On Monday Goldman Sachs released a report “TWO DECADES OF FREEDOM: What South Africa is doing with it and what now needs to be done” which assessed South Africa’s progress over the period since the change from the Apartheid government of the National Party (now defunct) to the African National Congress. Next April will be the twentieth anniversary of the election that changed everything for South Africa, moving us from a nation failed morally and starting to fail in every other way, to a country with massive opportunities but still with plenty of problems.
|Managing partner of Goldman Sachs Colin Coleman|
|Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan|
Of course the report has generated plenty of controversy from both the left and the right. Stanley has pointed out on several occasions that South Africans – white and black – tend to grumble about what has happened over the last twenty years - not denying the necessity of the change of government and policies, but harping on how much more could and should have been done.
So here are a few statistics that are highlighted in the report. Perhaps you want to reflect on how other countries have fared in these areas:
- Employment increased from 9 million to 14 million;
- Illiteracy decreased from 34% to 19%;
- Service provision increased significantly. For example electricity provision increased from 58% to 85%;
- 70% now use the facilities of public hospitals or clinics, up from 57%. What is more, 70% of them said they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied.’ (Conventional wisdom here is that public health is sicker than its patients.)
- Gross domestic product (GDP) increased from US$80 billion to US$468 billion. There’s a lot more financial good news (e.g. the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the fifteenth largest in the world), but this stuff can get boring;
- Around 10 million South Africans have entered the “middle class” over the last decade.
So what’s the bad news?
- 4.6 million people live with HIV (nearly 16% of the population), but ARVs are free and education and drugs are starting to make a difference;
- 4.6 million are looking for jobs and another 2.2 million are no longer bothering to look. That’s a real unemployment rate of 36%. Unemployment is our huge challenge. We are way out of line with our BRICS partners in this area;
- 15 million people live below the poverty line. The government supplies them with welfare grants. The poverty line is only $2 per day;
- Mining and manufacturing are falling as a percentage of GDP. That means that “real” production is being replaced by services and the like. This is bad for exports. Also mining generates jobs. Labor is more productive than in 1994, but productivity has not kept pace with wage increases. Labor unrest and the public sector have both increased leaving the government in the uncomfortable position of being both employer and trade union;
- Infrastructure needs upgrading. (So what else is new?)
|Key Findings in the report from Goldman Sachs|
Michael - Thursday