Market economics and democracy in South Africa have developed extremely positively in recent years. This is the evaluation of the German Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index, which says South Africa has achieved the number 18 position in an international comparison.
Only development in Mauritius, at position 16 was positioned better than South Africa among African states. In a comparison with other emerging nations, the evaluation of South Africa lies ahead of Brazil (position 20), India (position 25) and Turkey (position 32).
According to this comparison, economic development in South Africa is progressing at a successful rate – and could even be considered a boom, according to the report. Stable growth, a moderate household deficit and a single digit inflation rate characterise these positive macroeconomic developments.
Despite this, a number of deficiencies still exist, in social economic areas in particular.
As a result, 30% to 40% of the overall population are still excluded from the formal economic sector, with the result that talk of “two economies in a single country” is still applicable. This is further complicated by continually high unemployment which is aggravated by the effects of serious inequalities in the benefits available from the social security systems.
However, there is a simultaneous increase in the lack of skilled labour. The government has made enormous efforts to improve the living conditions of large sections of the population, but poverty continues to be a widespread phenomenon.
The political system in South Africa occupies the respectable position of 17 in the international comparison of 125 transformation states. The system of government broadly meets the criteria of a consolidated democracy distinguished by the rule of law in which the dominance of the ANC has failed to exercise a negative impact.
However, the dominant position of the governing party when it comes to the distribution of power is detrimental, particularly in the majority of the provinces and the loss of importance of parliament.
The active and well-organised civilian society acts as a counterweight to this, along with the print media which critically oversees political developments.
In contrast to South Africa itself, development in most states in eastern and southern Africa has stagnated. A few countries had made substantial strides on the road to democracy and a market economy, but the vast majority exhibit little important changes.
The countries which, in addition to South Africa, have progressed furthest in their democratic development are primarily Mauritius and Botswana, with government systems which have achieved very good ratings in comparisons with all the 125 investigated BTI states.
The Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index analyses and evaluates the quality of democracy, market economics and political management in 125 developing and transformation countries.