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LONDON — Jakkie Cilliers’ book Fate of the Nation is a genuine tour de force. Not since RW Johnson’s 2015 How Long Will SA Survive? have South Africans been given a book unpacking the turbulent country’s future so well. Using sophisticated scenario planning tools developed at the University of Denver, Cilliers shares the three potential paths available to the country over the next two decades. Which of them will actually be followed depends solely on decisions the ruling ANC’s leading members take during the elective conference in December. In this interview we meet Fulbright scholar Cilliers, get to understand the processes he applied that produced the scenarios, and assess the conclusions he reached. A must-listen for anyone who wants to understand what is at stake as Africa’s oldest liberation movement approaches its biggest moment – one that will put SA on a road to prosperity, or sliding towards repeating the disastrous Zimbabwean experiment. – Alec Hogg
In this special podcast, we link up with Jakkie Cilliers who is based in South Africa and has been there for a long time but indeed, spent time outside of the country as a Fulbright scholar. Jakkie?
Alec, yes. I spent two months at the University of Denver where I studied at the Frederick S Pardee Centre for International Futures, using their long-term forecasting, which is known as the International Futures. It’s probably the most sophisticated, integrated forecasting tool that is available in the public domain. That was in 2013 and since then, I’ve been actively engaged in doing forecasting on various aspects relating to the future of South Africa and Africa.
I noticed from your book, and that’s really what we’re going to be talking about ‘Fate of the Nation’, which focuses on South Africa that you’ve done scenarios/looked into other parts of Africa. It’s very interesting to maybe, touch briefly on Ethiopia.
Yes, we finished a very big study on the future of Ethiopia for USAID. USAID spends $0.5bn in Ethiopia and they approached us to do a long-term forecast of where Ethiopia’s come from and where it is headed and where they could spend their aid Dollars more effectively. We did an analysis and forecast of every sector of Ethiopia, from education to the informal sector up until 2035 and Ethiopia as you know, is one of Africa’s great economic success stories. Ethiopia and Rwanda: both are authoritarian development models (and one can talk about that) have done better than most other African countries and the future appears quite bright, but Ethiopia faces a number of challenges with regard to the size of its youth bulge and various education and other challenges that lie ahead.
That authoritarian model was something that South Africans were quite keen on before the transition to democracy. I’m sure you recall that with all the scenarios that went around then. The benign dictatorship was supposedly the best thing for the economy.
Yes. There’s also, again, some recent work that Frans Cronjé from the South African Institute of Race Relations did on the future of South Africa that harks back to some of that. There was an era: the rise of the Asian tigers – China itself – where the authoritarian developmental model produced more rapid growth and alleviation of poverty etcetera, than any other model. However, that era is behind us because for ever example of positive authoritarian development, I can quote you two or three examples of where it has not worked. Ethiopia and Rwanda are exceptions but the big difference between Africa and Asia is in actual fact, the size of their working age population relative to elderly and youthful people. They have a significant demographic dividend which Africa is unable to achieve under the current population growth forecast. This is really the main factor why Africa is not growing.
We’ll get into that in some detail, but just to establish the scenario science if you like, from the University of Denver (the International Futures Forecasting System): how does it work?
It is a system that was originally developed as an educational tool by a Professor Barry Hughes who is now in semi-retirement at Denver. This is his life’s work. It is the only publicly available global forecasting model. You can download it and play around with it. It allows you to look backwards to 1960. You can see where you have come from so, it is at once, a massive data set with 3 500 data settings, and is able to do forecasts until the end of the century. It is integrated and interconnected and it is dynamic. Therefore, if you change the provision of water and sanitation in South Africa, or Namibia, or whichever other country, it changes everything else. It calculates every year for every country in the world and does that until the end of the century, which is how far we can look ahead.
It has a ‘current path’ or ‘business as usual’ forecast, and then you can intervene and pull various levers to say ‘well, Ethiopia has been able to increase the provision of water and sanitation much more rapidly than most other countries’. What would happen if Zambia was to achieve that same level of improvement? What impact would that have on human capital development, for example? I’m simplifying quite a complex system, but it is a way in which you can think about the future. Nobody can predict the future. We can plan for it. We can forecast it. We can have different scenarios but at the end of the day, if we don’t think in a structured way about the future we can’t prepare for this. This is the tool that I’ve certainly been using for the last four or five years.
