MCEBISI JONAS: This is what we must do to stop the slide to populism
'In the absence of fresh, big ideas, the ruling party could easily turn to short-term populism'
We must build on lessons from Southeast Asia. It would lead towards higher levels of fixed capital investment; increased investment in research & development and technology; a renewed focus on human capability; and collaboration between the state, private sector and civil society. Taking this high road is, however, premised on renewed political will and imagination; a stronger, more capable state and greater collaboration across society.
In mapping the path ahead, we must capitalise on the optimism accompanying President Cyril Ramaphosa's ascent. A good foundation has been laid with the president's announcement of the new economic stimulus package. It is critically important that a broad coalition unites behind it.
South Africans need to keep perspective in these challenging times when it is easy to be despondent. The world is undergoing exponential change, with technology replacing human labour, the rise of right-wing populism and new forms of economic nationalism. Within our country, headlines talk of recession, joblessness, crime and corruption. Populist rhetoric has fuelled unrealistic expectations of a quick fix to our jobs and inequality crisis. Mistrust among stakeholders remains high and there are powerful interests that have everything to lose as patronage networks are dismantled. However, history has shown we are an incredibly resilient and dynamic nation that achieves remarkable things when we set our collective mind to it. But we must also acknowledge that our nation has lost its way. SA is at a crossroads. One path follows current trends - rent-seeking, corruption, declining state legitimacy, reduced investment, economic stagnation, inequality and social tensions. On this path, lo...