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Cellphone or R22m flag: what will define social compact in SA?


Cellphone or R22m flag: what will define social compact in SA?

To tackle our ongoing misfortune our economic policies need to change, but do we have the appetite for this?


SA faces multiple risks. In the past week these were brought into sharp focus by the release of two important statistical series — one on unemployment by the statistician-general, the other on crime by the SAPS.

During his state of the nation address (Sona) in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that in July we have to implement a social compact. A flurry of activity has begun, including the dismounting of the infamous R22m flag. The question that remains is what the key material benefits of social compact will be and what type of nation we should become? Inputs into this discussion I find valuable are lessons about risk perception and avoidance strategies from my studies four decades ago. Can this shed light on the pathways that should be followed?

When I received a call on my cellphone from Prof Tukufu Zuberi from Pennsylvania University in the US I was in a rondavel in my deep rural village of Thaba Ts’oeu in Lesotho which has never had a landline. I was reminded of a study on farmers’ risk perception and avoidance strategies that I undertook 20 years earlier, in which communication barriers determined the success or otherwise of the ploughing season, the prospects of disaster from floods and the inertia of people who continue to reside in hazardous areas...

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