Cyril Ramaphosa celebrates South Africa’s slow economic growth – which is worse than Zimbabwe

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ruling ANC ensured the “economy has tripled in size since 1994”. He did not reveal that it is the worst performance among all its peers.

During his Freedom Day speech on 27 April, Ramaphosa said they are correcting the injustices of the past and working to realise the full potential of an economy.

He claimed that under the ANC government, every person has a stake in the economy and has the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution.

“Although there have been setbacks, although we have faced challenges both beyond our borders and at home, our economy has tripled in size since 1994,” he said.

He also highlighted that South Africans in employment increased from eight million in 1994 to over 16.7 million now.

Ramaphosa added that they have “made much progress” in ensuring that all South Africans share in the country’s wealth.

When people hear that the economy has tripled or that the number of people who are employed has doubled, they may be impressed.

However, using absolute figures for a 30-year period is disingenuous and makes things sound much better than they really are.

It is much better to compare a country’s economic growth with that of its peers or preceding periods. Here are three examples.

  • In US dollars, South Africa’s economy grew five times faster in the 30 years before the ANC took power than in the 30 years after it took power.
  • Angola’s economy grew six times faster than South Africa’s over the last thirty years.
  • Even Zimbabwe’s economy, devastated by poor economic decisions, performed better over the last 30 years than South Africa’s.

These statistics are a more realistic way to assess South Africa’s economic performance under ANC rule.

It showed that the ANC government was an incredibly destructive force, crushing economic growth over the last fifteen years.

Ramaphosa did not mention that South Africa’s economy, measured in US$, is now significantly smaller than in 2011.

The World Bank’s data for South Africa showed that the local economy shrunk from $458 billion in 2011 to $405 billion in 2022.

Increasing population growth means that South Africans have become much poorer over the last decade.

This is not a good story to tell, which is why Ramaphosa focuses on misleading figures like tripling the economy over the last 30 years.

South Africa’s poor economic growth

A good way to assess South Africa’s economy under ANC rule is to compare it to its peers – geographically and as an emerging market economy.

For this comparison, Daily Investor used data from the World Bank, where GDP growth is measured in US dollars.

It shows that all its neighbours, including Zimbabwe, significantly outperformed South Africa since the ANC took the reigns.

It also shows that all BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – outperformed South Africa.

The data, therefore, shows that South Africa’s economy performed exceedingly poorly – definitely nothing to celebrate.

South Africa versus its neighbours

CountryGDP growth in USD since 1994
South Africa175%

South Africa versus BRICS countries

CountryGDP growth in USD since 1994
South Africa175%


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