Not All South Africans Buy Into The Good News

By Barbara Bean-Mellinger Published: November 14, 2013, 8:45 am

If South Africa is doing so well, why is its daily news so bad? And why are so many people on the ground so miserable?

Those are the questions raised by the Daily Maverick‘s Ranjemi Munisamy, reacting to recent glowing reports on South Africa’s economy by Goldman Sachs and the ruling African National Congress party. The reports highlight how far South Africa’s economy has come since 1994.

“Attend any ANC event,” Munisamy writes, “and the comparative statistics come thick and fast: The economy has expanded by 83 percent over the past 19 years; national income per capita has increased by 40 percent from R27,500 in 1993 to R38,500 in 2012; disposable income per capita of households has increased by 43 percent; total employment has increased by more than 3.5 million since 1994 and average real wages in mining and industry have increased by over 150 percent.”

Reports that aim to put South Africa in its best light – such as those from the ANC and Goldman Sachs – aren’t telling the whole story, Daily Maverick reports. Looking at South Africa’s improvements over the past 20 years since apartheid ended, yes, much has been accomplished.

Over the past decade, however, poverty rates increased in South Africa, Munisamy points out. Meanwhile, during the past 10 years, poverty rates have decreased in countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Daily Maverick refers to political analyst Ebrahim Fakir’s comments, that South Africa’s measure of success shouldn’t be from the zero base of apartheid to today. Rather, it should be “what it ought to be if we want to live decently.”

According to Oupa Lehulere, the director of the social justice non-governmental organization Khanya College, the rising wealth and profitability of large businesses does not  necessarily translate to the masses, who are largely unemployed, or the working poor who struggle to make ends meet.

Big companies’ profits often go to other countries or other projects, rather than back into the local economy.

“The ANC wants South Africans to measure its performance on 20 years in government and not the controversy-plagued current term,” Munisamy writes. “But it is difficult for people to remember and appreciate the evolving changes over two decades and ignore what is in the news now.”



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