Why is SA failing – or is it?

Now the world is side-eyeing us and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore.


As the Last Great Optimist, I have something to say, a whisper that feels like a shout: my country is failing.

South Africa is failing. There. I said it. Are you happy now, you pessimists, doomsayers, and Cassandras?

Because I’m not. I see it happening from outside right now; when I’m there, I see it from the inside too.

I’m sickened, and I’m scared for my family, my friends, my people – all the people. What on earth went wrong?

ALSO READ: SA cannot afford to become both a failed state and a mafia state

We had everything going for us: natural resources, abundant arable land, a young population anxious to succeed, hardworking people, solidarity among those workers, diversity, political freedom, fabulous weather, and the finest constitution on the planet.

We had faced civil war and turned away disgusted.

Sure, we had much to contend with, chiefly the massive imbalance between the haves and the have-nots, and the distorted legacy of decades of apartheid and centuries of imperialism, but nonetheless neat little RDP houses were going up; electricity and running water were being installed where there’d been none; a new generation was “born free”.

We had hope, we had plans. The world was on our side.

Now the world is side-eyeing us and nobody knows how to fix anything anymore.

Everyone – black, white, coloured, or Indian – is angry and hurt, holding tight to what they’ve got, begrudging everyone else.

Julius Malema is not the problem but a symptom, albeit with the potential to metastasise.

Most have a private agenda, a hustle, or a scheme involving other people’s money. Laager mentality has set in.

READ MORE: Apart from accepting we’re a failed state, what can be done?

People are demanding their rights, but few are accepting their responsibilities or acknowledging their privileges.

Too many are on the take. Looking After Number One is the national priority.

And yet we retain so much of the good stuff from the not-so-long-ago Rainbow Nation: youth, resources, farmlands, political freedom, sunshine, beauty, and a great constitution – even though it means you can say stupid things so long as you don’t kill anyone – so what has changed?

Maybe we got tired, maybe we got lazy. But failing doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Not yet anyway

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