South Africa

Cyril Ramaphosa’s big economic growth lie 

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claim that the South African economy has more than tripled under ANC rule gives the false impression of a strong economy. When inflation is stripped out, the economy has not even doubled since 1994. 

This is feedback from KPMG economist Frank Blackmore, who told eNCA that Ramaphosa conveniently used South Africa’s nominal GDP figures, which are boosted by inflation. 

Ramaphosa claimed in his State of the Nation Address in February that South Africa’s economy has tripled under ANC rule from 1994 until the present day. 

He has since repeated this claim in various campaign speeches and his Freedom Day address

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.

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

The President has trumpeted the doubling of employed South Africans from 8 million to 16.7 million.

However, he neglected to mention that the rise in employment is slower than the growth of the country’s workforce, resulting in elevated unemployment. 

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

However, Blackmore said this claimed figure is disingenuous as it does not strip out the effect of South Africa’s inflation over the period, which boosts the country’s nominal GDP but does not result in a larger economy. 

Rather than an increase in the amount of goods and services produced in South Africa, most of the country’s economic growth has been driven by the rise in the prices of the same amount of goods and services. 

Blackmore said the data shows that the South African economy has not even doubled in size from 1994 if you strip out the boost from inflation. 

In 1994, the country’s GDP was around R2.4 trillion and has since expanded, in real terms, to around R4.6 trillion. 

The country’s economic growth rate was a meagre 2% over the past thirty years, while in nominal terms, with inflation’s effects included, it grew around 4% per annum. 

This shows that most of the growth mentioned by President Ramaphosa was inflation-driven and not from an expansion in economic activity. 

The real GDP growth of South Africa is shown in the graph below.

South Africa’s poor economic growth

Another 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, have significantly outperformed South Africa since the ANC took power.

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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