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Covid-19: Courage, vision, innovation and discipline vital to SA’s survival

Socio-economic inequalities have shed light on how we can all experience the same storm, just on different boats. Picture: Filed.

Socio-economic inequalities have shed light on how we can all experience the same storm, just on different boats. Picture: Filed.

Published Jul 17, 2021


Cape Town - It was early 2020 when stores were gated up, streets were deserted and people hoped for the best after the pandemic, but fast-forward to this year and looting and senseless killings have become the reality that continues to dim the prospects of a brighter future.

While socio-economic differences have shed light on how we can all experience the same storm, just on different boats, the question remains the same: When will the Covid-19 storm be over?

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Chief economist at Stellenbosch University's Bureau for Economic Research, Hugo Pienaar, said that there are various issues holding back the recovery of the gross domestic product (GDP).

“Currently it’s the wide-ranging disruption to economic activity brought about by the riots and looting in KZN, as well as some other parts of the country. The other major concern is that we know Covid-19 comes in waves of infection. We are in the third wave and there will be more. This is why it is so critical to continue to ramp up the vaccination drive. On a positive note, sustained high prices for South Africa’s export commodities is supporting the economy, but this is likely to be a temporary windfall.

“Extraordinary policy support in advanced economies, including ultra-low policy interest rates, aggressive central bank bond-buying programmes and massive fiscal transfers to US households continue to provide powerful support to the global GDP recovery.

“Increased rates of vaccinations in many countries are also positive. But the strong overall global growth performance masks notable divergence between countries. Growth in areas where vaccination roll-out have faced delays and/or where there is less monetary and fiscal policy space to support the recovery have seen weaker growth outcomes.

“The pandemic will worsen global inequality. This is on many levels, not just income, but also, for example, related to access to technology and quality schooling. A focus on broadening access to quality education is crucial to try to make a dent in global inequality. Because the benefits of this will take time, in the meantime we need to support and encourage growth in the sectors of the economy that have the most potential to absorb low-skilled labour into formal employment,” said Pienaar.

Director at Stellenbosch University’s Institute for Futures Research, Dr Morne Mostert, said that when looking at life post-Covid-19, there are three essential criteria that will contribute to our chances of survival.

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“Our aim should be to be courageous rather than anything. We should have more ambitious goals than merely trying to stay alive beyond the crisis. In order to do so, one should have a vision, a sense of cohesion and innovation.

“Having a vision requires a longer-term perspective towards the future that we want. Short-termism and opportunistic political and financial scavenging have cost South Africa dearly over the years. Cohesion is essential for a bold vision to be shared because it helps unite communities against the common enemy, lawlessness.

“Innovation, on the other hand, is a prerequisite for a creative, bold, shared vision. However, if we continue to put our heads in the sand, the consequences of the current trajectory on which the country is heading will lead us to our demise.

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“Therefore a significant course correction is needed, with a renewed focus on the green, circular economy and social well-being. That is the only way out. Even though we cannot tweak the current system to get to the future we aspire to, we can start thinking differently in order change the outcome of our current actions,” said Mostert.

Schools are yet to return to normal and as teachers prepare to return to the classroom, Grade 1 teacher Nosiphiwo Ntlemeza is concerned about children being exposed, given the present circumstances that endanger our economy.

“The division in our country is out of control and I feel like, as a mother and a primary school teacher, the current immoral behaviour and mentality of our nation will have a negative impact on the future of our kids and the generations to come.

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“For example, what does a 5-year-old know about racism or undermining other races? By protesting and destroying resources and looting, what are we teaching the children? We as adults/parents must be careful of the seeds we sow in the minds of the young children because what we show our kids today is what they will learn and adapt to tomorrow.

“Discipline begins at home and I am sure if we all abide by and follow protocols, chances of survival might be better. I strongly advise parents to consider teaching their kids that the current situation is completely wrong and not bringing any growth to the country,” said Ntlemeza.

Weekend Argus

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