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South Africa's vision of a bright future

         Date: 2012-04-27

           Tag: South Africa, South Africa vision

Summary: The South Africa Vision 2030 represents the efforts of our youthful nation to start preparing for middle age; for our government to puzzle over the challenges we face and find solutions to them.

The South Africa Vision 2030 represents the efforts of our youthful nation to start preparing for middle age; for our government to puzzle over the challenges we face and find solutions to them.

The past 18 years have also seen some breath-taking advances, not least of which was our peaceful transition which led many to describe it as a miracle.

As we prepare for our fifth general elections, this political stability is continuously being appreciated, treasured and reinforced. The extremely enlightened constitution of South Africa which underpins this robust democracy remains the lodestar of the entire nation.

The dividend from this peaceful transition is felt most tangibly in the dramatic growth of the South African economy, making it the 27th largest in the world. For example in the period 2003 to 2008 the country saw economic growth rates averaging 5 per cent per annum. The country suffered a mild recession in 2009 but was back in positive territory in 2010 and has remained firmly moving north ever since.

The World Bank recently reported that real returns on investment in South Africa reached very high figures before the global melt down. From 2005 to 2008 it averaged 22 per cent — the same as China. During the first decade of the 2000s returns in construction was 85 percent.

This is followed by retail/wholesale trade sectors returns which averaged 60 per cent, while the financial sector rose from 8 per cent in the 1990s to 20 per cent, and manufacturing rose from 17 per cent to 25 per cent.

However all this growth and returns on investment has had limited impact on our levels of unemployment, on the skills base of the country, on the level of innovation and so forth. This has a direct impact on issues such as crime, sexual attacks, and the healing of communities divided and still devastated by the effects of apartheid which lasted far too many decades.

Just as Abu Dhabi’s wise leadership created a strategic framework with clearly identified pillars of society to sustain its development, so too has South Africa announced its own Vision 2030 complete with a National Development Plan.

The vision aims to transform South Africa over the next 18 years into an ideal model of growth and employment, leadership and innovation, sustainability and resources and society and technology.

Paradigm shift

As part of a democratic approach to creating a pathway framework, President Jacob Zuma appointed an advisory commission in May 2010 to draft a vision and plan for the country, which was released for comment at the end of 2011.

The commission, chaired by former minister of finance and now Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, itself consists of heavyweights drawn from business, academia, trade unions and NGOs. At the core of this Vision 2030 is a major paradigm shift characterised by the following:

•An unrelenting focus on employment. This would be part of a virtuous circle leading to growth and poverty reduction, contributing to an improvement in living standards. In this way economic conditions are meant to improve, creating more opportunities for businesses as well as raising the level of the capabilities of the work force.

•Running through this process is the golden thread of social cohesion. With the very high levels of income inequality South Africa has to endure, we will need to ensure that the rainbow nation holds together.

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