Decay spreads across the country in a matter of years after the authorities fail to deal with the rot of corruption in government institutions and state-owned enterprises.

Public outrage grows as the individuals accused in multimillion rand corruption trials successfully wage “lawfare” with a retinue of fancy, expensive lawyers.

Records have been erased, tracks long covered and the accused have the deepest of pockets, replenished from foreign bank accounts. Trials are endlessly strung out. Few trials run to conclusion and even fewer manage to convict the corrupt.

State-owned enterprises continue to leech the limited funds of the fiscus. The public service wage bill and the budget for social grants continue to swell. South Africa continues to borrow in order to fund these and other pressing needs – and eventually its debt becomes unmanageable.

In 2027, South Africa appeals to the International Monetary Fund for a loan and bows to its stringent conditions for structural adjustment. The country’s financial woes are compounded by a global financial meltdown in 2026.

The ruling party, having survived the 2019 national election, secures an even lower vote in 2024 and voluntarily cedes power to an unstable coalition of parties headed by the main opposition party. This non-mandate of the people ricochets through the halls of power: polls show that most citizens are jaded and disillusioned.

Corruption gnaws its way into provincial education and health departments. International crime syndicates see the easy options for buying corrupt South African cops. Crime escalates and South Africa enters a vortex of low growth, high crime and institutional erosion.

  • Water purification plants frequently break down.
  •  Acid mine drainage projects falter.
  •  Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is further delayed, creating a water crisis in major cities.
  •  More than 100 municipalities are placed under direct provincial control.

A severe drought in 2026 drives large numbers of desperately poor people off the land and into secondary urban areas, creating large informal settlements.
Investment in South Africa’s mining, agribusiness and manufacturing sectors begins to dry up. Investors increasingly prefer the country’s neighbours in the SADC region. As a result:

  •  By 2026/7 unemployment hovers around 30% – more than 10 million are out of work.
  •  Economic growth averages 1.5% while inflation rises. People feel much poorer.
  •  Inequality surpasses the levels of 2010. By the late 2020s, the richest 10% of South Africans own 70% of the country’s wealth.

The response among the mass of South Africans is rage against the rich and powerful (and corrupt) and disengagement from political and developmental processes.

Protest and uprisings become more violent. The line between rich and poor is drawn ever more firmly . . . in razor wire and strands of electrified fencing. The liberal coalition government becomes increasingly controlling. Nobody dares use the phrase “state of emergency” but this is effectively what is imposed.

The wealthy insulate themselves with the best security money can buy, venturing into the wider world with armed guards and in informal convoys. Many middle-class South Africans and skilled professionals simply dump the country. They emigrate to happier places.

Very few individuals – rich, poor or in-between – get involved in programmes to redress social injustices or deal with devastating rates of domestic violence, rape and femicide. Instead they stay glued to their TV soap operas and reality shows – where everyone gets rich!

And then . . . in 2030 South Africa elects 47-year-old President Nomvula Ndlovu (pictured above and played by Pamela Nomvete), the country’s first woman president. Another new dawn. But will it be the real deal or a mirage caused by the burning of trucks in the distance?

For the full Indlulamithi scenarios go to www.sascenarios2030.coza/scenarios