Social grant recipients queue at a Sassa paypoint. Go to any taxi rank, soccer match or factory floor and see if any underpaid worker is fretting about less than optimal media coverage of GDP figures, says the writer. Picture: Mlondolozi Mbolo
Fervent Facebook "status updater" Shukela Mkhungo had the heebie-jeebies about missing headlines, when "we are at 2.5% growth the rand appreciated to R12.95 from near R15 to the US dollar". Her update was an edited sponsorship of an earlier post by someone named Siyanda.

The two believed that the developments called for more media coverage, along with the R20billion that South Africa would be getting from the New Development Bank (a Brics initiative) and the R5bn agreement with Russia’s Rosgeo to develop oil and gas blocks in South Africa.

It was tempting to rebut their claim by saying that it was thanks to the media that they were even talking about these, but one knows better than to take on Shukela on social media. I left that to those braver than me to fact-check them.

They did, and the timeline petered out after about 65 reactions and 27 comments.

My perennial gripe is our obsession with this number called GDP and its growth rate.

Even as our country emerged from recession, the petrol price soared by 67cents. Taxi bosses immediately cautioned that they would be increasing their fares.

Who cares for GDP, when the rand is not keen to stretch enough to cover the basics and unemployment is at 26.6% as companies retrench incessantly?

GDP, or gross domestic product, "measures the value of all final goods and services produced in an economy in a given period of time", according to www.dummies.com.

This includes those cars manufactured in Rosslyn, Waltloo, Uitenhage, East London - which most South Africans can ill afford. It also covers the mining and agricultural commodities that we export without beneficiation, thus handing over the true value of our natural resources to countries that are smart enough to cling to their high-paying skills of jewellery making and confectioneries built on Africa’s cocoa produce.

Yes, but our GDP growth is up!

Go to any taxi rank, soccer match, factory floor, even farms and see if any underpaid worker is fretting about less than optimal media coverage of GDP figures.

By simply eavesdropping at funerals and weddings, one can discern that South Africans are not naive about GDP matters. What galls them more is the unequal sharing of its benefits; of the very goods and services they sacrifice and toil to produce.

Security guards watching over our palatial estates and upmarket townhouses, while we earn a living, do not stress about recession. They live it daily in their receding dignity, not deteriorating GDP, while politicians gloat over inconsequential indicators.

They certainly do not lay awake for an update on the ownership structure of the PetroSA-Rosgeo deal; or that uncanny hitman who tried to hit a target with 21 bullets, and missed each time.

They worry whether they will have a job or better working conditions to support their families.

While we are tossing eggs at each other about legless headlines, let us ask our domestic workers for an opinion.

They might be palpitating over that small island nation with a population the size of Meadowlands and Dobsonville, coached by an air-traffic controller, that trounced Bafana Bafana 2-1 twice in five days. These numbers, they remember.

Therefore, excuse them if they do not rise in mutiny against the media for eschewing what we consider newsworthy. Their access to media and plenty other life-changing information could have been better by now, anyway; but we missed our digital migration deadline in June 2015.

South Africa was not alone in snapping out of recession this week. Nigeria, another large economy in Africa, was there too.

Equally sad for Nigeria, and probably why Nigerians were not jumping for joy at the news either, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission published a list of more than 100 powerful Nigerians under investigation for grand-scale corruption. The list includes former ministers, governors and the ex-first lady.

Let us talk GDP growth, but most would prefer their improving quality of life index; which is much harder to calculate, but more desirable and more urgent.

* Kgomoeswana is the author of Africa is Open for Business, a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs and a weekly columnist for African Independent - Twitter Handle: @VictorAfrica

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent