Economics, governance and instability in South Africa

ISS' latest futures research shows poverty, unemployment and inequality continue to drive social turbulence in SA.

This paper examines the economic and social underpinnings of rising political instability in South Africa such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.

The paper then reviews the patterns of violence across different categories before concluding with a brief analysis of the extent to which corruption, poor governance and lacklustre leadership exacerbate social turbulence.

In this way, it presents the context for a separate paper, South African scenarios 2024, and a subsequent set of policy recommendations Rainbow at risk that set out the prospects and requirements for change.

About the authors

Dr Jakkie Cilliers is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and head of African Futures and Innovation at the Pretoria office of the ISS.

Ciara Aucoin is a researcher in the African Futures and Innovation programme at the ISS in Pretoria.

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Development partners
This paper was made possible with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The ISS is also grateful for support from the following members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
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