South Africa, Africa | Country Profile (2023)

Executive Summary

  • The ruling ANC will hold an elective conference in December 2022 to select its leaders for the next five years. Cyril Ramaphosa, who will seek a second term as party president, is likely to support a more expansionary fiscal stance by the government ahead of that meeting, to appease a rival faction in the party. The recent decline in ANC electoral support will encourage delay to reforms intended to curb government expenditure, with extensions of the Basic Income Grant (BIG) now very likely.
  • The rebound in South Africa’s GDP by an estimated 4.9% in 2021 combined with a significant commodity-related corporate tax revenue windfall are likely to leave the budget deficit for fiscal year (FY) 2021/22 closer to 5.7% of GDP, versus the initial target of 9.3%. The additional tax revenue allowed Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to lower the government borrowing requirement by ZAR135.8 billion in FY 2021/22 and finance an additional ZAR48.2 billion in social welfare spending in FY 2022/23. Despite the improvement, the National Treasury expects public-sector debt to peak at 75.1% of GDP in FY 2024/25.
  • Rand exchange-rate volatility will probably increase during 2022, especially given the probable recurrence of violent protests similar to those in July 2021. South Africa’s current-account surplus is forecast to narrow to an estimated 0.1% of GDP in 2022, leaving less room for sustained exchange-rate support. US dollar strength and foreign capital flow volatility are expected to add to the rand’s vulnerability. This is likely to be compounded by policy uncertainty on issues such as land reform and the independence of the central bank. Overall, IHS Markit expects the rand to average ZAR16.55/USD1.00 during 2022, versus an average of ZAR14.80/USD1.00 in 2021.
  • South Africa’s real GDP should expand by 1.9% in 2022, marginally lower than the 2% previously expected. The frequency and duration of energy disruptions implemented by state power producer Eskom during April–July 2022 exceeded IHS Markit’s initial expectations. High food and transport costs are likely to push headline inflation up to 6.8% in 2022, from 4.6% in 2021. The South African Reserve Bank is expected to continue its tightening monetary-policy stance, with another 50-basis-point increase in interest rates forecast during November 2022. This follows the 250-basis-point hike in the policy rate since the start of 2022.
  • If former president Jacob Zuma’s medical parole were overturned and he were forced to return to prison, the risk of violent protests would be very high. This would be likely to result in blocking of major highways for several hours at a time, and electricity substations being burned down in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces.

Operational outlook

Inter-union rivalry contributes to increased strike and violence risks, particularly in the precious metal mining sector amid a continuing battle for influence. The introduction of a minimum wage was supported by most unions, but the hardline SAFTU federation is likely to continue calling for nationwide demonstrations in 2022 demanding unlikely increases. The government plans to synchronise a state-capture inquiry with prosecutions, which are likely to implicate more companies in business malpractice allegations. However, corruption risks for investors in the medium term will probably be reduced by the further dismantling of certain powerful patronage networks.

Terrorism

Ground cargo is at very high risk of theft by organised crime syndicates countrywide, and of disruption, arson, and looting by protesters periodically blocking major roads in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces. This particularly affects the N2 and N3 highways – the main access routes for ground cargo to Durban and Richards Bay ports. Violent protests like those in early July 2021, although smaller, are likely to become more frequent over the next year, driven by supporters of former president Zuma and broader socio-economic factors. The Cape Town passenger rail service has been targeted repeatedly in arson attacks, reportedly due to passenger dissatisfaction. Gauteng remains the hotspot for carjacking and truck-hijacking incidents.

Delinquency

Crime is the dominant security issue in South Africa. The murder rate is among the highest in the world, and official statistics released in March 2021 showed an increase, compared with the previous 12 months; however, this is still lower than South Africa’s peak in 2002–03. Most violent incidents are highly localised within townships, such as Guguletu in Cape Town, Katlehong in Gauteng, and KwaMashu in KwaZulu-Natal. Carjacking remains frequent and an increase of 13.3% was recorded in 2019–20. Likely recurring violent protests by Zuma loyalist in the next 6–12 months presents opportunities for increased crime such as truck hijacking and looting.

