13 July 2023

Indlulamithi to launch newly updated South Africa Scenarios for 2035 report and Barometer findings in October

Lack of ethical leadership, low economic growth and insecurity continue to threaten SA’s future, according to the new Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios for 2035, to be launched in October 2023.

The past three years have not been business as usual. South Africa and the rest of the world have felt the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and geopolitical conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine war. These are issues that have been considered in the new Indlulamithi SA Scenarios for 2035.

The Indlulamithi South Africa 2030 Scenarios, released in 2018, comprised of three scenarios − Nayi le Walk (a nation in step with itself), iSbhujwa (an enclave bourgeois nation) and Gwara Gwara (a floundering false dawn). These were developed before the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, intensifying of rivalry between the US and China and other new global trends such as the consolidation of digital technology and rise in AI. Many trends on the African continent, such as the consolidation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, have emerged since 2018. While the 2030 scenarios still have relevance in driving the agenda on issues South Africa should address, there is a need to incorporate more recent global and continental developments.

The 2035 scenarios are focused in answering the question: What will South Africa look like in 2035? They will illustrate the possible directions the future could unfold so that the South African public can engage in better informed conversations about decisions to be taken today.

Almost 150 South Africans from a wide variety of backgrounds have been involved in the process thus far. Twenty-six variables have been identified after scores of interviews, several focus group discussions, roundtables and on the basis of many research papers. Three key driving forces (KDFs) have been identified as impacting on SA’s future. They are: 1) the low economic growth trap, 2) state weakness, declining democratic accountability and weakening sovereignty, and 3) internal security threatened by anger, distrust and factors such as resistance to renewal.

By the low economic growth trap the project took cognisance of debilitating impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on economic growth. It also noted the limited adherence to the present economic framework that continues to prevent economic growth and creation of employment, resulting in persistent poverty and inequality, as well as a deepening fiscal crisis within the country. Also, despite living in a technologically-advanced era, there’s still much to be done in maximising tech-related business opportunities, leaving the country to continue being dependent on global geopolitical and international diplomatic and trade relations.

The second KDF of state weakness, declining democratic accountability and weakening sovereignty emphasised that the South African state continues to face a crisis of weak leadership, impacting on its ability to take decisions and drive policies. This affects all state institutions, especially those at municipal level, having a negative impact on service delivery for citizens on the ground. The private sector is not immune as it also suffers from declining accountability and social responsibility, which limits partnerships for the collective good of society. Both the public and private sector are battling a culture of corruption and unaccountability that weakens working towards a common good as a collective, which highlights the need to cultivate strong ethical leadership.


The third KDF highlights internal security in South Africa, which is threatened by anger, distrust and factors such as resistance to renewal: The high youth unemployment rate is likely to add to social disruption and youth alienation that are likely to manifest in anger and continued social unrest. The lack of political will continues to disintegrate social cohesion and the institution of the family, deepening the fractures of an already historically-wounded nation.

There is also the emergence of new local and global security threats that South Africa will need to address. The country is faced with unconventional security threats such as epidemics, natural disasters, transnational crime, cyber-attacks, human and drug trafficking and mass migration. These threats have already begun to have a negative impact, and have had political, social and economic implications around the world.

Unlike in previous years, Indlulamithi Day will not be observed in 2023. Indlulamithi Day marked the launch of the Indlulamithi SA Scenarios in 2018. Over the years, the day has served as an annual occasion for us to present updated Indlulamithi Barometer findings. The Barometer provides an annual assessment of the direction in which South Africa is moving in relation to the scenarios.

The Indlulamithi Trustees, Executive Committee and Reference Group look forward to sharing the findings of the new Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios for 2035, which we hope to launch in September. We hope that they will assist both leaders and citizens to stay focused on building a stronger and better South Africa for all.