Good times roll for SA

People’s optimism soars as economy powers ahead in longest boom since war


BOOM times are here and more South Africans are positive about the future than ever before, a ground-breaking survey has revealed.

For the first time since 2000, more than half of adults surveyed said they saw a rosy future for themselves and their children in South Africa.

Some 56% of the 3500 people surveyed by Markinor said they believed that moral, educational and economic standards were improving. Only 12% felt that standards were dropping.

The survey results were released amid a slew of good news for the economy as the country experiences its longest sustained economic growth since World War

2. Optimism has risen among all population groups since 1999, with Africans the most optimistic.

The survey also revealed that two-thirds of adult South Africans believed the future held promise for children in this country.

Again, this is the first time since July 2000 that more than half of adults have expressed this opinion.

This outlook, too, has improved among all races, with Africans topping the list at 74%, followed by coloureds at 60% and Indians at 55%.

By comparison, only 32% of whites feel the prospects for their children are good, although the figure has risen from 21% five years ago.

Michael Gordon, project manager for the survey, called “Children and the Future”, said the outcome showed that a positive feeling had gripped the country.

He attributed this to political stability, the celebration of 10 years of democracy and a buoyant economy.

“People feel that if it is going like this now, then the future must look bright for their children,” he said.

Commenting on the perception that education and the economy had improved, Anneke Greyling, an associate director and political analyst at Markinor, said higher government spending on education and the increased provision of basic services to the poor had buoyed optimism.

The South African economy has never had it so good, with inflation at just 3.7% and the economy growing by close to 4%.

Interest rates — already low by South African standards — are widely expected to be cut again next month.

• Economic research by Absa predicts low inflation and high growth through to 2007 and 2008.

The bank’s home price index revealed that “middle-class” house values had increased by 19% nationally as part of a property boom not seen since 1983 — and are set to rise higher still.

Economist Mike Schussler said this week: “The evidence is overwhelming that the South African economy is growing at a faster rate than most realise ... It may already be growing at 5% or 6% a year. Stats SA is just not picking it up.

“We are now in the longest period of GDP [gross domestic product] growth since World War 2.”

Article by: BRETT HORNER - www.sundaytimes.co.za