Published on News24: 15 February 2018
With former president Jacob Zuma having taken his last gasp before sinking beneath the waves of change, South Africa is set to explode with opportunity for economic resurgence and political healing.
While many experts remain sceptical of Ramaphosa’s capacity to purge the ANC of its criminal and incompetent elements, the ousting of Zuma is certainly an encouraging step in the right direction. This should be taken to heart by all those citizens who were on the verge of losing all hope and/or emigrating to other parts of the world.
The fact is, there's no better stoker of South African optimism than a rallying Rand. Since November 2017, the Rand has gained almost 20% in value against major currencies, far outstripping its emerging market counterparts.
This is a clear ‘thumbs-up’ from the international community who appear bullish about the trajectory that South Africa is embarking on. And their confidence is not unfounded … our nation is rising up from the ashes of corruption, patronage, racial rhetoric, stagnant growth, rampant unemployment, widespread social unrest, populist economic policy, debilitating political uncertainty and, not to mention, international ridicule.
One just has to walk the streets to get that growing sense of optimism – something we haven’t felt for a long time. There’s an edge of anticipation when conversing with people of every colour, creed and background – ranging from street vendors to CEOs.
It’s palpable and we must continue to nurture it like the first flame of a fire, because if we do, this country will explode into the ‘African Lion’ of educational reform, economic growth, accelerating employment and, in turn, upliftment of the poor/uneducated on an unimaginable scale.
The curse of emigration
But, the sad truth is, our nation has been the laughing stock of all those nations that have gained from South Africa’s unprecedented skills emigration over the last decade.
Countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, Ireland and the United Kingdom have been more than happy to welcome our swathes of qualified professionals looking to live in countries that offer more secure prospects for themselves and their children. The negative impact of this skills exodus cannot be overstated, and South Africa’s economy (and family network) is all the poorer for it.
Travelling to New Zealand last week for the Coast to Coast race, there were a number of passengers on my flight who were either visiting family who have already emigrated there; were emigrating there themselves; or were visiting to see whether New Zealand was a viable country to emigrate to. The numbers were staggering, and this was just a single flight.
Let us hope that Ramaphosa turns out to be an extraordinary statesman who can regain the trust of our nation and turn the tide on this emigration tsunami.
Let us also hope that Ramaphosa recognises the importance of teamwork irrespective of race, because only as a united people will we be able to overcome the challenges that stand ahead of us.
Generally speaking, race relations on the ground in South Africa are far better than the news media and social media suggest – better in fact than nations such as Australia, the US and the UK where both racial and religious tension is more conspicuous than it is here.
Yes, there are pockets of racial tension across our nation, but the vast majority of South Africans of all races get on extremely well and have the utmost respect for one another – and we shouldn’t let racially-motivated activists and policy undermine this respect.
Ride the wave of patriotism
It’s early days, but few can deny that today is looking much brighter than yesterday. South Africa is an incredible nation and if there was ever a time for South Africans to ride the wave of patriotism, now is surely that time.
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