New book analyses SA’s turbulent future to 2034


Pretoria, South Africa – The winners of an ideological contest between two rival African National Congress (ANC) factions will determine South Africa’s future, according to a new book by Institute for Security Studies (ISS) founder and chair of the ISS Board of Trustees, Jakkie Cilliers.

Fate of the Nation models three scenarios for SA’s future as the country approaches a decisive political turning point. The book was launched at the ISS in Pretoria on Tuesday 1 August. Cilliers says choices made at the ANC’s December 2017 National Conference will impact the 2019 national and provincial elections and shape SA for the next decade.

Fate of the Nation uses the International Futures forecasting system and data from local and international sources to explore SA’s future. An updated population forecast suggests the country’s population will increase to 64,5 million by 2034, significantly higher than previous estimates for the National Development Plan. Each of the scenarios is presented in terms of their economic and political impact as well as the likely impact on energy (nuclear or not), fracking, crime and violence, employment, inequality and SA’s international reputation.

A final chapter, ‘Towards meaningful radical economic transformation’, sets out a comprehensive policy framework for a prosperous future.

Fate of the Nation includes likely national election outcomes for each of the three major political parties – the ANC, Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – for the 2019, 2024 and 2029 elections, as well as projections about the size of the economy and future income levels.

In the most likely scenario, called ‘Bafana Bafana’ after SA’s under-performing national soccer team, a compromise slate of ANC traditionalists and reformers leads the party into the 2019 elections, which sees its electoral support dipping to 53%, with improved prospects for the DA and EFF. SA experiences average annual growth of 2.3% to 2034 and the economy is by then almost 50% larger than 2016.

In the worst-case scenario, ‘a nation divided’, the traditionalist faction seizes control of the ANC, the party splits in 2018, and it requires a coalition to govern after 2019. SA still grows, but much more slowly. Factional politics and policy zigzagging open the door to greater populism. Voters eventually punish the ANC and its EFF alliance partner at the polls, and it takes time for SA to recover from populist policies. SA’s considerable potential sees the economy grow even under this low road scenario, averaging 1.5% to 2034, but the economy is by then only around 30% larger than today. An opposition alliance could govern SA from as early as 2024, Cilliers says.

The most optimistic scenario, ‘Mandela magic’, sees the ANC reformist faction prevailing, with SA pursuing a clear economic and developmental vision. SA decides against new nuclear energy as it embarks upon gas imports and shale gas fracking in the Karoo. It takes years to recover from the disaster of the Zuma years but the economy grows at an average of 3.3% to 2034. The tripartite alliance eventually collapses but a reinvigorated ANC is able to retain its electoral majority to 2029, based on pro-employment policies that facilitate stability and allows for sustained economic growth. The larger economy under ‘Mandela magic’ allows government to collect R4 175 billion more tax in the period to 2034 from an economy that, is then more than 80% larger than in 2016.

Cilliers believes that a full downgrade to junk status in 2017 will be difficult to avoid and it is included under all scenarios. In the best case, SA regains its international investment grade in 2020 but only in 2029 under the worst case. Yet in all scenarios, growth remains well below the 5.4% target in the National Development Plan.

Fate of the Nation is published by Jonathan Ball and is available in bookshops and online.

Interview requests:

Anu Klaassens, ISS: +27 76 795 0373; [email protected]

To request review copies:

Andrea Marchesi, Jonathan Ball Publishers: +27 21 469 8900; [email protected]

Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/GroundUp

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