From political upheaval, to plunging exchange rates, to the effects of international recessions, South Africa has seen many ups and downs over the years.
By Simon Campbell-Young
It seems like every time the country hits a new low, or a new high, something happens to swing sentiment back in the other direction. Despite this, we still have one of the most robust business environments on the continent, and those with a will to succeed somehow manage to – against all odds.
Right now, there are many questions we need to ask ourselves in order to succeed in South Africa’s unique climate.
Is the current economic situation effecting our industry? Are people now finally gatvol? Are people of all races starting to look at greener pastures for their kids? Why are a large portion of the populace buying property overseas, and securing EU passports? Why is the “back-door departure” option such a hot topic? Where has great, inspirational and motivational leadership gone?
We know people are now exhausted with corruption and inefficiency at a government and parastatal level, so why is the government focusing on the land expropriation issue? Is land expropriation just an easier way for the government to get hold of mineral-rich land for free? Most farms are bonded by the Land Bank to the tune of approximately R30-billion – who will pick up this debt when farmers vacate, default or hand over farms? Is land re-distribution just a new barometer for bottled frustrations?
Is this why crime is still booming? Will ordinary citizens start forming their own militias, especially in the farming communities? Why is unemployment still at epidemic levels?
I have spent my entire business career managing the rand’s ebb and flow. Is there stability in sight, or will the costing adjustment spreadsheet always be on my desktop? Is there better opportunity for growth and greener pastures in the territories north of our borders? Why is Kenya booming, and why are we going backwards?
Why is South Africa not offering tax incentives for international companies to invest locally? Why is there no free WiFi in all the major metropoles, to encourage entrepreneurism? Why haven’t FAANG/Microsoft, Dell, Oracle or any of the other big tech companies not sponsored this initiative? Surely we have contributed magnificently to their bottom lines over the last 5/10/20/30 years, to warrant this paltry sum for local investment?
And the questions aren’t limited to the social and economic factors. When is our soccer team going to perform? It’s the wealthiest league in Africa. For the Springboks, I have no words, except an eternal and desperate belief in the great comeback.
There are so many questions, and no easy answers. Yet, somehow, we will continue to navigate the minefield of doing business in this environment, and hope that we will, once again, swing in a positive direction. The only definitive answer any South African has at the moment is that, South Africa, we love you dearly, through thick and thin.