Civil servant fat cats enjoy the cream; entrepreneurs fight to survive

The South African economy is in poor health. The illness comes in part from government policy that protects inefficient, wasteful state entities like Eskom and SAA and provides well-paid jobs-for-pals. This is highlighted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in its latest report on SA.

Government finances were under pressure before Covid-19 struck. There has been a sharp deterioration in fiscal accounts over the past three years and public debt is expected to exceed 100% of Gross Domestic Product within the next two years, notes the OECD (see report).

There’s no hardship for civil servants, who collectively take home a staggering 12% of GDP in wages, enjoying above-average inflation increases and high remuneration by world standards. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, who create jobs and generate the taxes needed to pay government employee salaries, are in deep financial trouble. The OECD singles out the tourism sector, particularly hard hit by Covid-19, as needing life support.

Going beyond the economic percentages to document what these figures mean for our lives and livelihoods is my talented colleague Lindiwe Molekoa. Beggars with masks, long queues for food parcels, restaurant workers begging government to ease restrictions – these are some of the moving, haunting Faces of Covid-19. Add yours to the collection.

PS: Don’t miss your Monday treat. Chapter Three of the serialised audiobook of Anthony Butler’s superb biography on SA president Cyril Ramaphosa is now available for BizNews community members. A new chapter will be published every Monday. Listen/download it here:

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