South Africa

South Africa closer to a failed state


South Africa is coming closer to being a failed state, with national and local governments unable to provide many basic services outlined in the Constitution. 

This is the view of Lumkile Mondi, a senior lecturer at the School of Economics and Business Science at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mondi was speaking on 702 with Bruce Whitfield. 

Business leaders have become increasingly outspoken in criticising the government and its economic failings. 

MTN CEO Ralph Mupita warned in the company’s annual results that South Africa is at risk of becoming a failed state. 

FirstRand CEO Alan Pullinger said South Africa’s support for Russia could have “extremely negative consequences” for the country.

Pullinger highlighted that South Africa benefits far more from its trade and economic partnerships with the United States, the UK, and Europe than from Russia.

Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala also urged the government to ensure its position on Russia does not adversely impact South Africa’s financial institutions.

Tshabalala also noted the growing risk of a total blackout in South Africa and its catastrophic impact on the country. 

Nedbank CEO Mike Brown said economic growth and job creation suffer because the government failed to fix Eskom and stop load-shedding.

He previously said the damage done to South Africa’s economy over the last ten years is greater than many people thought. It means that the turnaround is going to be slower.

Many more have complained about the adverse effects of load-shedding and inefficient logistical services from Transnet. 

Daniel Mminele. Source: GCIS

The most notable warning came from Daniel Mminele, a former South African Reserve Bank deputy governor, Absa CEO, and Nedbank chair-designate. 

Mminele has over two decades of experience working at state institutions, in the Reserve Bank and as the head of the Presidential Climate Finance Task Team. 

This gives his critique added weight with his intimate knowledge of how the state functions in South Africa. 

Mminele warned, “we are indeed, as many have said, running the risk of becoming a failed state because we’re already on borrowed time.”

He also called for a “higher sense of urgency in tackling these issues and much stronger implementation frameworks and stronger accountability frameworks”. 

South Africans are turning away from government 

Lumkile Mondi, senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Economics and Business Science

Lumkile Mondi said that the population usually feels a failed state long before it comes to be defined as such by academics. 

A failed state is defined as one that cannot provide basic services, such as policing, healthcare, education, and essential infrastructure. 

Mondi said that he and his academic colleagues had noted these characteristics in South Africa, where there are areas where the state is failing to meet its basic responsibilities outlined in the Constitution. 

Wealthier South Africans are cushioned from these failures as they can afford private alternatives in vital sectors such as education, security, and healthcare. 

However, poorer people are also finding alternatives to reliance on state-run services through community groups, co-operatives, or more nefarious means such as stealing batteries, generators, or solar panels. 

According to Mondi, the state only really matters to grant recipients who rely on it for their livelihood. 

“Even at the bottom, the only relevance is to the R350 recipient. Generally, people go on as though the state is non-existent”. 

The main concern is the state’s inability to enforce the rule of law and guarantee the safety of its citizens. 

With rising discontent and crime, this will have dire consequences for the economy and people’s livelihoods.

However, Mondi did point out that South Africa is not a failed state on the level of Syria, Somalia, or Lebanon. But, the state is failing on too many fronts and must heed the warnings from business leaders.


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