President Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, has lashed out at the Economist magazine’s characterisation of South Africa as “sliding down hill”, and dismissed suggestions that the country is becoming a “de-facto one party state”.
“The assertions in the article published by the UK magazine The Economist…cannot go unchallenged as they are so misleading,” said Maharaj, in a media statement.
The Economist article, published on October 20, claimed that South Africa was “on the slide”, and cited predictions that Nigeria could overtake South Africa as Africa’s largest economy in a few years. The article cited slow GDP growth, poor education and a high unemployment as causes for concern.
“In direct contrast to The Economist article, a strong vote of confidence was given in the last week by the international business community with the country’s inclusion in Citigroup’s World Government Bond Index…Our success is also visible when benchmarking the country against other emerging market economies such as the BRICs and Next 11 countries,” said Maharaj.
The Economist also levelled criticism at the leadership of the ANC. The article criticised the party’s “incompetence and outright corruption”, accusing former president Thabo Mbeki of “race-tinted prickliness”, and stating that Zuma has “drifted and dithered, offering neither vision nor firm government”.
Maharaj said “We have noted the tendency of late to exaggerate the debates and contestation within the ruling party, the African National Congress, as being a symptom of instability. ANC conferences are no more controversial than political dynamics in many other countries…The democratic exercise should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness for the country.”
Maharaj also drew attention to the resilience of South Africa’s banking sector, and the attractiveness of its infrastructure.