South Africa is winning the war on want in some areas, but failing badly in terms of child and maternal health and in the abolition of poverty, a new government report shows.
The annual South African Development Indicators report was posted on a government website yesterday. It uses data from a variety of sources to assess whether the country has moved backwards or forwards on a host of indicators ranging from the economy, health and education to ssocial cohesion and democratic involvement.
“In many spheres there are improvements generally,” Trevor Manuel, the minister of national planning, said in an introduction.
“In some cases though the improvements are not as much as we would have liked (and) others show a negative trend,” he said.
Manuel singled out child mortality – currently 44.7 deaths per 1000 live births – and the growing number of women who die in childbirth.
He said the global economic crisis, which had pulled economic growth down from a high of 5.6% in 2006 had caused some of the disappointing results.
“It will take some time before employment, growth and investment rises to pre-crises levels especially as global economy remains weak and fraught with risk,” he said.
The 84-page report focuses on the living conditions and attitudes and shows some recovery from troughs associated with the recession.
But while the poor have been assisted by grants, the report concedes: “The severity of poverty has not been dented. This could signal that the poverty reduction policies and the social security net is failing the poorest.”
“Fewer people are feeling South Africa is heading in the right direction, even the hype of the FIFA world cup was not able to bring back people’s optimism to the height of 1994,” the report says.
Noting that the number of people of voting age who turn out for elections had fallen from 86% in 1994 to a low of 58% in 2004 and 66% last year, the report says “creeping apathy” could signal a lack of real choices or just growing political maturity.
Citing police figures, the report says crime is on the declined, but adds: “However the fact that almost a quarter of all South African adults
in all three polling periods have experienced some crime is not acceptable.”
Sanlam chief economist Jac Laubscher puts the New Growth Path framework released by President Jacob Zuma’s government a week ago alongside the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa, AsgiSA, and finds its mostly been around a while.
If Thabo Mbeki’s government could not crack the constraints, what’s different now?
Ebrahim Patel, the minister of economic development, says the difference is a new team in the Union Buildings and a more dire global and local economic situation.
Here is Laubscher’s analysis: