Media release

Comments on The Economist 'South Africa Survey'

23 February 2001

23 February 2001

In response to media queries regarding the assessment of the situation in South Africa by The Economist of 24 February 2001, government wishes to state that the Survey is a contribution to discourse on critical challenges facing our country and the efforts of government and all South Africans to tackle these challenges.

In the overall, the Survey frankly and comprehensively sketches the legacy that democratic South Africa has inherited, and acknowledges that eradicating this legacy will be a protracted process.

Our assessment is that the Survey correctly asserts that South Africa today is a country far much better, freer and more open than it was before 1994. It acknowledges the progress that is being made in managing the economy and creating an even better environment for investment, and to improve the quality of life of all the people, especially the poor, in such areas as education, electricity, building of houses and land redistribution.

While capturing the author’s assessment of weaknesses in carrying out some of the programmes of transformation, in virtually all instances, the Survey acknowledges that such weaknesses are being dealt with. This includes such matters as crime, the HIV/AIDS campaign and the pace of transformation in education and land redistribution.

One can take issues with the balance in the Survey, between the reflection of the legacy of apartheid and the author’s perception of weaknesses in the transformation process on the one hand, and the positive results of the efforts of government to build a better life for all, on the other. Indeed, we are of the view that, while much space is given to a description of problems, the progress in dealing with, and corrective measures to improve, governance and social delivery are treated briefly and mainly in the concluding paragraphs of each section.

We believe that one of the reasons behind this limitation is that the Survey was conducted some 2 months ago; and it has, with regard to comprehensive government programmes in particular, been overtaken by events. Indeed, if it had taken into account the government’s Programme for 2001 articulated by the President and Ministers, including the Budget Speech of the Minister of Finance, in the past two weeks, the balance in these reflections would have been different.

These programmes deal with decisive action by government to speed up the rate of economic investment and job-creation, human resource development, integrated programmes further to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged communities in rural and urban areas, and improved efforts in dealing with crime and corruption. As the President emphasised in his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on 9 February 2001, these and other programmes will require unity in action, among all South Africans of all races, for change.

In addition to these programmes, government has set out a strategy to ensure even better flow of information to the citizens, local and foreign media and various sectors of the international community.

Government is of the firm view that, united in action, South Africans will make even faster progress in changing their lives for the better. This much, and more, including the position of South Africa as a favourable investment destination, has been acknowledged by the author of the Survey in the briefings conducted in South Africa in the past two days.

Joel Netshitenzhe
Cell: 082 900 0083

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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