War risks

South Africa has no active border disputes and inter-state conflict is very unlikely in the one-year outlook. The government’s conservative foreign policy and capacity constraints on its armed forces limit the probability of foreign peacekeeping deployments beyond contributions to the UN mission in the DRC, and continued anti-terrorism support for Mozambique. The likely re-imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma increases the likelihood of armed confrontations between those loyal to him and government security forces in KwaZulu-Natal province. These would probably involve limited exchanges of small-arms fire, assassinations, or arson attacks on police stations or checkpoints. Zuma supporters have thus far not demonstrated any improvised explosive device (IED) capability.

Social stability

Within city centres, social unrest risks stem largely from political, xenophobic, student fees and labour-related protests, and persistent service-delivery-related demonstrations are confined to townships. A significant rise in protests is likely in the final months of 2022 as local activists drive anti-government sentiment ahead of the ANC elective conference in December. The Economic Freedom Fighters party has joined pressure groups to call for constitutional and legislative changes, which will likely materialise during the current sitting of the sixth democratic parliament. Protests over the delivery of public services in many townships often become violent, but are usually contained within these areas.

Health Risk South Africa

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and over one year of age and for travelers who have been in transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B : A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for travelers over one year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever (YFV) transmission and from Eritrea, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia. Vaccination is also required if the traveler has been in transit in an airport located in a country with risk of YFV transmission.

Natural Risks

The Cape region mayexperience heavy rains, floods, and landslides during the austral winter (Juneto August).

Many areas, especiallyin the province of Western Cape (Cape region), are also affected by bush firesduring the austral summer (December to February), which tend to cause extensivematerial damage and traffic problems. In January 2017, significant wildfirescaused the destruction of several properties in Somerset West.

Transportation

Most modes oftransportation are considered relatively safe (roads, Gautrain, nationalairlines, etc.).

South Africa has goodairport infrastructure serving large cities. South African airlines (domesticand low-cost) operate in accordance with international safety standards. It isadvised to remain vigilant in airports, as numerous baggage thefts arereported. Similarly, cases of travelers who were followed from the airport totheir home to be attacked, have been recorded. It is advisable to organize yourarrival at the airport prior to departure.

The Gautrainhigh-speed rail line linking Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport aswell as Pretoria can be taken safely. It is recommended, however, to not usethe old railway line "Metro" between Johannesburg and Pretoria, wheremany bandits operate. Management of the rail network is often criticized bySouth Africans who denounce the insufficient amount of funds given to thissector.

Major highwayscrossing the country are in good condition. However, secondary roads -especially in provinces of Eastern Cape and Limpopo - are often poorlymaintained and/or unpaved. While driving in South Africa, remain alert foranimals, people walking alongside the road, dangerous overtaking, and lack oflighting in some areas. Driving in rural areas at night should be strictlyavoided. Roads around North Kwazulu and Zuzuland are particularly dangerous atnight, as numerous robberies were reported, especially on secondary roads.Fatal car accidents occur frequently as vehicles are poorly maintained andthere is a general lack of respect for road rules.

The use of achauffeured vehicle is recommended to get acclimated to a city's environment. Itis worth noting that in South Africa motorists drive on the left side of theroad, which will require special attention for those accustomed to driving onthe right.

Furthermore, it isessential to be particularly vigilant on roads, as thieves are known to employvarious methods to stop a vehicle (e.g. placing stones on the road, simulatingcar breakdown, impersonating and dressing like police officers, or hitchhiking).Finally, it is recommended to keep belongings out of sight and to lock car doorswhile driving. When traveling over long distances, cars should be stocked withadequate supplies of water, food, and fuel. Ensure that the vehicle containsspare mechanical parts (wheels, cables, etc.) and has an effective means oftelecommunication.

Tourists and businesstravelers should never travel alone or at night; it is best to travel in groupsof at least three. Travelers are also advised to avoid taking public transitand to instead travel by chauffeured car as much as possible. Driving should belimited as much as possible to daylight hours and windows should remain rolledup and doors locked. Avoid minibus services due to the dangerous drivingpractices of bus drivers and potential mechanical failures of old, wornvehicles.

Useful Information South Africa

Climate

The climate in South Africa varies considerably from one region to another. The northwest is arid while the central and northeastern areas are less so. The monsoon brings heavy rains in the summer (January-April), particularly to the Johannesburg coast. Temperatures are highest from December until March (summer). Temperatures can fall below freezing in winter months and snow is not rare at higher elevations, notably in the Drakensberg mountain range.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +27
Police: 110

Electricity

Voltage: 220/230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

South Africa, Africa | Country Profile (1)

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