Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


What the Sona and budget hold for South Africa

South Africans yearn for better but experts warn that there are no quick fixes and empty promises won't do.


Despite South Africans desperately holding onto hope of a better South Africa, experts have argued there are no quick fixes to rebuilding the country and that hoping for a miracle only leaves room for disappointment and empty promises ahead of the elections.

With the State of the Nation Address (Sona) set to take place next Thursday, sociologist Prof Karl von Holdt said SA was in a bad place.

“Since the last Sona the crisis at Eskom still persists and there’s no sign yet it’s being resolved.”

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This after the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) said South Africans were desperate for policies that create economic opportunities and unleash the potential of our communities.

The county’s deteriorating ranking in a global corruption index and the International Monetary Fund’s stark downward revision of the country’s economic growth forecast are alarming indicators of SA’s current economic and policy trajectory.

IRR head of strategic communications Hermann Pretorius said the “convergence of crippling antigrowth forces paints a clear picture: South Africa is mired in a policy death spiral that is intrinsically antigrowth and propagates poverty”.

“The government’s current policy framework not only undermines the country’s economic potential but also deepens the hardships faced by its citizens,” Von Holdt added.

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“South Africa needs an urgent strategic pivot towards pro-growth policies that encourage investment and entrepreneurial activity as the engine of upward social mobility. South Africans are desperate for policies that create economic opportunities and unleash the potential of our communities.”

He also noted that realistically speaking, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana have one more shot at getting things back on track.

“This month’s budget will be critical to the credibility of the ANC”.

“The key political question will be whether the ANC can get back to basics on government spending and economic growth and return to the socioeconomic successes that delivered the ANC’s stupendous achievement of 70% of the vote in 2004.”

However, Von Holdt said the situation at the moment was pretty dire “and after years of failure and lack of delivery, we cannot accept a quick turnaround or empty promises especially with the elections coming”.

“Personally, I do think there has probably been some progress in some areas under Ramaphosa’s government, and I think they probably are making slow progress on the Eskom situation,” he said.

“But we cannot deny that most of these institutions have reached a state of collapse under their management. So one really loses any faith they had that anyone would be able to change much. I would also say that there are no quick fixes to rebuilding these institutions either.”

He said it was easy to say South Africans need new economic policies, but “it’s not the kind of policies that the Democratic Alliance or the IRR are advocating. But having said that the ANC doesn’t seem to have a plan at all either in that area”.

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“Former president Kgalema Motlanthe, who is a very sober-minded and principled leader, once said something really profound, that there is no political party that is going to take South Africa into a new freedom and a new growth into the future,” Von Holdt said.

“Actually, the political party that is going to take South Africa into the future has not yet been established.”

Political commentator Simphiwe Shongwe said South Africans were still holding out for hope of a better country and future.

“So even though they want to hear good news during the Sona and budget speech, they are also not stupid and naive”.

“So they won’t be listening for empty promises and new policies especially from the ANC. They need a solid and concrete change, which they are not likely to see from this particular party.”

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