“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle,
Don’t grumble, give a whistle!
And this’ll help things turn out for the best
And always look on the bright side of life!”
(Monty Python’s Eric Idle)
Lately, all we seem to get is depressing news – potential ratings downgrade, declining employment, corruption scandals and escalating protests.
Despite this good things continue to happen and the trajectory of the nation is, in many ways, upwards.
If you don’t believe it, what about this?
Perhaps the most significant statistic is how is our income per head (GDP is used as a surrogate for this) doing in real terms (i.e. stripping out inflation), as this tells us objectively that people are either better or worse off than previously.
GDP per capita has grown from approximately US$ 9,900 in 1996 to US$ 12,400 in 2015 – an increase of over 25%. Remember the Rand to $ exchange rate has declined from $1 = R4 to $1 = R14 in this period. Thus, average living standards have increased substantially.
Other figures back this up. Living Standards Measures (LSMs) have also shown improvement:
(Source: SA Institute of Race Relations)
In other words, 38.8% of the population in 2001 lived on R1,300 per month whilst only 10% now do. Today 25% earn R20,500 per month versus 16.3% in 2001. 28.8% of the population have moved from low income to medium/high income in a generation. Along with this there have been large increases of people with access to running water, health care, education and electricity. This is quite some going.
Inflation was 9% when the ANC came to power and it is just on 6% today. The budget deficit to GDP was 7.1% in 1993 and today is 3.9%
In 1995 259,000 Black learners matriculated whilst last year just under 370,000 matriculated. In 1994, 20,610 people (27.8% of all graduates) graduated from tertiary institutions with degrees in science, engineering and technology – last year this figure was more than 55,000 (30% of all graduates).
Thus, if we look beyond the noise, things are going quite well. In a generation, the country has made incredible progress. Don’t forget the recent election – we heard plenty of populism and dire predictions, yet people filtered out the noise when they voted.