SA must wash its hands of another 10 wasted years


SA must wash its hands of another 10 wasted years

The country doesn’t have unlimited time to undo its bad policies

James Butler, a Cape Town neurologist, argues — in the tradition of psychologist Daniel Kahneman, a co-recipient of the Nobel prize for economics — that the human brain is remarkably prone to bias and pessimistic herd thinking. When amplified by the pervasive negativity of mainstream and social media, this has resulted in many believing SA’s problems are insurmountable and that it’s doomed to becoming Africa’s next basket case, another Zimbabwe.

Butler warned, in a recent opinion piece in the Daily Maverick, that this flawed thinking, which is based on factual inaccuracies, biases and fear, must be resisted or it will fuel SA’s skills and capital exodus and become self-fulfilling. He concedes that SA’s problems are substantial, including poverty, Eskom, corruption, unemployment and debt, but argues that other countries have solved similar problems. Just look at how SA got a handle on its HIV epidemic.

In short, his message is that SA should avoid extrapolating from its fearful mood that the future will look as bad as today. Rather, it should take heart from historical trends, which suggest that SA is more likely to revert to the developing-country mean over time than remain an outlier like Zimbabwe...

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