Considering the barrage of bad economic news to which South Africans have been subjected, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of 2015 Afrobarometer survey findings on the economy is that on a personal level, citizens seem to be doing slightly better. Furthermore, fewer South Africans in 2015 than in 2011 report having gone without basic necessities during the previous year.
However, at a macroeconomic level, a majority of South Africans view the economy as performing “fairly badly” or “very badly”. Compared to 2011, more citizens in 2015, say the country’s economic situation is bad, view economic conditions as worse than a year ago and not likely to improve over the next 12 months.
Citizens’ pessimism about the economy aligns strongly with its performance. With the exception of the recession of 2008-2009, economic prospects in 2016 are at their weakest point since 2000, with the economy projected to grow at 0,9%, having dropped from 1.3% in 2015 and 1.5% in 2014. The official unemployment rate remains high at 24,5% (Statistics South Africa, 2016).
The findings on the economy are being released at a time when the government, amid a severe drought and the impact of load shedding, has announced its plan to increase prices for some basic commodities as well as electricity.
For more information, please refer to Dispatch No. 83.