Gatvol population needs a glimmer of hope very soon

13 July 2017 - 07:57 By The Times Editorial
A shopper tries to make up his mind. File photo.
A shopper tries to make up his mind. File photo.

New research shows South Africans have been down in the dumps for longer now than any time since the grip of apartheid sanctions in 1982.

That fact - released by Stellenbosch University's Bureau for Economic Research - is startling and it should also be sobering for the ANC.

Our problems don't lie with "white monopoly capital" or any of the other fictional bogeymen being thrown around. The bureau's research tells a simpler story: South Africans are more gatvol than they have been since the nastiest grip of the National Party regime.

The bureau's research shows consumer confidence has now had a sustained period of pessimism for more than three years. Now any ANC strategist should be able to draw some correlations from this data. The three-year hangover also coincides with the nose- dive in the ANC's electoral support.

What we see, unsurprisingly, is that ANC factionalism and turmoil, ill-considered cabinet reshuffles, rolling revelations about state capture and the hand of the Zuma administration in it all, are deeply depressing.

Ordinary South Africans looking ahead to the future need to have a horizon that doesn't end at the tips of their noses. Right now that horizon ends in December at the ANC's electoral conference but we need to be able to look further ahead and to believe things will get better.

It would be trite in South Africa for us to echo Bill Clinton's reminder that it's "the economy, stupid" because here it's not really about the economy - it's about our politics, our leaders and a betrayal of promises. The economy is simply one of the victims. But we're stupid if we ignore how wrong these numbers tell us we've gone.