Failed project: South Africa’s economic & social decay worst for any non-war-torn country

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Recent research from think tank Eunomix Business & Economics suggests that a much more sober view of South Africa is overdue. The study found that South Africa endured one of the worst declines over the past 12 years for a country not at war.

The country’s performance on a range of social, economic, and governance measures deteriorated more than any other nation not involved in an international or civil conflict, it said.

An index of security, governance, prosperity, and welfare indicators showed South Africa slumped to 88th out of 178 nations last year from 31st in 2006.

The Johannesburg-based advisory company said the decline is likely to continue as South Africa is grappling with the consequences of nine years of worsening corruption and policy paralysis under former President Jacob Zuma and his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, Eunomix said. And the ANC (African National Congress) has yet again won a majority in country’s general election despite its disastrous record, destroying any hope that the South Africa will ever turn in the right direction.

Only conflict-torn countries such as Mali, Ukraine, and Venezuela have had a worse time in the past decade than South Africa, said Eunomix.

According to the think tank, the major reason of the nation’s massive decline is the unsustainable structure of South Africa’s economy where economic power is largely held by an elite that wields little political influence.

“Economic policy serves narrow interests, thus generating insufficient and unfairly allocated growth. Populism, rather than developmentalism, is an easy temptation, with the economy a tug-of-war between mutually distrustful groups.”

Eunomix also said that while Ramaphosa spent his first 14 months in power pledging a crackdown on corruption, an end to policy uncertainty and a drive to reform loss-making state-owned companies, his political weakness hinders progress.

“South Africa’s state performance peaked in 2007, that year its economy and governance were at their best. Since then the state has experienced continuous decline in all core indicators of performance.”

“The developmental state project has failed. South Africa is now a fragile state, expected to continue to weaken,” Eunomix said.

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