South Africa and the World – guest series post by Dalisu Jwara

A story of hope.

On the 27th of February 2013, I attended South Africa’s Budget speech at Parliament in Cape Town. The whole world was looking at us to see how the budget would lay the blueprint for economic prosperity in Africa’s largest economy. Having lived in this amazing country my whole life, I have often been inspired by its people, places and vibrant sense of community which the world has often looked at with amazement. After all, these were the lands in which Mandela, Shaka Zulu and Chief Albert Luthuli roamed, and the same lands which inspired our former President Thabo Mbeki to pen a poem entitled “I am an African”.
The past year has been difficult. We have been hit by credit downgrades by rating agencies, labour unrest and sluggish economic growth. As Africa’s most sophisticated and liquid market this can be partly attributed to our links with the global economy, which remains largely affected by the harm in the Eurozone and effects from the stock crisis in 2008. All these factors and many more have affected the outlook of our economy.
I believe that it is in times like these that a Nation needs to be innovative, seek social cohesion and attains visionary leadership in order to overcome its challenges. It is now time to look within and recognize the legacy of our past whilst balancing this with the possibility of a greater country in the future. My friend Kunaal Maharaj argues that this is a cliché –a statement which has been ringing in our ears for the past 20 years. I maintain that we need to redefine the brand of South Africa, and make it stronger than ever. As a constitutional democracy we recognize the scope of fulfilling the basic rights of our citizens, but what is essential is the implementation of these ideals.
This has been brought to light by the recent labour unrest. One such example was the strike at Marikana where 34 miners were killed by police officers. The miners were protesting for higher wages and the situation led to tensions between the miners and police, which unfortunately led to the unfortunate turn of events. We are also largely affected by the socio-economic divide which is a remnant of the segregated past we come from.
Despite these issues, I have hope that our country will emerge stronger than ever. Our inclusion in the BRICS bloc has strengthened our position as the gateway to Africa. The national development plan which aims to reduce unemployment, inequality and poverty by 2030 is a viable plan which may go a long way to reducing socio-economic tensions. The budget speech for 2013/2014 takes this plan as a starting point and will see large infrastructure investment in the forthcoming years.
Having engaged with various high school students, business leaders and government officials I am confident in the Rainbow nation and its ability to adapt to an ever-changing world. We have companies, tertiary institutions and individuals who are amongst the best in the world in their fields. It is the synergy of all these and of active citizens in our vibrant democracy which will enhance our place on the world stage.
Next year, we will have our annual national elections where we as citizens will come together again and decide the path which we are set to take in the next five years. With new political parties and old alike fighting for an X next to their slot on the ballot paper it will be interesting to see the direction South Africa will take.
The elected government will not be the only beneficiary of the election, the entire Rainbow nation will be.
Dalisu Jwara is a third year Business Science (Finance) student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. He is currently the Deputy Chairperson of UCT’s Black Management Forum and also serves on the UCT Consulting Club’s executive committee. His late grandmother inspired him to make a meaningful and humble difference in society. He writes articles for a blog called The Future Africa and enjoys reciting poetry, taking walks with his girlfriend and hanging out with friends. When he is not engaging business leaders about the growth prospects of Africa and emerging markets he can be found with his older brother Skhumbuzo, or at the Offices of the Alexandra Education Committee in Johannesburg where his mentor the late Frank Simmonds was director.

More in this series: AustraliaColombiaUSASpain

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