Jacques Moolman, president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry
The unsettling truth lurking beneath the Rugby World Cup euphoria is that our biggest test is still to come – and it’s against ourselves not the All Blacks.
Our recent sporting success is so remarkable largely because it happened amidst a backdrop of public service failure. On the field, the Springboks triumphed by one point, three weeks in a row, but on the streets ordinary South Africans have been hanging on by a thread for years.
A cursory glance at the latest headlines is enough to confirm that, once the rugby confetti has been cleared away, our country is still tottering close to the economic dead ball line. Our budget deficit soared to R14.6 billion in September from R3.3 billion a year ago. Our social wage – the cost of dishing out grants to support the most vulnerable – now consumes 20% of GDP, up from 13% a decade ago.
And our 34% unemployment rate continues to haunt us, with over half the population now stranded below the national upper poverty line, and about a quarter experiencing food poverty.
Unfortunately there is no fly-half who can rescue us from these stats with a long range penalty kick.
However if the Springboks taught us anything it is the power of team effort, and therein lies our salvation. With a national election coming up, South Africans have the power to control their destiny at the polling station. In the same way that goal line pressure wins matches, public pressure is needed to steer our country in the direction we want it to go – economic growth and prosperity. The more active citizens making their voices heard the better our chances of getting the civil servants who can get the job done. Only by holding our government to account will we get the result we deserve – a winning nation.
Democratic elections are a crucial instrument of change and a rare opportunity for citizens to take charge of the national game plan. History has shown us that if we pick the right team and play to our strengths, the ball tends to bounce our way.