South Africa: Our place in the global economy

As an ever positive optimist and a very proud South African I guess even I can forgive people for being negative about our country these days.  I mean lets face the facts: every day people are being employed in positions they are not qualified for, costing companies(and the country) millions.

Our cabinet is being reshuffled what seems to be monthly,  fire-pools and fancy blue lights over the freeways have become the headlines in our newspapers. There is no stopping the rhino poachers, the rand’s reaching records of its own, corruption is at an all time high and now even our beloved Springboks seem to be joining our cricket and soccer teams in a terrible sporting year.


South Africa’s future is very, very dark…. or is it?


Remember the days you were in school and performed badly in a test and scored a mediocre 55%.  You were already thinking about the punishment your parents are going to give you.  But then you find out that the class average was a dismal 45%.  Your whole mindset chanced and now you couldn’t wait to boast about the same marks.


Is this not where South Africa find itself?

Today I attended Investec’s “Taking stock” seminar where Jeremy Gardinar -Director of Investec Asset Management enlighten us on his take of the macro economy and where SA finds itself.   The man truly is a fantastic public speaker, his humorous slides and witty comments always attracts big crowds.  But his content today really packed a punch and I hereby gladly share some of his thoughts.


It’s estimated that almost 3 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa.   So despite a couple of xenophobic attacks on foreign shop owners, SA has already dealt with the big immigration problem that stares Europe in the face.

SA’s Debt to GDP ratio is at a low 46% compared to the European countries: Greece at 180%, Portugal at 118% and Netherlands at 80%.   All emerging markets are also going through turbulent times with money leaving the countries at a fast rate.  Things will turn around, China will get their act together, start growing their economy again and emerging markets will benefit from this.


The cost of living in SA is very low compared to the rest of the world.  For the same price you have to pay for a 86 square meter flat in London, you can buy 3, 6 sleeping room homes on the coast.  In Europe if your lucky a coffee at Starbucks will cost you R60 (and they WILL misspell your name) whilst here at home you can get  bottomless, single origin ground coffee at M&B for less than R30.


No where will you be able to experience the wide, tranquil spaces we have here. Golf is seen as a luxury, reserved only for the super rich in most other countries, here a round is cheaper than a haircut – Yes ladies that’s true.


99% of us will agree that we need new leadership in our country.  Both Ramaphosa and Dlamini Zuma, who is seen as the front runners to become the next president, will be a vast improvement on Mr Zuma.

In America there is nervous tension in the air as they have to say goodbye to Mr Obama, (who has done very well) and possibly welcome  one of two controversial characters in Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.   Not to even mention Putin or the Brazilian government.


Our people, oh you have to admire our people and their humor.  Let’s think of our very own Trevor Noah, he brings the nation together with humor, no matter what race or gender,  people love him even though his jokes are in spite of you.  And if you have not seen the new Cell C advert, do yourself a favor …  this sums it all up.


We can go on and on and on….. And yes you can go ahead and make a list of the negatives, but, like in any situation it’s what you make of it.  South Africa is a country full of opportunity and potential, so have fun, go on holiday, visit your family members in Aus and appreciate it all when you return….  We may not be top of our class or passing with distinction, but were far from getting expelled or receiving an F   (as someone once did)

Geo Botha  CFP

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