The declining rankings of South Africa in some of the world’s key development and competitiveness indicators points to a massive policy failure by government, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Thursday.
The DA released a comparative analysis of South Africa’s performance in key international indicators, including the Human Development Index, released by the United Nations in 2009 and the Global Competitiveness Report, released by the World Economic Forum in 2010.
“If you don’t take into cognisance the trends highlighted by international statistics then you have no idea how far you are from becoming a failed state,” said Athol Trollip, the DA’s parliamentary leader.
Trollip called on government to take an “in-depth view” of the various indices and “not be clouded by rose-coloured lenses about where we actually are in South Africa”.
“These are reality checks,” he said.
According to the DA’s review under the Human Development Index, the country had slid to 129 out of 182 countries in 2009 due to contributing factors such as continued high crime rates, levels of poverty and HIV/Aids prevalence.
Under the Global Competitiveness Report, South Africa dropped from 45 out of 133 countries last year to 54 of 139.
It ranked very well in certain subcategories of the index such as the soundness of banks (six of 139), regulation of securities exchanges (one of 139) and strength of legal rights (six of 139).
In other subcategories the report noted serious shortfalls under health and education. Quality of education was ranked at 130 of 139, and quality of maths and science education at 137.
Meanwhile in terms of health, SA ranked 127 for life expectancy, 109 for infant mortality and 138 for the business impact of HIV/Aids.
The DA also pointed to growing concerns over the freedom of the press and the declining international perceptions of media freedom in South Africa with the advent of the proposed protection of information Bill being reviewed in Parliament, as well as continued political pressure for the creation of a media appeals tribunal.
Trollip criticised the government for failing to produce regular comprehensive assessments regarding key aspect of development, such as the changing levels of poverty.
The critical shortage of key local data “placed greater importance on the information generated by international bodies”.
South Africa was coming off a relatively low base of development indicators 16 years into democracy and as such, should be showing steady if not rapid improvement rather than decline, he said.
“It’s very important to compare budget allocations to performance and if you look at health and education in particular we allocate more budget per capita than many developing countries but performance is limited.”