Which South Africa in 2010: A Successful Emerging Economy
or an Increasingly Polarized Failing Society?
by Alan Tonkin
In considering the current situation in South Africa, two widely differing scenario’s can be drawn. The first is a successful emerging economy with major infrastructure expenditure for the forthcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup in June/July, 2010. The second is one where racial hate speech from both the left and right wings of the political spectrum is increasingly being expressed.
In this article we will attempt to show how neither of the above routes are guaranteed and how “values” influence the views expressed in both the media and in the political as well as economic arenas.
Scenario A: An Increasingly Racially Polarized Society
Based on the views expressed in the media as well as by statements from various political players South Africa is unlikely to produce the promise of the description of South Africa as the “Rainbow Nation” as used by Nelson Mandela and others.
Statements from both the “far left” and “far right” of the political spectrum show how far the country has to go before this can be achieved. However, what it is important to realize is that the “values” enshrined in the South African Constitution are not necessarily shared by the vast majority of the population, either black and white.
The Constitution of the country set up at the Multiparty Negotiations in the early 90’s was founded on progressive principles of equality, efficiency and fairness which are values currently not shared by significant sectors of the population. However, it is important to realize that large sectors of the population are still transitioning their values with the rapid move from the rural areas to the cities bringing views which are often closer to “tribal and cultural” rather than those of a modern 21st Century society.
We will explore this idea as we progress the article and consider the required steps to move South Africa to becoming a modern society in every way. This is however, a journey which cannot be achieved without a “shared vision” for a better future for all.
Scenario B: A Successful Emerging Economy
What does South Africa have to do to move the country forward in a positive way? This is a primary responsibility for leaders in all spheres of activity to assist in this lengthy, evolutionary and difficult process.
Successful economies have excellent education systems from primary to tertiary levels as well as good health facilities, adequate housing and clean water. In all of these areas South Africa is currently deficient, as many of the qualified and experienced professionals previously in the system with the required skills have either left the public sector for the private sector or have moved to other countries.
In addition, the issue of industry competitiveness is a key concern with wage levels being significantly higher than in countries with a comparable level of development. There is also an issue with the provision of adequate electricity to support the required levels of economic growth to reduce high levels of unemployment.
Existing labor legislation is also a key impediment to better use of resources and providing a flexible skilled workforce. Of the emerging economies in the G20 grouping South Africa is currently least prepared to face the competitive challenges of the 21st Century.
However, on the upside the private sector has performed relatively well since the early 1990’s and major South African companies have performed well both locally and internationally. What is required from government are industry friendly policies to encourage more inward investment. This will however, require strong leadership in reining in the more radical socialist elements within the ruling coalition. In addition, the issue of improved infrastructure is critical at all levels of the economy.
Managing the Values Mix
The broad range of “values” is as wide in South Africa as in any other country on the planet. It has a well developed and relatively sophisticated 1st World component as well as a significantly larger unsophisticated 3rd World economy. The challenge for the government is how best to blend the two in a positive way in order to encourage a climate of “sustainable development.”
In the graphic below taken from the World Competitiveness Report of 2002 (updated) it shows how economies progress through the various stages of development. They can also temporarily regress depending on current “life conditions” and their broad impact on the society as a whole. This however, is not a move that should be permitted by government to derail forward movement in the longer term.
It is important to note that in Asia South Korea and now China are currently moving strongly from the Blue value of Hard Work through to the Orange value of Wealth Creation. It is however, also important to note how long it took Europe to move from Tribal Purple to Green Self Achievement. This time frame depends on a number of factors including education quality and levels of technology available in the society.
Values and How They Influence Societies
Dr. Don Beck in his seminal work on values clearly illustrates the different values profiles for different societies. In the graphic below he illustrates how some societies are unable to achieve a shared strategic vision from all their citizens due to differing values (see below). This is a process in the global journey of development.
The global picture in terms of the values mix in various countries is shown above. It also indicates the types of economic and political systems best suited to the various values systems in each values set and clearly illustrate the various models required.
South Africa is a particularly interesting case as it displays a major profile of over 65% of the population being similar to Sub – Saharan Africa with a smaller bulge being closer to the United States and Europe. In a case such as this it requires a careful “dual approach” to issues of developing the economy as a whole. This also applies to other emerging economies in the G20 such as Brazil, China and India.
However, the key question is how is South Africa going to politically manage the widely differing values experienced on the ground between its emerging 2nd World citizens and the rapidly growing “black middle class” who now form part of the formal 1st World economy and are becoming a clear majority in this area?
Where to South Africa?
In considering all the above factors it is important to realize that the radical elements to both the left and right of the political spectrum do not reflect the broad views of the South African population as a whole. The vast majority are looking for a better life for themselves, their families and communities.
At the same time the rhetoric and calls to hate speech and physical action are similar from both sides of the spectrum. Fortunately, these actions are not widely supported by the vast majority of the South African population. In the values graphic shown below Graham Linscott in his bookUhuru & Renaissance (October, 2001), indicates the values shift since the 1800’s and the era of King Shaka of the Zulu Nation.
The above indicates that values are totally colour blind and are not race based. As an example, the white electorate provided over 70% support in the referendum in the early 1990’s by President F. W. de Klerk for political change at that time. Equally, the right wing AWB elements represent a very small minority of the broader white population today. Whites as a group are represented across the spectrum with the vast majority being in the values range Blue Order to Green Liberal Values.
