South Africa

Government losing control of the country


The government is losing control of the country as South Africans no longer trust it to follow through on its stated policies or engage effectively with the population. 

The Afrobarometer, with assistance from Insititute for Justice and Reconciliation, interviewed over 1,500 adults South Africans to study their perceptions of key institutions and government officials. 

Public trust in key institutions has remained weak, with only 27% of South Africans in 2022 (2021: 38%) saying that they trust the president “somewhat” or “a lot.”

Trust in Parliament also dropped from 28% to 23%, which the Afrobarometer links to ongoing scandals surrounding members of parliament and a perception of ineffective anti-corruption laws. 

Political analyst Khaya Sithole told 702 that this loss of trust in the government would negatively affect the country. 

“In the South African context, it is unsurprising that there is a loss of faith. What is alarming is how deep the loss of faith in the government’s ability to do anything has been,” Sithole said. 

Such a deep loss of trust in the government will make it difficult to engage with South Africans about policy matters “because as soon as they start talking, a lot of us just reject it based on the government’s track record”.

South Africa’s political system is highly consultative, as the government has to have public consultations before enacting legislation through public hearings or comments. 

However, South Africans no longer want to consult with the government or, in extreme cases, do not want the government to do anything at all.

“We are fast getting to a stage where the government may end up being paralysed on the basis that they know South Africans will reject its proposals,” Sithole warned. 

This risks government policy announcements becoming mere gimmicks, with South Africans no longer taking it seriously as it has consistently failed to implement policy. 

The government may become ineffective and unable to do anything, and recent events have exemplified the increasing ineffectiveness of the government. 

Political analyst, Khaya Sithole

Government losing control

The burning of trucks on the N3 and parts of Mpumalanga provided the latest example of the lack of effectiveness of the government and its failures to perform basic functions such as protecting citizens and maintaining infrastructure. 

This is the view of Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt, who said that the South African economy would suffer as a result of the truck burnings on the N3. 

The key issue for Roodt is that trucks should not be on the road in such high volumes in the first place, as freight should be transported via railways. 

However, Transnet’s collapse has forced companies to transport freight via more expensive and dangerous trucks.

The truck burnings for Roodt are only one example of the government failing South Africans. 

“We have to do something about the efficiency of the state. The state is failing us here. The railroads are not working. Security is not working in South Africa either.”

Roodt’s concerns echo those of Allianz’s Social Risk Index (SRI) has also identified South Africa as “highly vulnerable to social unrest in the next 18 months”.

PwC’s South Africa Economic Outlook report warned that elevated inflation and interest rates are social risk factors, and social cohesion in South Africa may break down.

The firm has also previously warned of potential social unrest due to South Africa’s high unemployment rate and large social cleavages.

PwC further warned that South Africa’s food supply is threatened, with food insecurity rising in 2023 due to load-shedding, adverse weather, and deteriorating infrastructure.


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