Sweet election promises will neither prevent, nor reverse emigration

In response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appeal that young South Africans should not emigrate, AfriForum reminded the President that sweet election promises will not be enough to convince people that they have a sustainable future in the country and therefore have to remain here.

According to Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, the organization has since its inception remained in contact with South Africans abroad. This is being done by means of, inter alia, its Worldwide campaign, managed by Sue-Ann de Wet. Surveys that are regularly undertaken amongst emigrants prove that they comprise of people of all ages, fields of experience, racial and language groups, as well as that their love for their country and people remains very strong.

“They testify that successful emigration requires great economic and emotional sacrifice. The majority who respond to our polls, dream of returning to the country, but on the basis of events taking place here, they do not regard this to be a viable option,” she says.

Crime and uncertainty about property rights are some of the foremost issues determining whether people decide to emigrate or return to South Africa. A lack of sustainable career opportunities is another major consideration which is exacerbated by a lack of equal opportunities due to racial quotas, cadre deployment, tenderpreneurial activities and the destruction of business opportunities by the collapse of infrastructure as is illustrated by, for example, load shedding. Record high levels of unemployment and youth unemployment contribute to their lack of confidence.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just announced that it will reduce its South African economic growth outlook for 2019 from 1.4% to 1.2%, and for 2020 from 1.7% to 1.5%.  Along with the concerns expressed by credit rating agencies and other financial institutions about the state of the economy and the lack of vigorous action against corruption, it will require more than words to influence migration decisions.”

Bailey adds that, unless policy certainty re property rights, equal opportunities in the labour market, effective infrastructure maintenance (especially concerning electricity and water supply), and effectual steps against criminals become evident, emigration is likely to increase even further.

“Promises no longer suffice. Emigrants and prospective emigrants will wait for concrete proof before their confidence will be restored. If President Ramaphosa is indeed serious about preventing or reversing emigration, that is where he should start.”

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