In the absence of psychic ability, we do know what the essential building blocks are for the inclusive, sustained growth SA needs. But we need look no further than our youth unemployment crisis for guidance as to our priorities. In his article, Cyril Ramaphosa focused the lens: "There can be no new deal for SA unless there is a new deal for its youth and children" (Rise in working-age population ratio calls for youth-focused plans, December 1).
This, along with other mounting priorities of inclusive growth, can only be successfully tackled with the agility inherent in the business sector. However, with all eyes on the looming ANC conference, whoever wins will need to first wipe the slate clean — no mean feat.
SA will need to work hard to restore the eroded trust of global and local investors, business leaders and civil society in the wake of a trail of corruption and ineffectual leadership.
SA’s economic growth performance is among the weakest of the emerging markets; income inequality ranks among the highest in the world. There has been a failure since 2015 to create jobs on a net basis and massive structural unemployment with a large, young workforce characterised by high levels of unemployment and low skills levels.
There is some hope in the expectation that global corporate investment and capital expenditure will climb, potentially unlocking growth, and that there will be support for commodities prices. There’s also hope in the fact that emerging markets that are fortunate to have a supportive growth environment are expected to thrive during 2018. But we need to take advantage of these favourable global economic winds when they occur.
Policy and political uncertainty, coupled with low business and consumer confidence, have all but sealed our fate with the ratings agencies. We urgently need regulatory reform to promote financial inclusion and small business development; policy certainty in mining and energy; and the absorption of our young and unskilled workforce through industries such as business process outsourcing and agriculture.
We can analyse all we want, but the acid test lies in government taking seriously the dangling Sword of Damocles, and changing course.