The Desperation Nation

Vultures love a feast but will settle for scraps. Skilled and relentless, adapting to every condition, their keen eyesight allows them to swoop in wherever opportunities await. They fight off other birds and lash out at smaller scavengers for what they consider theirs.
There is little left when they’re done.

2035 Scenarios

The Economy of 2035

Implementation of self-serving laws and policies, including those on employment equity, water, NHI, and mining charters, eroded investor confidence. Budget deficits grew in the late 2020s due to a sluggish formal economy. Mineral extraction hit a low in 1995 levels. SA’s global mining exploration budgets dropped from 5% in 2004 to 0.3% in 2034. Ratings plummeted, discouraging investors. Wealth remains predominantly in white hands. Reluctance to invest bolstered an unfriendly government in 2029 and 2034. China and Saudi Arabia lent to SA, collateralized by resources. Unemployment is severe, with 44% in 2035, and youth unemployment at 63%. Government jobs grew, now supporting 2.5 million workers. Union decline led to marginalizing bodies like CCMA and Nedlac. Heavy post-2024 borrowing aimed to fix Transnet, Eskom, fund NHI, and social grants. Food shortages led to soaring prices, hunger, and malnutrition. Inflation outpaced wage growth, making South Africans 25% poorer in 2035 compared to 2020.

Power and Governance

From 2024 to 2029, a coalition of liberal-right-of-centre parties governed South Africa alongside populist partners. Their attempts to curb inflation through stringent austerity measures and implement aggressive anti-crime tactics ultimately had unintended consequences, sparking widespread discontent and alienation. As a result, the economy faced repeated recessions and high inflation rates. The populist parties eventually departed from the coalition, capitalizing on the public’s anger and despair. Following inconclusive electoral results in 2029, months of political bargaining ensued, culminating in a reconfigured populist coalition seizing power. This new government prioritized its core constituencies, solidifying its voter base, particularly among the educated youth who rallied behind its impassioned rhetoric. The discovery of deep-sea gas and oil deposits in 2031 prompted a wave of defections to the populist coalition from various political parties. The introduction of gas-to-cash initiatives proved pivotal in the lead-up to the 2034 elections, resulting in the narrow re-election of the coalition. Across South Africa, ethnic movements advocating for a return to traditional values held sway in four provinces and three major metropolitan areas. The scramble for positions and influence took precedence over policy and governance in much of the country.

Unprecedented Unity Against the Government: South Africans have rallied together, primarily in opposition to the government, displaying an unprecedented level of unity and shared concern.

Authoritarian Populist Rule and Erosion of Freedoms: Authoritarian, populist coalitions hold significant power, implementing restrictive laws that curtail media freedom and tightly regulate civil society, leading to a notable erosion of democratic values.

Economic Stagnation and Imminent Fiscal Crisis: The economy has experienced a prolonged period of stagnation since 2029, with every economic measure indicating contraction. South Africa now faces an impending fiscal catastrophe, resorting to desperate borrowing to keep the country financially afloat.

Severe Unemployment Crisis: The labor market presents a dire situation, with over half of adults facing unemployment. Official figures reveal an alarming 43% unemployment rate, with youth unemployment soaring above 60%.

Alarming Levels of Food Insecurity: One-third of South Africans experience food insecurity, going to bed hungry at least once a week, highlighting a pressing issue of inadequate access to basic sustenance.

Escalating Influence of Organized Crime: Organized crime has taken advantage of a weakened and disorganized state, seizing the initiative and further exacerbating the challenges facing South Africa.