This is not artificial intelligence. This is different. For example, if we were to forecast (and I use the example of water and sanitation), we would look at the rate of improvement that is related to levels of education, levels of urbanisation, and so on and these would inform the nature of the forecast. Take Zambia, which is a low-income country: it would look at how Zambia could do compared to other low-income countries and then base the forecast, really looking at what academic literature tells you of what is possible at certain levels of education and income and how other countries are doing. That’s how it does its dynamic forecasts.
So, it’s processes and systems and a lot of that comes through in the way that you approach the scenario of South Africa (or the three potential scenarios that you outline of South Africa) in your book ‘Fate of the Nation’. You come to three very distinct conclusions: the upside being Mandela Magic, the middle road and the most likely one being Bafana Bafana, and the downside being Nation Divided. Perhaps, before we talk about each of those, what are the key assumptions that you plugged in to get to those scenarios?
Alec, the key assumption is really politics and developments in the ANC in particular is fundamental to South Africa’s future for the next few years. Quite a lot has been written on the direction of causality. Our political direction will determine the future of South Africa over the next 10 to 15 years. We are at a turning point in South Africa. At the end of this year, the ANC have their National Conference at which they will elect new leadership. The ideological direction in which the ANC will proceed after that, really informs the subsequent socio-economic scenarios that follow from in Fate of the Nation. To inform the political analysis (and there’s a lot in Fate of the Nation that analyses politics, election trends, and so on) I divide the ANC, which is very complex into three large groupings. First is the traditionalist grouping.
This is sort of where President Jacob Zuma is currently taking South Africa. It’s a more ruralist black nationalist orientation. The second grouping is the reformist tradition. That is the Constitutionalists, the ‘born frees’ – the youngsters, as we refer to them who were born after 1994 when South Africa had its first democratic election. The third grouping is really the undecided voters. Their allegiance and what they decide to do will determine if the swing vote goes towards the reformers or towards the traditionalists. At the moment, many (particularly black South Africans) are generally supporters of the ANC but they’ve become disillusioned in the last ten years under President Zuma. The ANC under him, has faced an economic headwind – the great global depression since 2007/2008 – and they suffered abysmal leadership.
This has been like a wet blanket over South Africa’s growth and a country that has got considerable growth potential is growing significantly below that potential and voters see this. The big question is, “What’s going to happen in December of this year? Are we going to see the reformists within the ANC triumph and drag the ANC into the 21st century and under that scenario, the ANC can continue governing South Africa until 2034, which is the time horizon of the book. Alternatively, we’re going to bumble along and that is why the current path forecast – Bafana Bafana – is named after our uninspiring national soccer team, which is not doing that well. There’s no captain. The team is not particularly fit. They don’t have a strategy. They dribble the ball along but they don’t really score a goal.
Or are we going to head downwards towards a nation divided where in actual fact, the populists/traditionalists triumph and South Africa really does badly, as we’ve seen many other countries go down that traditionalist/populist pathway, which is not (in today’s world) a direction for growth.
There are many moving parts in all of this but most recently, a part that numerous pundits are pointing towards is the secret balloted vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma where 198 people out of a potential of 400 voted in favour of him. In other words, the view was that they had the choice but they are still stamping the current role. The traditionalists (as you’ve described them) appear to have triumphed. Does that swing any of your scenarios one way or the other?
Look, it’s a long-term scenario prognosis so I’m glad to say (touch wood) that the forecasts are holding out quite well. My forecast under all three scenarios is that President Zuma will survive until early next year – 2018 – but that come 2018 (in other words, in December of this year, the ANC elects new leadership). Thereafter, under any scenario, he moves off early next year. If he stays in as President of the ANC, it would be disastrous for the party and for the country, come the 2019 National Elections. The fact that the ANC have got (if I’m correct) 249 out of the 400 seats in Parliament, a significant amount of the ANC Members of Parliament did not vote for Jacob Zuma despite strict instructions to do so from the party, shows that the ANC is feeling the hurt.
