Frans Cronje was head of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), an organisation that has been collecting socio-economic and political data on South Africa for nearly a century.
His book, The Rise Or Fall Of South Africa, is the culmination of the IRR’s research and presents a detailed analysis of the country’s potential future trajectory.
The book delves into the potential future trajectory of South Africa, contemplating whether or not South Africa will persist on a path of state capture, corrupt leadership, and economic downturn, or if it can recover from the lost decade.
In his conversation with me, Frans discusses the concept of “chosen glory”, a political psychology term referring to a society that, despite a difficult past, is able to achieve great successes. He mentions that, in the first decade to 15 years after 1994, South Africa was on the path to becoming a case study of this concept.
During this period, the country saw significant improvements in living standards, job creation, and infrastructure development. For instance, for every new shack erected, ten formal houses were being built.
However, the subsequent decade saw a stagnation and even a dip in these positive trends.
This has led to a risk that the collective psychology of the country could shift towards fear of failure. His book explores this psychological aspect in depth, questioning whether the collective will of the South African people can overcome these challenges and resume the positive trajectory seen in the early years of post-apartheid democracy.
Frans also notes the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the book was written before the pandemic, he had anticipated that an external shock could put significant pressure on the country. The pandemic has indeed played this role, adding to the challenges that South Africa faces.
What path will South Africa take in the coming decades?
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