Yesterday I wrote about the ANC and five ways it is undermining the country. Today: five reasons why I continue to be optimistic.

  1. Above all else – the indefatigable determination of our people to stand up for our rights. South Africans simply don’t take injustice lying down. Sometimes they will go to the courts. Sometimes they will take to the streets. The protests can be pleasant and peaceful. At other times they are violent and destructive. There were 13 575 community related protests in the country between April last year and March 2014. We stand up for our rights! This resistance is supported by a strong and vocal civic society. Movements from the Treatment Action Campaign to the Legal Resources Centre back ordinary people as they struggle to get everything from health care to housing. Few countries can match the depth and strength of these organisations. Their work is buttressed by a watchful and independent media reporting on government at every level, holding it to account. The media are an effective watchdog, despite the failures of the SABC and attempts to buy up and control some sections of the press.
  2. Our political parties are innovative, challenging and keep popping up! The Economic Freedom Fighters have certainly made Parliament more colourful and their opposition is hard to ignore. At the same time the Democratic Alliance is now a truly representative, multiracial party. When did you last see a white face at the ANC top table? But there are plenty of black faces in the DA leadership. The ANC has a proud past and many good people in it, but the party has become arrogant and complacent in power. It badly needs to lose office and reform itself.
  3. South Africa has  world class Universities. These centres of excellence provide a steady stream of highly trained, motivated young men and women. Many will go on to start businesses that will provide the jobs that are so badly needed. Others will staff hospitals and schools, and help to drive up standards.
  4. The country has given rise to some of the great businesses of the world – SAB Miller, Old Mutual, Anglo-American – the list goes on and on. Companies like Shopright have grown from a small Cape firm in 1979 to one of the top 100 retailers in the world. Today the Shoprite Group trades with 1581 corporate and 367 franchise outlets in 15 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.
  5. South Africa is lekker. There is hardly a week without a festival or participatory sporting event of some kind. From the mighty Grahamstown Festival to the tiny Smithfield Platterland Preview. From the Comrades Marathon to the Platteklip Challenge. Who can doubt that we know how to have a great time? It is a major draw card for tourists and help’s keep us all cheerful. Not to be sneered at!

All in all, there is plenty to be optimistic about and plenty to celebrate.