The reality is that if the ANC could modernise itself, then the scenarios are that come next year, the Gauteng ANC, which is the most reformed-orientated grouping within the ANC and controls the economic heartland of South Africa (Gauteng Province) will split from the party. Then the ANC in 2019, falls below the 50% mark in the scenarios I’ve done in Fate of the Nation and the Democratic Alliance and the new party can probably run Gauteng. That would mean that two provinces (the Western Cape and Gauteng) are no longer under ANC control and the future of the party at national level is probably quite clear and not very inspiring. If you’ve lost the economic and urban heartland of the South African economy, then you rapidly become a rural party with declining election prospects. That really is the ‘nation divided’ scenario, politically.
And one that is least appealing for foreign investors when they’re looking at this, let alone the South African corporates who are sitting on (as you make the point) more than R1trn in cash on their balance sheets.
Yes, I think the figure R1.4trn was mentioned recently. They are not investing because they have no confidence in the future and because government flipflops and the incompetence and incoherence of government policy, which has become very pronounced in the last 5 to 6 years deters investment. The simple message really is that what South Africa needs to do is place employment at the heart of all economic decisions, and that it is only employment that can deal with poverty and inequality over the long-term, and employment in the formal sector. That means we need a government that is business friendly and a government that commits to growing the South Africa economy. South Africa has got considerable growth potential.
The ANC, despite for all the criticism, has done an amazing job in terms of investing in the provision of education, water, sanitation, electricity, and so on and so forth for the majority of poor South Africans. They have lifted millions of South Africans out of absolute poverty through social grants so, that all has created social and knowledge capital that shows that we have lots, and all our modelling, shows that we have significant growth potential. Yet, SA grows on average about 2% below the average of upper-middle income countries globally, and we’re an upper-middle income country and the reason for that is government policy. If we change and unlock SA’s growth potential we really can grow much more rapidly.
That is easier said than done. It requires, amongst others, and this is the Mandela magic route, that the Tripartite Alliance eventually dissolved. The Tripartite Alliance consists of the ANC, COSATU (Labour), and the SA Communist Party. Originally, South Africa’s economic policy was set by COSATU since 1994. Now, the ANC, a relatively small organisation that came out of exile, was beholden to labour, organised labour in South Africa, which was tremendously powerful in those days but COSATU is imploding and hugely important for South Africa for new reformist leadership within the ANC is to modernise our thinking on economic growth.
Whether you like it or not the only thing that can grow South Africa is the private sector. We need to grow the private sector but we need to channel that growth towards reducing inequality and so on and so forth. That partnership is now possible for a new leadership within the ANC. It was not possible in 1994. That can really unlock significant levels of growth and we are next door to a region of Southern Africa, which in our forecasting is going to have average growth rates of over 5%, on average for all its countries long term into the future so, we are really well positioned in the region.
You also talk a lot and the way you’re discussing it now I guess rabid free-enterprise or free marketers would be delighted to hear what you’re saying but you talk a lot about the developmental state and why the developmental state is imperative in the scenario that you’ve outlined.
Yes, and thanks for pointing to that. I’m a great fan of Ha-Joon Chang, a scholar who’s written a variety of books that point to largely the successes of South Korea and how the state investment had played a big role, which is nothing else what the Afrikaner did in South Africa after the 2nd World War. Yes, the private sector is responsible for growth but government is responsible to regulate that private sector and to channel investment in an appropriate directly and, also to make sure that it deals with the inequalities, the massive inequalities that we have. So, if we leave it to the private sector inequality in South Africa will increase. Poverty will increase because the nature of capital – that is where it will end up so, South Africa needs a strong developmental state but it needs a strong partnership with the private sector. In the concluding chapter of the book I quote a well-known academic from the University of Cape Town, Anthony Black, who makes the point that the South African economy needs to walk on two legs.
