-By Thiart van der Merwe As South Africans we tend to look at our glass half empty. We over-exaggerate the bad stuff and gloss over the good. In light of this, we decided to look at seven reasons why we are in a better place as a country than we’ve ever been. So pour yourself a glass half full (at least) of champers and toast with us. Make this your dinner table talk this December and watch everybody perk up. Raindrops are falling on our heads After one of the worst droughts in our country’s history, we really can start singing in the rain again. Although dams levels are low, we have already seen the positive effect of the rains on our farming industry. Estimates suggest we have already planted 35% more maize this year in comparison to 2015. The graph below shows the effect on the maize price which is likely to drive food inflation to around 2% in 2017.
The poverty level has decreased considerably. At a recent leadership convention Adrian Gore highlighted some important strides made in the last 20 years. The next graph illustrates the improvements made in living standards. Band 1-3 signals people living in terrible conditions and bands 8-10 the upper echelons of our society. We need to take note of this as it’s remarkable that as a collective, South Africa is much better off today than 20 years ago.
Source: South African Institute of Race Relations, report titled Life in South Africa: Reasons for Hope Supporting this statement is the black middle class that currently stands at almost 6 million people. This is three times more compared to 12 years ago. The significance of this is an increase in the consumer base that can have a positive impact on various sectors of our economy. Our constitution works 2016 was a big year politically for South Africa. The independence of our courts stood out. Zuma was forced, by law, to pay-back-the-money. This emphasized that no one is above the law. We saw signs of a maturing democracy at the polls in August. There are now three parties in the race and this bodes well for South Africa going forward. The most recent events shows that within the National Executive Committee there are members that want Zuma out. The NEC has historically backed Zuma and this highlights his waning power and the lack of tolerance for poor leadership. People from all corners of the country are coming together to #SaveSouthAfrica. The unity shown might be just what we need to come together and make South Africa great. Treasury our Treasury Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has shown resilience throughout 2016 - fighting off attacks from all angles. The recent delay in the nuclear deal added to Fitch and Moody's decision not to downgrade South Africa. S&P decided to keep our foreign rating unchanged which means we survived a downgrade for now. This is a significant effort from Finance Minister Gordhan and the Treasury, and we can only applaud their efforts in what was a tough political environment. With a strong budget in 2017 and an uptick in commodity prices - we might stave off a downgrade altogether. South African development is on the rise In 2016, South Africa’s ranking in the World Economic Global Competitive Report improved by two places to 47th and we improved in 10 out of 12 categories. It is important to note that we reversed a downward trend in 2015 and we’re on the rise again. Improvements came in the form of enhanced local and foreign competitiveness and education. The results show that we are still well ahead of most emerging markets. South Africa retained the first ranking out of 138 countries for auditing standards, protection of minority interests and the ability to finance through equity markets. The country is second or third for soundness of banks and financial services, efficacy of boards and regulation of the stock exchange. Read the full report here.
Source: World Economic Forum’s report on global competitiveness for 2016/ 2017 We’re on top of the world in sport
Let’s just forget about rugby for a second. The Proteas created history with a pink ball and thrashed the Aussies in three consecutive test series down under. Wayde van Niekerk led an inspired SA Olympic team claiming 10 medals in Rio. His 400m will go down in the history books as one of the greatest accomplishments by a South African athlete. If that doesn’t tug at your heartstrings then nothing will. There’s no doubt that we live in uncertain times. The uncertainty makes us anxious and certain events even stir anger. Sometimes it is necessary to sit back, take a breath and look at how far we’ve come. We should not let bad press overshadow the good stories we have to tell. We are Proudly South African. South Africa is the world’s favourite place
Move over London, New York or Paris. The new culinary capital city of the world is in South Africa and it’s Cape Town. It is also the #1 creative city in the world and the best city in the world as a travel destination. It is not only Cape Town that is attracting attention. Johannesburg has been named “the new cool capital of the Southern Hemisphere”. Tourism has increased strongly as foreign visitors appreciate our people’s warmth and creativity and our country’s natural beauty. We hope that you will enjoy some of the same over the festive season!