe that the likes of showerhead, the evil one, fatboy, jap scrap, etc have their interests at heart.

  • ACvanNiekerk - 2012-10-21 14:57

    What the ANC should have done was spent the Gautrain or any one of the big capital project's money on forced education for all South Africans. I'd love to employ a whole team of blacks but finding enough that are educated enough to do the work I need is very hard indeed. The sad thing here is that the ANC thinks it will stay in power while neglecting its people. The last few months have shown us already this is not the case. I predict that the ANC will have very serious issues in the next 2-3 years if they don't quickly own up and start empowering the masses. Jacob Zuma and his blue light fat cats will be dealt with like Gadaffi and Mubarak and no one will do anything about it - because they deserve it. Stop spending R200 million on your house and home. Stop spending R17 million on counting cushions. Stop tenderpreneuring! Educate South Africa's children and be an example that everyone in this country can be proud of and not ridiculed as the world's laughing stock. Amen

  • lorinda.carey - 2012-10-21 15:07

    I wish as a tax payer I could select were my tax money went to my choice ... For exaple the DA ...! That should be very intresting. :) Just a thought!!! Now wouldn't that be nice! :)

  • ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2012-10-21 15:56

    So DA has the power to change the economy now?

  • ft.burhaak - 2012-10-21 16:05

    They could be 100% right or 100% wrong.It all depends on the governments courage to deal with socio economic issues and corruption instead of self enrichment and leniency towards incompetence.

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-10-21 17:28

    Clearly it was right. It is also clear that the rest of the international community is starting to realize that they supported the wrong groups in southern Africa. The best they could have done would have been to make sure multi state solutions came into place as that would have at least left nations free to be successful or be paupers on their own and in their own ways.

      Jeremy.P.Farrell - 2012-10-22 21:53

      SJ, I think you are right about people realizing they backed the wrong horse. I hope the DA and other thinking but smaller parties are getting some financial support from the interested foreign investors.

  • wmutahi - 2012-10-21 18:12

    don't buy the economist don't buy.

      Davethecarguy - 2012-10-25 13:33

      It's this head in the sand mentally which is causing all the problems in the first place. 'Oh we're being criticised. Let's not listen to what's being said and instead, shoot the messenger/label it racist and counter revolutionary' Wake Up!

  • douglas.reid.921 - 2012-10-21 18:31

    Not sad! CRIMINAL!! That the president can plunder over R200 million for a personal residence, anywhere else in the world he would be impeached. (other than Zimbabwe)

      mc.segal.5 - 2012-10-21 19:20

      Vote For Western Cape Independance Up Yes Down No. Wont Have to bu an etag then..

      douglas.reid.921 - 2012-10-22 07:18

      if western cape became independent all the whiteys would move there in a flash and the rest of south africa would just crumble. Great idea but won't happen cause the white taxpayers still need to carry this country on their backs, as well as pay for the excesses of the anc

  • lee.bromley.39 - 2012-10-21 22:12

    I love how the Government is quick to throw their hands up in outrage, but they never disputed the FACTS which were laid down. South Africa is Rotten... all the way from the poor, uneducated workers who struggle to make R5000 per month up to the Cancerous corrupt politicians who struggle to hide R5 million in a dodgy tender deal. All I can say is VOTE DA. This country needs true leaders. Not just bosses.

  • garreth.rosenberg - 2012-10-22 09:10

    I still don't get it. The apartheid education system benefited a few. Why can't the government use that very same system and apply it to everyone else. This system is worse then even the bantu education from apartheid. These guys are just stupid and ignorant if they think what is happening currently is good for this country. "CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY" indeed.

  • johnny.fortuna.1 - 2012-10-22 10:19

    Truth hurts.

  • cheers.perez - 2012-10-22 11:54

    The number of black South Africans who, without the help of ANY political connections, have managed to find the school fees for both primary and secondary education as well as the small fortune needed to train for a qualification that would take them out of the ghetto and poverty is very small indeed. They persevere in spite of a failing education system and appalling educational facilities. Many of the parents of this class of society are maids who walk a mile or two from the taxi/bus rank up to their suburban workplace to pay those school fees, and then walk back again at the end of the day. Gardeners do it. Labourers do it. Most work because they have a goal for their children. Most of them just happen to be black. Talk is cheap; opinions even cheaper.

  • japie.vanwyk.12 - 2012-10-22 15:39

    JZ hit abck saying we are also upgrading 2000 schools, but neglected the Carte Blanche report stating that 100' s if not 1000's of schools are being closed! We are spending millions changing names of towns and streets while suburbs like Mamelodi im Pta has many streets without any name?

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