Tue Oct 25 08:39:12 SAST 2016

Time for unity and resolve as SA faces an uncertain future

The Times Editorial | 04 January, 2016 00:06

For the first time since our young democracy was forged against the odds in 1994, South Africa faces an uncertain future.

Make no mistake - the faltering economy, yawning inequality, lack of political leadership, government meddling in critical public institutions, mounting state debt and corruption, and spiralling protests threaten our democratic project.

Everything depends on how we head off what could become a full-blown crisis.

Will democracy be deepened through greater contestation between political parties in the upcoming local elections, resulting in improved service delivery, or will a weakened ANC continue to muddle through?

Will civil society, workers and students, through the courts and peaceful protest, ensure that it is not business as usual for our grasping political elite?

The ANC looks as if it will stick with President Jacob Zuma, at least until after the municipal polls, but it will need to ask itself whether it can afford to have him leading the country until 2019.

His administration's immediate problem - apart from beating off the challenges of the DA and the EFF - is to ensure that the economy starts growing in order to create the jobs we so desperately need, and to increase the tax base to fund major infrastructure projects.

Convincing investors that their money is safe here is made difficult by anti-business bills that threaten property rights. Policies that seek to strip commercial farmers of their land also need a rethink.

Transformation is essential, but not at the expense of our revenue base or food security.

But it is not just the government that must up its game to ensure that we turn the corner.

Business leaders and unions need to find each other to promote investment and safeguard jobs. Opposition political leaders need to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric and protesters need to ensure that they never, ever, resort to violence.

The gains we have made over the past 21 years are too precious to squander.


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