Equally, the views expressed by Julius Malema of the ANC Youth League and others on the radical left of the political spectrum do not carry significant support from the black population. Generally, the Malema faction are located in the Red Power and Tribal Purple values and are those currently transitioning from the 3rd to 2nd World.
What is urgently required from the President and the ANC national leadership is a clear long term strategic vision of the broad economic and political direction for the country as a whole. It is also critical that the broader South African society covering the values range of Blue Order and Orange Enterprise ensure that these values are built on and enhanced in a positive way. It is critically important that this broad leadership group firmly take the initiative in moving the country forward.
It is also important to note that the Tribal Purple and Red Power values comprise over 65% of the total population of South Africa. What is required is more emphasis on positive Blue Order in order to ensure that the government at all levels is seen to be delivering both development of communities and the required infrastructure. This includes maintenance programs on the roads, railways, water and sewerage facilities and other essential facilities for a good quality of life on a daily basis.
In the event that those values are not consolidated then South Africa runs the real risk of slipping back into the typical vacuum of Red Power and Tribal conflict as seen in other parts of the African continent and elsewhere, where a small corrupt elite control both the economic and political levers of power.
Some Overall Conclusions
The good news is that South Africa can retain and further enhance its place as the leading economy in Africa and as a valued member of the global community. However, to do this it needs to consolidate the following as a matter of urgency:
Key Issues for Achieving National Stability and Order
- Ensure that the majority Tribal Purple and Red Power groupings are firmly but fairly managed. This will require strong leadership and political will from both the political elites as well as the tribal chiefs.
- Ensure that corruption whether in “Negative Red Power or Negative Orange Enterprise” is firmly dealt with by the authorities as well as by business leaders, particularly in the state sector.
- Ensure that a strong core value of Blue Stability and Order is established including the consolidation of the value of service into the significant and rapidly emerging “black middle class.”
- Ensure that people are appointed strictly on the basis of “merit” and not on other issues such as race or political affiliation. This will ensure that competence is clearly seen to be rewarded across the broad population.
- Ensure that the issue of “Law and Order” is moved to another level, where all citizens can feel safe and secure. This particularly applies to the commercial farming sector in the rural areas as well as private citizens.
- Actively move on the issue of HIV/AIDS as well as improving the delivery of state health care to those without medical insurance cover.
- Control immigration effectively, particularly from Zimbabwe. Put pressure on the current ZANU – PF leadership to fully fulfill the terms of the Global Political Agreement or firm political/economic action will be taken by South Africa.
Key Issues for Achieving an Effective Free Enterprise Model
- Ensure that “Service Delivery” is seen to be streamlined and effective within the limits of available funding constraints. Communicate this clearly to all involved in order to manage unrealistic expectations.
- Encourage people to speak out against nepotism and corruption and have the “Political Will” to follow up effectively at all levels.
- Provide real opportunities for employment growth by liberalizing the economy and at the same time reduce the crushing burden of 15 million currently on welfare benefits. This is unsustainable in both the medium and longer term.
Key Issues for Achieving a National Integrated Strategy
- Provide a differentiated system of democracy where certain powers are passed down to the tribal chiefs. Make them responsible for delivery in the rural areas with direct accountability for their own areas.
- Use the natural models including Positive Tribal Purple to encourage sustainable rural development including professionally managed communal farms based on the core principals of the Israeli “kibbutz” system. This should be part of the formal land restitution model.
- Copy successful models from other developing nations with similar multi–cultural values mixes. Singapore and China come to mind here in terms of Blue Order and disciplined leadership to achieve this objective.
It is obvious that if South Africa is to progress as a society the major key issues are those around the transition from Tribal society to a successful developing economy. However, other issues relating to a long term Sustainable National Strategy are also key to achieving this overall objective.
Some Concluding Remarks
The above issues include a number of the key areas that require urgent attention from the current South African government. Providing these are addressed it is still possible that South Africa can remain the model for both Africa and other similar developing economies. This in turn will assist in ensuring that South Africa remains a successful emerging economy and does not slide down the slippery slope experienced by other “Failed States” in Africa or elsewhere in the developing world.
In order to achieve this goal it will be necessary to include a mix of the values required to build a lasting legacy, built on the clear 1st World model as set out in the South African Constitution. This is turn will require a government made up of “all the talents.” In addition, leadership must be able to integrate all of the values comprising both the existing 2nd and 3rd World components as well as the rapidly growing 1st World portion currently making up the broad composite of the nation.
The developing and developed world in the G20 grouping is increasingly realizing that the old global political and economic models need serious modification and redesign as seen in both the recent UK and US elections. This is an essential part of the necessary redesign of the old systems into the new global integral models for future success. If South Africa wishes to be part of this global trend it will need to move positively in the directions suggested above.
The coming Soccer World Cup 2010 will clearly demonstrate that South Africa has the required skills to make the required transition. However, in order to achieve this objective clear strategies must emerge as well as the political will to achieve these. Providing this happens South Africa has a real chance to once again become the “Rainbow Nation” as described by Nelson Mandela when he was released. It is up to all committed South African citizens to show that this is possible.
St Francis Bay. South Africa
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