The one is the knowledge economy. That is the economy that we see in Cape Town with the movie industry and ICT, and so on and so forth. The other leg consists of the subsistence agricultural leg. It is the leg through which we provide employment and state support to a large cadre of unemployed in South Africa. Many of them as a result of apartheid and poor education, do not have the capacity to be part of a modern economy and we have to walk on both these legs. Transfer and empower, particularly with the South Africans but not the way Black Economic Empowerment or crony capitalism is happening at the moment. That I think has proven to result in massive corruption and eventually in ‘State Capture’ and we all know about the Guptas. To the extent to which government appointments, literally even cabinet appointments they are being done at the behest of the family. Atul Gupta is now one of the richest men in South Africa. The ANC seems to have entirely succumbed to the lure of capital themselves.
Those are the two trends that go throughout the book the BEE in its current form, which just promotes crony capitalism, as you’ve articulated, and then this very inefficient and corrupt government. Those, to many people, seem to be obstacles that are immovable. Are they?
Well, a lot of the inefficiency in government is really as a result of cadre deployment. Now everybody does cadre deployment. Cadre deployment is where sympathetic people from your party are deployed to position and you reward them. But in South Africa it’s taken extreme form so, all the state-owned enterprises, South African Airways, etcetera, suffer hugely under the deployment of a very small group of friends and business associates of, increasingly, the president, who are completely unsuited to the tasks that they have to do. The problem with Black Economic Empowerment is that ownership itself does not change employment. The essential argument of a book, let’s focus on our biggest problem and our biggest problem is employment in the formal sector. Let’s get the economy growing. Let us increase employment but let us use the proceeds of that growing economy to shift things.
One of the interesting things in South Africa is that the government is not prepared to admit to acknowledge the progress that has been made. The extent of structural transformation of the South African society and in our economy is almost unparalleled but it takes time and we want instant gratification and that’s very much what we see is happening within the ANC. It seems like a small grouping of an increasingly very wealthy circle of friends and business associates have a finger in every pie. They’re making huge amounts of money but they’re not increasing employment and they are certainly not spreading out the benefits of the South African economy.
At the same time really, efforts at land reform, etcetera, are stymied. They are not moving. Not because the policy or the money is not there but because of the inefficiency of government. So, you have a situation where there’s a lot of outcry about the lack of land reform in South Africa. But if you look at the figures of what has happened in land reform, a significant amount has happened and is happening but that is not reflected in the public discourse. The public discourse is all about more needs to be done but if you talk to Agri SA, the agricultural body, and you look at the figures then we are making progress. You do not undo 50, 60, or 100 years of apartheid in 10 or 20 years.
Apartheid is based, at its core, on the proceedings from education. The advancement of a particular segment of society, (a white segment), through the investment of all kinds of advantages and that is happening in SA but it cannot happen purely on the back of a relatively small tax base. It needs to really be based on growing the economy, a common vision of where we want South Africa to grow. Where we all get together, all South Africans, decide where we want to go and we stick with those guidelines. We don’t chop and change them every 5 minutes, which is what’s happening, for example in the mining sector. But we set goals and then we work collectively to those goals.
What we have in South Africa is a private sector and government that are literally at war with one another. Again, the mining sector is a very good example so, we need a clear vision. We need to decide how we are going to transform ourselves and then we jointly have to work at that future and that certainly, is not the current situation.
So, you have the playing field, if you like, and as a consequence of what happens to that playing field and as a consequence of what happens to that playing field is one of three scenarios. But even your best scenario, even the Mandela magic scenario, is not the one that one would hope or certainly isn’t sufficient to start biting into the masses of unemployed that are in the country. As a foreign investor reading this book, you’ve got to think twice before putting any money into South Africa even if the most optimistic scenario were to transpire.
You know, South African’s historical growth rate, since the 2nd World War, is 3.4%. We have grown rapidly for example, during the late 60’s, and again under Thabo Mbeki and the GEAR (Growth, Employment and Redistribution) Program in the late 90’s and early 2000. In 1993, average income levels in South Africa were the same as it was in 1970. So, South Africa since 1970 has been going backwards and so forth. The scenarios are not blue skies. They are informed by what we think is possible and the book in actual fact, makes the argument, I hope, that without a much more fundamental restructuring of the South African economy we will not be able to unlock the rates of growth that we really need.
