The secretary general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress Party (ANC) has said the country could become a failed state as incessant power cuts threaten to cripple the economy.
Fikile Mbalula told the BBC that “if certain things are not resolved, we will become a failed state, but we are not journeying towards that direction”.
In an exclusive interview with Stephen Sackur for the BBC’s Hardtalk programme, Mr Mbalula said that South Africa’s economy had “been battered”.
He said while external forces such as the global economy, impact of Covid, and war in Ukraine all played a role, the blame also lay partly with “some of our own weaknesses in terms of managing the economy well”.
One in two young South Africans are unemployed and 60% of South Africans are living under the poverty line. But the country “is recovering well”, Mr Mbalula said.
Defending the ANC’s economic record after almost three decades in power, Mr Mbulala said the government had cushioned “our people from the worst, after a legacy of 300 years of deprivation and a mismanaged country and economy”.
He acknowledged that regular “load-shedding”, an ongoing period of widespread power cuts, was at the heart of the country’s woes – and with dire consequences.
He said this could affect the political fortunes of the ANC in next year’s elections.
“It will effect the fortunes of the ANC to receive just an outright majority…if it is not dealt with decisively”, he said.