South Africa currently sits on a knife edge and the next 18 months are pivotal: Will we slide off a slippery slope into the arms of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan-supported country and become another African casualty, or will we rise to become the jewel of Africa?
Our future is in the hands of our politicians and electorate, and the questions about our fate will be known in some 18 months’ time come the 2019 General Elections.
If the ANC, now run by Cyril Ramaphosa, can emerge from its current internal turmoil and regain lost votes in the metros, it may garner more than 50% of the votes in the 2019 General Election. If the “legacy faction” within the ANC remains unchecked and corruption continues, as it appears with the recent “legacy faction” majority in the recent NEC elections, then even the rural voters could turn against the ANC at the polls.
If the ANC’s alliance partners in the form of the SA Communist Party (SACP) and trade union Cosatu break the alliance as they have promised to do, this will take away a sizeable chunk of support from the ANC at the polls. No doubt, Ramaphosa will use all his considerable skill to at least keep Cosatu in the alliance; political egos, however, are very fragile things.
A weakened ANC which garners less than 50% of the votes at the 2019 General Election will then have to find a coalition party to continue running the country. Its choices are either the DA or the EFF, or possibly a Cosatu or SACP party if they do indeed break away.
An ANC-DA coalition will be viewed positively by investors and lenders, locally and globally; we are going to be very dependent on foreign investment and foreign loans to keep our anaemic economy from collapsing and for any meaningful job growth to occur. Interest rates could even decline as foreign investors and lenders are joined by local investors and lenders committing themselves to a South Africa with a future to become the jewel of Africa.
An ANC-EFF coalition is likely to be viewed negatively by investor and lender viewpoints as the EFF’s economic announcements to date have been for large-scale nationalisation, without compensation insufficient enough to keep investors and lenders on board, locally and globally. This could see a massive potential capital flight and the reintroduction of stringent capital controls to keep South Africa liquid. Interest rates will rise meaningfully and the precipice of economic, and with it social, collapse will be in sight.
Should the ANC obtain 50%-plus of the vote at the 2019 General Election and should Ramaphosa bring in the people approved of by local and foreign investors and lenders (people of the ilk of Pravin Gordhan and even Trevor Manuel), South Africa can then build slowly from its low base and move up the slope away from the precipice of economic and social collapse.
South Africa’s focus of becoming the jewel of Africa can see it positioned to become a powerhouse in the region. By 2050, only 32 years away, Africa will be home to 1 out of every 4 people on earth. During the next 32 years, Africa will add another 1,5 billion people to its population, according to the United Nations. To put this into perspective, China currently has 1,3 billion people so Africa will have another China to feed, house, clothe, educate, provide health facilities and create employment for in the next 32 years.
South Africa, if it plays its cards right, could be the place to live, work and play for the better earning Africans on the continent. South Africa could encourage the cream of Africa to live within its borders, bringing with it foreign investment and job-creating opportunities.
From a property perspective this would bring strong demand for residential and non-residential space, and prices and rentals would rise appreciably.
It appears that an ANC government with enlightened, intelligent and foreign investor- and lender-approved cabinet ministers with Cyril Ramaphosa at the helm could make this a reality, in time.
However, a potential ANC-DA coalition running the country from mid-2019 could make this a reality quicker as the DA has proved itself in running a number of major metros in South Africa.
The knife edge is very real and the next 18 months will dictate the path down which our country will go.
Opinion: Neville Berkowitz, founder of The Property Economist (1980) and founder of HomeBid – South Africa’s largest low-commission estate agency (2015)