Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

Pondering on the ‘new’ daily lived realities in this country, one cannot help but wonder what the future holds, both in the short-medium term and the long run. I note, sadly, that the nation is becoming radicalised and militarised, prospects that are not good for the economy.

The short, medium term

We are now accustomed to checking breaking news first thing in the morning to find out what has been burnt, who has been shot or whether it is safe to even get out of your house go to work or continue with daily life as we know it. We have normalised chaos; chaos theory states that the current world as we know it was once chaotic. A chaotic system is a deterministic system that was once difficult to predict. We learn from chaos theory that uncertainty and predictability will always be a constant in life. The economy has also embraced this uncertainty and the sub-optimal economic output is guaranteed. This year alone, we have had three unofficial holidays, and we complied with that as a population because we have embraced fear. In the process, we have lost 72 hours of production, which looks minute in the big scheme of things.

However, not just lost 72 hours, but six million men hours assuming we have a working population of 250 000 and a typical eight-hour working day. The figure could as easily top 18 million men hours if we assume a 24-hour productive day, what with automation and all that. According to The World Bank, Eswatini has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$3.962 billion, assuming a typical 365-day year, and naively assuming that equal amounts of output are produced each day, we have effectively lost US$10.8 million worth of output over the three days.

This excludes losses due to temporary disruptions to productive schedules due to impromptu violence resulting in certain town closures or streets during protest actions. In the short to medium term, if we do not resolve our differences, we shall contend with rising unemployment, a dwindling economic base due to capital flight and negative growth in real GDP. We will survive this and we should start seeing marked increases in levels of informal sector participating, which will breed more strife in the long run.

The long run

Trying to predict the long-run, given the current state of chaos, is a challenge; academically speaking, the system is too dynamic and too volatile, but I will try and give a normative analysis of what I think will unfold and how it will turn out. We are currently seeing two divergent views within the pro-democracy movement, changing the system from within, that is participate in the 2023 elections and the other calling for a boycott of the elections. In my view and prognosis, before the emergence of the tackle change from within movement, 2023 was going to be the pinnacle of our political history as a country. I had contended that we were heading for a complete shutdown of the country and a lot of strife, however, with the emergence of cracks within the pro-democracy movement, I no longer see that unfolding. We will go to the polls and we will vote in a new government, and it will be life as usual. We will have those intermittent disruptions to daily life but we will survive because we are human and we are born with an inert will to survive.

The short-medium term situation highlighted above shall persist and remain sustained until more people cannot afford the basics of life; the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. The country will begin to attract unethical businesses as ethical capital fears chaos and flies from chaos. We shall continue seeing the culture of a government that loans itself to peril, just to stay relevant. We are all accustomed to the cash flow problem within government, in essence without the loans government would at some point not be able to function. Government will struggle to mount turnaround strategies because it will be too busy focusing on the political problem with no focus on turning the economy around, resulting in government failure and a Sri Lanka style change of power, in the next 15 – 20 years if nothing changes. All this will be happening alongside the rise of the military State we are currently seeing and the rise of extremism in the country, we shall continue seeing the attacks on property and they will get refined, perfected and more lethal. This extremism we will not be able to arrest no matter the political outcome, it shall forever remain with us. The economy will suffer immensely and growth will elude us.

A negotiated prosperous future

A dialogue now and effecting the right changes within the political realm can help us avert the above stated short-run, medium-term and long-run scenarios. The public finance machinery is under a lot of strain and we cannot afford these protracted uncertainty. We will crush and burn if we do not talk to each other and solve our problems.

Comments (0 posted):

Post your comment comment

Please enter the code you see in the image: