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Jacket Notes: Jakkie Cilliers discusses the three scenarios for South Africa’s future, as featured in his Fate of the Nation

Published in the Sunday Times

Fate of the Nation
Fate of the Nation

Jakkie Cilliers
Jonathan Ball Publishers, R240

I’m not the first writer to try and anticipate the future of South Africa. But where Fate of the Nation differs is in its dependence on data and modelling using a comprehensive forecasting tool called International Futures.

I began to work on forecasting while I was a Fulbright scholar at the Frederick S Pardee eCenter for International Futures at the University of Denver. I used their forecasting system to model the scenarios in Fate of the Nation.

The book is based on a number of papers I have written since 2013. It includes forecasts relating to economic performance, governance and violence/crime with a time horizon to 2034. There is nothing we can do about the past. But we can change the future.

For the ANC to go into the 2019 elections with Zuma at the helm would be disastrous.

In my high-road scenario, Mandela Magic, a reformist coalition triumphs at the December elective conference, modernising the party and putting South Africa on a path to a prosperous future. Mandela Magic is the optimistic story of a country pursuing a clear economic and developmental vision, with a reinvigorated ANC retaining its majority at least until 2029. This does, however, imply the end of the tripartite alliance and a party that embraces growth-orientated policies. But I am no longer sure the ANC is capable of reform.

My most likely scenario, Bafana Bafana, is named after South Africa’s mediocre national soccer team, a perennial underachiever. In this scenario, a mix of ANC traditionalists and reformers are elected in December (or the divisions result in a compromise candidate), an outcome that might keep the party together, but South Africa will merely muddle along.

The worst case sees the ANC split following the election of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in December. The result will inevitably be a full foreign investment downgrade, a split in the ANC early next year and the party losing Gauteng to a DA-led coalition in 2019.

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