SA should remember Lee Kuan Yew's words this year

Reversing our deteriorating macroeconomic trends will take bold decisions, says Phumlani Majozi

We begin the year 2022 in an unpleasant situation as a country. There is a great deal that needs to be attended to urgently, to reverse the trends that slow down our socioeconomic progress and disadvantage millions across our nine provinces.

The previous year 2021 was a challenging year on many fronts – joblessness continued to rise – by the end of the third quarter it had reached 47%, if you include those who have given up looking for work. Crime, which is one of my greatest concerns, remained at astronomical levels.

In one of my tweets just before the end of the year 2021, I echoed that South Africa’s socio economic problems can be resolved; if South Africans make the right decisions.

When I tweeted those words, I had been reminded of Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and former prime minister of Singapore, who once said, “A nation is great not by its size alone. It is will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of their leaders which ensure it an honorable place in history." Yew took Singapore from dire poverty in 1965, to one of the richest countries in the world today.

Reversing South Africa’s deteriorating macroeconomic trends would take bold decisions from our leaders and private citizens who elect our leaders.

What those bold decisions are is being debated. Those who believe in big government, think that more government is the solution. Those who believe in less government, and I am one of those people, believe that loosening government controls on the market will be instrumental in boosting South Africa’s economy.

The people who want us to continue on the big government path must remember that we have been doing that over the past two decades – with disastrous results as economic growth is nowhere to be seen and unemployment keeps rising.

This year do not expect the ANC government to do better on the economy and law and order.  Though there will be an improvement on some economic indicators such as economic growth and debt to GDP ratios – as Fitch Ratings pointed out on its review of South Africa at the end of last year - it is crucial to remember that the economy is in "the recovery" phase. The recovery from severe damage imposed by government policy response to COVID19.

With the governing party the African National Congress (ANC) having its elective conference in December this year, expect its leader and President Cyril Ramaphosa to be preoccupied by the party’s internal affairs. Ramaphosa will not sit back and relax as he faces challengers to his ANC leadership.

I do not foresee Ramaphosa losing his presidency at the party's conference. He will win. The so-called radical economic transformation (RET) comprising the scandalous Ace Magashule and Jacob Zuma – is weak. The balance of power has tilted in Ramaphosa’s favor over the past years. Sadly, he’s never used that power to make bold, consequential decisions in reforming South Africa for the better. And that has been a shame.

Last year’s local government elections were consequential. The ANC continued to lose support. From now on , the party will work tirelessly strategizing on how it regains its support in the 2024 national elections.

Part of the party’s strategy may involve increases in government spending. The ANC has been good at using government handouts to attract votes from South Africa’s poor. They will never let go of that strategy anytime soon.

What we will also watch closely this year, is whether South Africa's justice system prosecutes public officials who have been implicated in the state capture report. Prosecutions must begin soon – both the public and private officials implicated must be prosecuted.

Whether riots similar to last July's will repeat this year, is something that we will have to wait and see. Frans Cronje former CEO of the South African  Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) has said that riots may repeat, if the state of the economy continues to deteriorate under the ANC.

Whatever happens regarding the riots, strong law and order will be critical to suppress any riots that ensue. Businessowners who wish to get legal firearms to protect themselves and their property, must do so.

We must all remember the words of Lee Kuan Yew this year. Because change will begin with us. Both private and public citizens have a responsibility to make South Africa a better country.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi