South Africa has been through its fair share of ups and downs and, with the threat of a full downgrade to junk status, South African's are struggling to stay positive. Unemployment is on the rise and the economy is slower than the post office (and that's saying something). So it's not looking good but what will 2018 have in store for South Africa?
Many economists foresee very little improvement as long as the Guptas and Zuma remain prevalent in the country. The Bureau for Economic Research found that 40% of manufacturing firms expect to be investing less in the next 12 months which is a seriously bleak view considering South Africa has never seen such bad stats since 1992. The BER predicts that the GDP growth rate for 2017 will sit at 0,6% and with the steep decline in employment rates, it doesn't seem to be looking up anytime soon.
On the bright side of things, amidst all of the pessimistic reports, the IRR remains hopeful for the future of South Africa and Frans Cronje, CEO of IRR claims that the progress that South Africa has made from 1994 is enough to predict a hopeful future. Cronje doesn't disregard the trouble that South Africa is experiencing in its education, crime and governance, however, he said that South Africa cannot disregard the social and economic development that has happened in South Africa since 1994.
While crime in South Africa is a worrying problem, looking at the murder rate since 1994, we remain optimistic as previous stats showed that 64 out of 100 000 people were being murdered which has now halved to 34 people out of 100 000. Service delivery is something most South African's gripe about almost every week. Burst pipes left to waste water for hours on end, and power cuts by the hundreds but Cronje says that the number of families living in formal houses has doubled along with the delivery of electricity and water services.
In 1990 just under 100 000 black students were passing matric and the end of 2016 saw just under 400 000 students passing matric. The problem of racial inequality is still prevalent due to the damage of apartheid but this is slowly levelling out as 1994 saw less than half a university class was black but today, more than 70% of university classes are attended by black students. Education does need to become the main focus for the government as South Africa's education system is severely lacking the growth it sorely needs but this does not disregard the progress it has made already.
When asked about the state of South Africa's healthcare system Cronje focused on the increasing number of doctors and specialists coming into the public health sector which means that the number of new HIV cases has halved since 1999.
This means that, although the numbers for the year reflect a bleak reality, it is important to keep the progress and successes of South Africa in mind.
Watch the Tedx Talk by Jakkie Cilliers below for three possible future scenarios for South Africa.