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2024-02-12 2:49 PM

South Africa’s Economic Resilience Faces Social Unrest Surge

  • Despite economic resilience amid challenges like load shedding, South Africa faces an imminent surge in social unrest and violence, according to Allianz's Country Risk Atlas.
  • The country's strengths include modest GDP growth, stable sectors like mining and manufacturing, and fiscal consolidation efforts. However, weaknesses such as energy crisis and political tensions pose significant risks.
  • Allianz warns of escalating social unrest during the upcoming election period, fueled by diminishing support for the ruling ANC and persistent socio-economic challenges like inequality and demographic pressures.
By Miriam Matoma

South Africa, despite its economic resilience amidst challenges such as load shedding, is poised to experience a surge in social unrest and violence in the coming months. This forecast comes from the recent release of the Country Risk Atlas by German financial service provider Allianz. This comprehensive analysis assesses various factors influencing non-payment risk for companies, including economic, political, and business environment indicators.

Current Economic Outlook

According to Allianz, South Africa has demonstrated remarkable economic performance despite the burden of load shedding, which remains a significant risk factor for the country. The expected GDP growth for the year is modest but exceeds earlier projections by various economic entities, including Deloitte Africa, Investec, Nedbank Group Economic Unit, and the International Monetary Fund. Sectors such as mining and manufacturing are anticipated to maintain their output levels, supported by improved electricity availability, electoral spending, tourism, and domestic demand. Fiscal consolidation efforts, disciplined salary increases, and enhanced tax collections are contributing to stabilizing the government debt ratio.

Strengths and Weaknesses

South Africa boasts several strengths, including external resilience to shocks, abundant international reserves, a flexible exchange rate, and manageable external debt. However, challenges persist, primarily stemming from the energy crisis, which hampers growth for businesses and households. Allianz warns of an impending increase in social unrest and violent incidents during the electoral period. The diminishing support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) observed in the 2022 local elections may exacerbate political tensions. Despite fiscal improvements, the country’s public debt sustainability risk remains a concern due to short-term revenue absorption for debt repayment and high sovereign bond yields.

Rising Social Unrest and Political Challenges

Allianz predicts a surge in violent uprisings and political disputes during the upcoming election cycle, which could strain state legitimacy and the ANC’s ability to manage dissent effectively. While the ANC is likely to maintain its parliamentary majority, the diminishing support underscores growing discontent among the populace. Additionally, demographic pressures, competition between interest groups and unions, and persistent inequality pose further challenges to effective governance and policy implementation.


In summary, South Africa’s economic resilience amid challenges such as load shedding is commendable, but the nation faces significant risks in the form of rising social unrest and political instability. As the country navigates through these challenges, policymakers must address critical issues such as energy supply, social inequality, and political governance to ensure sustainable growth and stability. Allianz’s Country Risk Atlas serves as a vital tool for understanding these complex dynamics and preparing for the uncertainties ahead in South Africa’s economic and political landscape.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam