South Africa joins Nigeria in recessionary trends, economy experiences unusual downturn


Just when we would have loved to have one African nation on the high road to development, South Africa seems to be the proverbial child who has refused to learn from other people’s mistakes. I intended to share my predictions about South Africa, my article on April 6 missed publication so I will share it here again because South Africa may yet be on the path to civil unrest and greater political instability in the coming months and years.

Here is the post I wrote earlier in April:

The political atmosphere in South Africa is a tense one. If the nation will survive this impending storm, they probably should learn from Nigeria’s history. Just a few years after independence, Nigeria was plunged into political crisis and the civil war between 1967-1970. This war took a toll on the prosperity Nigeria could have earlier boasted. South Africa seems like the land of gold for Africans right now; they even seem to disregard Nigeria irrespective of the huge role our country played in pulling down the apartheid rule in South Africa.

It is as they say: you should not bite the finger that fed you. If the present political upheaval in South Africa be signs of impending instability and even greater political crisis, then xenophobia may turn out to be a child’s play.  The opposition parties and South African allies have shown a resolute stand to call for President Zuma’s resignation; they have a strong stand in the house of representatives and only need about 50 representatives from the ruling party to support this motion.

These events were the aftermath of the President’s controversial reshuffling of his cabinet, the financial minister was sacked and in that same vein the Rand experienced a plunge in value. This singular act in the part of the President had led to the opposition deciding to push a vote of “No confidence” and resignation of Zuma.

Can we say the “flower show” is over? Is it possible that South Africa is now at the  phase of reality when the true effects of independence begins to tell on the economy and a battle for survival begins just like Nigeria has experienced since the civil war?

One thing is sure, a lot of decisions are being made. There are sides to be taken, there may be clash of political powers and interest. This is a time that one would expect South Africa to court Nigerian leaders and seek their support in taking decisions that would prevent South Africa’s imminent fall.

Recent events have confirmed my fears as the nation has announced a recession. Notable is the fact that this recession is unusual as other nations report significant growth in recent months including Nigeria.

“We can recover‚” said Professor Jannie Rossouw‚ head of the school of economics and business studies at Wits University. “But we will not get investor confidence as long as President Jacob Zuma is still president. We just need to start planning on what to do after his term comes to an end 
 We need to survive the Zuma presidency and then things can turn around‚” he said.

“South Africa’s biggest challenge right now is to survive the Zuma government.” But what is this technical recession? “It’s simple‚” said Econometrix chief economist Dr Azar Jammine.

What Africa misses out is the need for political leaders who are able to unite every social class, ethnicity and tribe. Bad leadership significantly affects growth and eventually mass dissatisfaction leads to economic distress and these leaders become undesirable. South Africa would dangle between the choice of taking decisive steps for replacing the sitting government or waiting out till the next elections. This is not even the time for Nigeria and South Africa to be at loggerheads, the timing is totally off for both nations.

Leadership seems to be the major blight of Africa, Nigeria also has experienced major setbacks based on a loss of investor’s confidence. Two major economies of the African continent are threatened by largely undesirable political images, this should tell Africans that the political systems need to be revisited and redesigned to accommodate the present day world economics and politics.

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