The Indlulamithi scenarios, launched in Johannesburg last week, were welcomed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a reminder that “the future is a choice, not an inevitable fate and we can all influence many choices that push our country in one direction or another”.

The President was part of an audience of 250+ who watched three depictions of South Africa in the year 2030 brought vividly to life by a group of actors and dancers. The scenarios contrasted sharply in many ways – particularly the degree of social cohesion present in these societies of the future.

Named after three popular dances, the scenarios are:

  • Isbhujwa – an enclave bourgeois nation, which is deeply unequal and divided but where self-interested enterprise keeps things ticking over.
  •  Nayi le Walk – a nation in step with itself, which offers opportunity to many though it still struggles with the fallout of persistent inequality.
  •  Gwara Gwara – a floundering false dawn, which leaves a people demoralised, living in disorder and decay without a glimmer of cohesive spirit.

“There is unique value in an exercise like Indlulamithi, which presents the big picture – the complex interplay of economic, political, social and cultural developments – and gazes into the future,” President Ramaphosa remarked. “Too often, far-reaching policies are developed with a narrow, somewhat restricted view of reality and without proper consideration of the wider impact measures might have.”

Indlulamithi project coordinator Dr Somadoda Fikeni highlighted the relevance of the scenarios at this moment in South Africa’s democratic journey.
“All sectors of society – including government, political parties and the electorate – will have to make critical decisions in the coming months,” he said. “Through the storylines contained in the scenarios we can illustrate the possible consequences of the choices they make and hopefully convince them to make well-considered, far-sighted choices.”
Dr Yacoob Abba Omar of the Indlulamithi Steering Committee suggested how the scenarios could be
put to practical use.

“How can we make sure we get out of the iSbhujwa scenario? What can we do to avoid the Gwara
Gwara scenario? And how can we achieve even more than the Nayi le Walk scenario?” he asked and
went on to propose relevant actions.

  • Government, at all levels, should test its strategic frameworks against the scenarios.
  • Elected representatives, from members of Parliament down to local councillors, should apply the scenarios yardstick to their decisions.
  •  Similarly the corporate sector, trade union movement and civil society should reflect on whether their actions encouraged iSbhujwa nation, a Gwara Gwara society or helped secure the Nayi le Walk option.

Dr Abba Omar indicated that the ultimate ambition of the Indlulamithi project was to pave the way
for the country’s leadership to develop a shared national vision and conclude a compact for the
future.

The forging of a social compact might seem overly ambitious to some, President Ramaphosa
observed, and added: “That should not deter us. Were it not for the ambition of those who pursued
the struggle for freedom, we would not today be living in a democracy defined by a progressive
constitution and bill of rights.”