South Africa society

Out of the gloom of South Africa’s economy, some green shoots of growth. Although not necessarily the kind everyone is comfortable with.

The country’s gambling industry is going from strength to strength, according to a new report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Gross gambling revenues posted their largest historical increases over the last five years, just as the country’s decade of post-millennial growth slumped. 

It didn’t take long for the ghosts of the violent labour unrest South Africa endured in 2012 to resurface.

The year is not yet two weeks old, but already pictures of police in riot gear dispersing hundreds of striking workers are being beamed across South African television channels. On Wednesday, more than 1,500 farm workers in the fruit growing Western Cape Province downed their tools to demand their minimum salary – a paltry R69 a day – is raised to R150. 

The growth of South Africa’s black middle class has been a dynamic boost for the economy, attracting local and foreign investment, and now the country’s consumer landscape could shift forward as another new emerging consumer segment takes shape in the lower social ranks.

According to Annabel Bishop, chief economist for the Investec Group in South Africa, and author of the report Investec SA’s Macro Economic Outlook 2013-17, people in South Africa’s lower class could progressively rise from being dependent on welfare and earning nothing to having a rise in income, forming a new consumer class. 

By JP Landman

The current narrative on South Africa is one of decline. The mining strikes of the last two and a half months, and the accompanying violence, set off many doomsday predictions. But if we extend our view beyond the headlines of the moment, however, we find a bigger – and different – picture. 

South Africa’s currency has a new look from Tuesday, with banknotes featuring former president Nelson Mandela going into circulation.