Under Mandela Magic South Africa, averages about 3.3% of growth to 2034 but it takes about 10 years to undo the damage of President Jacob Zuma era because we’ve gone backward since Zuma took over. It’s not all his fault. It was in the headwind of global economic slowdown and there was a draught and all kinds of things that Zuma has had to face but he has compounded all of that through poor management and through the focus on survival instead of growing the South African economy. That all needs to change so yes, a lot needs to change in South Africa. We have a capital-intensive economy. We need all kinds of changes in terms of regulatory frameworks to free up, particularly the rural economy. Get away from a system that is moving backwards towards tribal and communal land title toward individual land title, etcetera.
If all of that happens then we can grow more rapidly. All that happens in Mandela Magic realistically, is that South Africa grows at its real potential. It doesn’t take us to where we need to go. Having said all that the potential for South Africa, longer term, is relatively bright. Beyond 10, 15, 20 years. If you look at the graphs and the forecasts in the book you say we come from a very low level but the momentum builds up. Once you are in a positive momentum it will sustain us years beyond the forecast in the book.
But that’s long term and in the long term we’re all dead. The most likely scenario though, you outline is this underperforming football team, Bafana Bafana. First of all, how likely is that, if you were to put a probability on it and secondly, what does that look like?
So, Bafana Bafana is where, come December of this year, the ANC opts for unity. It says, ‘we are so divided what we want is, for example, a compromised team.’ Cyril Ramaphosa as president, and Dlamini Zuma maybe as deputy president. This is where the ANC basically, does not resolve its ideological divide, this big divide between the Traditionalists and Reformers. So, you have a continuation of South African policy where the ANC talks left and walks slightly right. And you have less incoherence in cabinet then you have at the moment. It’s very difficult to see how you could have more incoherence than what we have at the moment – but it’s not a high-performance team.
It’s not a team that really looks at how to maximise growth and that’s why we call this the Bafana Bafana scenario. South Africa grows at, I think, it’s 2.3% on average to 2034, coming from where we are. Things are okay but it’s certainly not a scenario in which we exit from this situation because what then needs to happen is that our future will be determined by how quickly competitive politics can drive our economy.
Now, under almost scenarios the ANC will lose control of the Gauteng Province in 2019. If we look at the improvements in the service delivery that have happened in the Western Cape compared to the other Provinces. That has been driven by competitive politics, the Democratic Alliance has improved the quality of management in the Province. Therefore, the Western Cape and, to a lesser extent, Gauteng Province, are growing. The rest of South Africa is not growing. These kinds of competitive politics will take a longer time in the Bafana Bafana scenario, to evidence themselves in SA than in any other of the scenarios.
What about black swans? What about an Emmanuel Macron appearing on the scene as he did in France?
Yes, well it’s so interesting of course, is that it’s old countries like France, and Canada that are producing young leaders. We, in Africa, with the youngest population in the world – we are stuck with the old guys and there are very few women amongst them. Yes, the forecasts are nothing more than thinking tools. The one thing that I’m sure of is that they will be wrong, so they are thinking tools and there are all kinds of black swans that can happen in South Africa and I don’t really expand upon many of them in the book but leadership change, an implosion for example, of the EFF, or the DA, or even the ANC is probably the most obvious black swan that we can point too. Apart from, of course things that we all wonder about daily. Such as a nuclear war, with the US attacking North Korea, and these kinds of issues, of which we do not have any control.
One of the black swans could be, and I’m just going to throw this at you from a complete left field – secession. There is a very small party in the Cape that calls itself the Cape Party that wants to take the Cape out of SA. There are other movements towards succession and in history, when you have a nation that is tacked together as SA was in 1910. There are always pressures when there’s difficult times that hit. Do you rate that as something that could upset all the scenarios?
A development like that would, of course would upset I think, or thinking about the future of South Africa. I think that is indeed a long shot and in the book, I don’t take that as a serious potential development. The book sets out broad trends about where South Africa is headed and what is important, Alec, that under all three scenarios, South Africa grows. Even in our worst-case scenario – South Africa grows and it’s important. Many South Africans are exceptionally negative, particularly white South Africans, but if you look at employment figures amongst white South Africans, the quality of life, etc, this still is an amazing country and there’s lots of potential. It’s also a country that’s going through very rapid change and the future is no longer what it was 3 or 4 years ago.
