State of the Nation.

The state of the nation is something that is uppermost in many of our minds at the moment, so I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to hear two separate presentations by two of our top commentators.

The first was by political commentator Justice Malala, and his first statement was a shocking, if somewhat amusing statistic.In Greece, he said, people’s mistrust of the banking system has resulted in an estimated £50bn in cash being kept in homes. What is the result? A 700% increase in home burglaries!

This serves to illustrate the knock on effect of political and economic instability. According to Malala, Marikana and its aftermath will have a major impact on the psyche of South Africans.

Mining investment is going down, strikes will continue and some will be violent and the NUM will lose its standing as the biggest union in Cosatu. At a time when political and economic uncertainty has led to South African companies sitting on R540 billion in uninvested cash, Marikana has cost us R14 billion.

Malala called for a clear decision on nationalisation to be taken by the ANC at Mangaung. He pointed out that the ANC does not have the money to buy the mines and the result of nationalisation will be investment leaving SA.

I share his curiosity about the new concept of strategic nationalisation which is expected to be unpacked at Mangaung in December.

Malala commented that the motivation for people to join the ANC had changed. In the past it was about ideology, now it is all about wealth and money.

He fully expects Jacob Zuma to win a second term, and believes that this will compound the already clear swing away from the ANC by disaffected voters. His prediction is that ANC will only get about 58% of the vote in 2014 and the ANC will lose the election for the first time in 2024.

During this time, China will become even more of a force on the continent. Unemployment and education are still major challenges and Brazilian investment in Africa grew from US$69 in 2001 to US $214 in 2009. South Africa is losing its position as the gateway to Africa to Nigeria and Ghana.

My readers know I like to end on a positive note, so I have found one from Malala’s presentation: there are great opportunities and excellent sources of funds for large scale infrastructure development.

More about the other talk I attended in my next blog.

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