South Africa is heading towards the Gwara Gwara scenario, this is according to the new Indlulamithi Barometer that was launched on 21 June 2019 by the Indlulamithi South African Scenarios 2030 Project.

The Indlulamithi Barometer is a new research tool which measures the extent in which the Indlulamithi scenarios are materialising over time.

Using two components to collect data, the Barometer compiles important and emotive events of the year into an audio-visual format through the ‘story telling’ component, and it compiles information on 52 carefully identified indicators into a set of data visualisations and brief written description through the ‘data-driven’ component.

These datasets are then prioritised and augmented to track South Africa’s trajectory against the Indlulamithi scenarios on an annual basis.

Here’s what the barometer had to say:

The aggregate 2019 Indlulamithi Barometer results shows that South Africa is being ‘pulled’ between the Gwara Gwara and iSbhujwa scenarios, with a trend towards Gwara Gwara.

The Gwara Gwara scenario, where social inequality is at its highest, embodies a demoralised land of disorder and decay, most characterised by a steep decline in trust and belief among fellow South Africans, the state and social institutions.

The barometer attributes this trend to a weakened Institutional Capacity and Leadership that has reared its head through the revelations of the State Capture commissions, divisions within all major political parties, electricity outages and water crises in municipalities. These also led to heightened levels of distrust in government, with many young people gravitating to other political formations, or withdrawing from formal politics entirely. As a matter of fact, the 2019 South African elections saw the lowest rate of youth participation in its democratic era.

To add salt to the wound, VAT increase, high petrol prices, stubborn unemployment rates and intensified protests collectively had a negative knock on levels of social cohesion and equality.

When viewed according to the three key driving forces, the Barometer shows that the iSbhujwa Scenario is dominant when considering Resistance, Resentment, Reconciliation and Institutional Capacity & Leadership dimensions, but that Gwara Gwara is dominant overall because it is so strong in the Social Inequality dimension.

On a lighter note, the barometer also highlights a few positive events that has led the country not to trend 100% towards the Gwara Gwara scenario- these include the efforts by the government in looking at land redistribution and restitution policies, progressive gender equality efforts and national unity towards supporting our athletes.

However, these positives are just tiny drops in an ocean and the most staggering findings make one thing abundantly clear: If South Africa cannot greatly improve its performance in terms of social inequality and basic underlying welfare for most SA citizens, a trajectory out of this worst-case scenario will not be possible.

What does the economy under Gwara Gwara look like?
In addition to the barometer, Indlulamithi unveiled interesting insights on South Africa’s economic outlook for 2030 by applying ADRS’s Dynamically Integrated Macro-Micro Simulation Model of South Africa (DIMMSIMTM) to each scenario.

In the Gwara Gwara scenario, South Africa’s average economic growth is projected to drop to below two percent, while inflation rises. Unemployment is likely to hover around 26 percent, restricting the growth of demand in the economy and, with it, the growth of output. Investment in South Africa’s mining, agribusiness and manufacturing sectors is projected to dry up, with creditors doubting South Africa’s ability to recover from a probable 2026 financial meltdown.

The slow rate of per capital income growth and the worsening of inequality under the Gwara Gwara scenario significantly reduce the share of the poor from the economic pie. Approximately one third of the population is projected to remain in poverty, with South Africans feeling poorer and poorer every
year. The ADRS has termed the economic path under the iGwara Gwara, the Immiserising growth path, where the poor became worse off as they receive little or no benefits from this path.

While this paints a grim picture, it’s important to remember that Gwara Gwara remains only a scenario. Tools like ADRS’s economic modelling and the Indlulamithi barometer are instrumental for signalling early warning signs and opportunities on the road to 2030. With these projections, we can encourage more productive dialogues and inform policies that help to avoid the undesirable elements of any given scenario.

Every year, Indlulamithi Barometer will be updated, and results published on ‘Indlulamithi Day’ – 21 June – until 2030 to track South Africa’s social cohesion trajectory.