ED’S NOTE

Snap out of it

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Uncertainty may be the new normal, but the present is no time in which to bury one's head in the sand.

Recently, the veteran political analyst Max du Preez captured the mood of the moment when he urged that South Africans should urgently escape the paralysing grip of depression and pessimism lest it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"Economists, political scientists and scenario planners are reluctant to acknowledge a nation’s mood as a factor that can have a significant influence on national affairs," he wrote.

"They play it safe and only look at statistics, policies and official decisions. They are wrong. Indexes of investor and consumer confidence are themselves significant indicators of national sentiment. Optimism, like pessimism, is infectious and can have a meaningful impact on national politics and the economy. The private sector is sitting on a mountain of cash, reportedly around a trillion rand, that they are too nervous to invest right now. A new spirit of enthusiasm and optimism can change that, and so economic growth can be stimulated and jobs created."

From an Opportunity perspective, there is always cause for enthusiasm and optimism if we look in the right places. One such place would be the successful infrastructure projects that, slowly but surely, are opening up borders for SADC countries to trade among themselves without the restrictions imposed by the legacy of colonial frontiers and antagonisms. The Musina Intermodal Terminal is a case in point. This initiative, which must surely go down in the annals of history as one of the greatest infrastructure success stories of recent times, promises to accelerate economic growth and development, drive increased foreign and domestic direct investment, increase value-added exports and create jobs throughout the region.

Indeed, the more we focus on the positive and invest wisely, the more opportunities will arise. Of course, much remains to be done. Much more needs to be invested in women, for example, not only because women deserve a better deal, but because women hold the key to unlocking future economic prosperity. This has always been the case, but for some reason women have been undervalued and neglected by men who should have known better. It's in everyone's best interests that this should change immediately.

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