The implosion of the ANC under Jacob Zuma is opening up new political possibilities and the main theme in the book is that those political choices will determine our future, and that is coming closer every day. So, don’t look potential secession and these kinds of issues but I think in terms of, while it may not appear that way. The underlying story is in a sense a story that the future is ours to shape. It is not necessarily, because we are making, particularly the ANC, all the mistakes. They can undo many of those mistakes and there are many quick wins that we can achieve in South Africa.
If you have new leadership, for example, early next year and they simply decide that senior civil service appointments are largely going to be one on merit. That itself will unlock – it will change, for example, state owned enterprises like South Africa Airways – you could probably turn that around in a year or two. There is so much that can be unlocked that is really the result of political interference in the economy.
The interesting thing is that does appear to be happening. SA Airways has got a highly rated CEO. A similar story is going on at the SABC, where the old guard is out and a very promising looking new board has been introduced. In other state-owned enterprises perhaps the movement has been a little slower, but is there something happening in the background that we aren’t taking notice of yet?
Yes, I think what is happening is that the 8th vote of No Confidence that you referred to a little bit earlier, has demonstrated the weakness of President Jacob Zuma. The traditionalist faction that he heads is weakening by the day. They have lost their ability to determine and he has lost his ability to dispense largesse, to pay off and hold this alliance together. On the other side, business civil society and ordinary urban South Africans, in particular, are coming together. I think the last time we saw this was in the late 1980’s with the rise of United Democratic Front and other social movements in South Africa, and the courts have held together. The media has held together so, South Africa has demonstrated the strength of our democracy and the strength of many of our institutions.
When investors look at South Africa and they look at the rest of Africa I think they’re looking at potential positive stories about how these institutions have been able to defy and hold together against an attack to undermine everything, from Treasury to the Reserve Bank, to media and elsewhere. I think that that has shown the resilience, and the institutions in South Africa have shown a resilience that you will not see almost anywhere else in Africa.
So, don’t get too weighed down by the issues of crime and corruption that is going on by the possibilities or the anger that one sees in society, and certainly race driven anger, because this too shall pass?
Yes. When I roll out the book in South Africa at the moment, my heart sort of sighs when I present to white audiences because the sense of negativism amongst Indian, Afrikaans speaking white audiences is pulpable. All their children have left or are leaving and they look and say, ‘is there a future for us?’ Of course, there is a bright future for them. Maybe not in the sense politically and if you work with and for the state. Generally, I think South Africa has got a lot going for it. We are in a region that is going to grow and there is lots of opportunities in South Africa and elsewhere.
There is also a huge potential of South Africans, particularly white qualified South Africans and others that are prepared to return to South Africa and invest and take the country forward if we do certain things like change our inward skills migration policy, etcetera. So, there’s a lot of upward potential, I think, in South Africa.
But first you need to get the right result in December.
Yes, and a lot depends on what is happening in the ANC and really, that’s where the book starts off. Fate of the Nation starts off with the infighting within the ANC and points to the fact that the decisions that are going to be made in December of this year are going to have a huge impact on South Africa’s future long-term. That is where it starts and those decisions will determine whether the ANC can reform and lead South Africa and take us into the 21st Century or whether you will see a traditionalist grouping within the ANC triumph and South Africa take even more pain before, hopefully competitive politics extricates us from that rather dismal future.
But that is in inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.
We look at amazement of what is happening in many countries and I think the quality of like and what South Africa has to offer still offers many investors and many South Africans a great future.
Given that the scenarios have been scientifically approached. Given that you’ve done more work on this than anybody else alive today. If a young man or woman were to come to you, it doesn’t matter what race or colour they are, but with globally manageable skills or exportable skills – would your advice be to them ‘hold off from decisions until after December?’ Is it that critical – what’s coming around the corner?
I think in a sense it is. The world is no longer a place where we get our skills and stay in one place. If you are skilled enough you can move to where the jobs are and this is the problem that South Africa has. For the last 50, 60, or 70 years most of the education budget, until 1994, was devoted to educating white South Africans. They have skills, they can leave and that’s what they’re doing. We need to change that environment where we attract skills. It doesn’t matter from whom. And that South Africans of all classes, races stay in the country and return to the country to grow the economy. That will only happen if we can provide a framework or clarity. If we can provide security for the future, for your children and for investment and we can attract what is required to grow our economy.
That unfortunately, is largely going to be determined by what is going to happen in the ANC. The situation therefore, until 2019, when we have our next general elections, is probably going to be still somewhat uncertain. There is a lot that can be happen before then but the ANC’s future is going to be determined, in my view, by what is going to happen in December. If the ANC does not reinvigorate and go through a generational adaptation to grow South Africa, the ANC itself, will suffer the consequences. In the long term as you’ve said, we’re all dead, but over the long term, competitive politics in a democratic environment is the best guarantee for a future prosperous South Africa, and we are getting there.
We are getting there more rapidly than most other African countries but we had to go through our own post-colonial, post-independent experience. Because we have a more educated population, more urbanised, etcetera, we are quite different to the rest of Africa in many of these dimensions. South Africa is going through that trauma more rapidly and can exit from it more rapidly than almost any other country in Africa.
Well, a hopeful note to end off with. Your shout-out on your front page is from Cyril Ramaphosa. ‘Incisive, bold, and sobering a revealing forecast and a call to action.’ I presume that he would be the man that if you could wave a magic wand and select somebody to win in December – he’d be the one to get your vote?
Yes, of course, Cyril was kind enough to provide that quote. I gave him a copy of the copy after it was finished and the positive scenario is in a sense predicated upon a victory by the reformist camp within the ANC. He’s in the main advocate of a new direction for South Africa. I’m not sure if he can deliver that, but I’m really hoping that him and others in the ANC read the book and take the forecast seriously because this is a book that is firstly predicated upon political forecasts and then models the impact of the political decisions long term to say, okay, this is where we are headed under current conditions. “Hopefully this will tell you that not only do we have to change policies and leadership and unlock the economy. But we need even more innovative policies to get South Africa to grow to the 5.5%, 6% growth that the National Development Plan says we need to reduce unemployment and inequality in South Africa.” The only way to do that is through growing employment and that, at the end of the day, should be at the heart of economic policies for any party that wants to lead South Africa, if we want to deal with the social ills that apartheid bequeathed us.
Jakkie, I’ve got to ask you this final question because it does appear in the book as well. The split in the ANC. The hiving off of what you call the ‘New ANC Party’ after the vote of no confidence there would be some who would interpret the elective conference in December is really just going to be a rubber stamping for Zuma’s successor and that it would make more sense, in fact we’ve got somebody writing about that on BizNews today, for Ramaphosa and Co for the reformist to leave now. Would that be your view?
No, I think that what is happening is that Dr Dlamini Zuma, who is the main opponent of Ramaphosa, has in actual fact seen her star wane. Her association with the Premier League, cronyism and corruption within the ANC. She herself has not been accused of any of that but she drives the populist narrative. In my view, Ramaphosa is slowly and steadily gaining strength and momentum and I think he’s the one to beat. I would, if I were a betting man, I would increasingly put my money on the reformers. Remember that the most likely scenario in Fate of the Nation is that we have a compromise outcome. That eventually, you have the Bafana Bafana scenario where Ramaphosa and Dlamini Zuma come together in some kind of uncomfortable alliance. But what is clear for me and what I think should be clear for the ANC is that if they do not modernise the party – that the future of the ANC is that of declining influence. It is only by urbanising and moving the ANC support base, back into a class-based, non-racial movement that is largely urban-based and employment-based that the ANC can save itself from itself. That is a big task for anybody. That will require all the skills of somebody like Ramaphosa but, as I’ve said, he has certain advantages like the implosion of labour (COSATU) in South Africa and the stranglehold that they have had on the economic policy in South Africa.
Jakkie Cilliers is the founder of the Institute for Security Studies in SA. A full-bright scholar and the author of ‘Fate of the Nation – Three Scenarios for SA’s Future.’
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.