Johannesburg - Former SA President FW de Klerk says he is confident that South Africans will once again prove the pessimists are wrong.
“Worrying about the future is - and always has been - a central aspect of being a South African. Since 1652 visitors to our country have generally concluded that ’it is a lovely place - but cannot possibly last for another five years’. However‚ time and time again‚ experience has proved that the pessimists were wrong‚” he told the Swiss Chamber South Africa in Zurich on Tuesday.
“At the moment‚ South Africa is once again experiencing serious international perception problems. They arise from the news coverage of a number of recent and current developments in the country‚” he added.
In his speech‚ de Klerk said that it was important to retain balance in one’s assessment of the complex SA society.
“In fact‚ South Africa has‚ on the whole‚ done pretty well since 1994‚” he noted.
He said that SA was regarded as an international model for democracy‚ constitutionalism‚ human rights and the rule of law.
SA had experienced 18 years of economic growth‚ only briefly interrupted in 2009. SA produces 30% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product with only 6.5% of its population. The regulation of SA’s stock exchange and accounting standards are the best in the world according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.
“Where we score badly is in those areas of national activity that fall under the responsibility of government. We are in the bottom 20% with regard to the quality of our education system; the business cost of crime and violence; HIV prevalence; and labour market efficiency. What emerges from all this data is a picture of dysfunctional government on the one hand and a fairly sophisticated private banking and commercial sector on the other. The good news‚ as far as I am concerned‚ is that government is increasingly aware of its own shortcomings and is in the process of adopting realistic plans to address them. It is doing so under the guidance of our National Planning Commission - which is led by former finance minister Trevor Manuel‚” he observed.
“South Africa will succeed - provided that we can work together as South Africans to support our Constitution; to demand the rights that it guarantees; and to achieve the vision of human dignity‚ equality and enjoyment of human rights and freedoms that it articulates. So the next time you see negative headlines about South Africa‚ I would invite you all to look a little deeper at the picture and consider the enormous potential that our country offers. I‚ personally‚ am confident that we South Africans will once again prove that the pessimists are wrong‚” he concluded. - I-Net Bridge