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Still on track

06 April 2006 Angelo Coppola

Some blots, but generally a modest path has been plotted and steered by the South African government - The Economist country survey on South Africa.

Richard Cockett Africa editor of The Economist was involved in the most recent country survey- entitled chasing the rainbow. This follows surveys in 1994, 2000.

The Mbeki era is drawing to a close and its time to look back at what Mandela and Mbeki have achieved. Some of these trends included:

In terms of its role on the continent and the world, many politicians have been inwardly focused, and the significant impact its had internationally has been missed, generally. Mbeki was building institutions that could sought out the continents problems and avoid going to the colonial powers.

There are some blots including the handling of Zimbabwe, and when one considers what the other more progressive countries have done, Kenya and Uganda seem to be displaying some of the negative attributes of the past, such as corruption.

South Africa on the other hand has plotted a modest course, and not trumpeted its successes. Cockett maintains that perhaps Mbeki should have made more of a noise of the successes achieved since 1994.

He also maintains that the successes on an internal economic level are focused on a few selected areas, and there is some discontent appearing from the ANC core supporters.

On the other hand the current boom experienced in SA is a function of the government and its policies and not due to the private sector activity, says Adam Habib of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). The fact is that the country suffered during the first five years of the new democracy. Unemployment had doubled for instance, in the early years.

When the government changed its policy says Habib, the country started to prosper.

BEE also came under the spot light and according to Cockett foreign investors are a little concerned about the onerous nature of the BEE process. The issue is that South Africa is just one of the countries that are all competing for foreign direct investment.

He cautioned that South Africa should be careful that not too many hurdles should be point in place. He questioned the BEE process and wondered aloud whether BEE was in fact acting as a start-up for private enterprise development.

Vuyo Jack contends that BEE isnt a hurdle for foreign investors. Foreigners would look to employ the locals. It also appears that international investors are more than willing to get involved.

He also suggests that the bright black minds are starting to get entrepreneurial, although the banks are still a little behind the curve here, when it comes to financing. The finance that has been allocated to help with this sector is completely inadequate, this despite a change in attitude.

Its not all doom and gloom however, and he highlighted the real progress in crime reduction. The outside world perception lags behind the reality locally, and the regeneration of the inner city centre is a story in itself, and a prime example of a working private public sector partnership.

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