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ExtraVirgin April 2010
Money
Money We have all been there – the morning after. Eish!
Everything seems slower, less bright, more of a grind and not much fun. A bit like running underwater. Now more than ever, we need to stay positive, writes Craig Gill.

As I write, the World Cup is in full swing and the excitement is mounting as we enter the knock out phases – South Africa continues to impress and surprise all who are here, both visitors and citizens – and the vibe is incredible.

There is a feeling of optimism and pride, everyone has amazing nation building experiences and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the nation is on a high not seen for a long time. However, by the time this edition hits the streets, this euphoria will be a rapidly fading memory.

Optimism is an amazing drug and South Africa pre-World Cup is a case in point. We have been facing some tough economic realities for some time here on the Southern Tip – but the imminent arrival of the world biggest sporting event allowed us to a) postpone addressing these issues and b) hope that these challenges will somehow become less pressing or improve as a result of all the goodwill and foreign cash inflows we’re receiving during this time.

To some degree, these hopes have materialised – foreign inflows have been substantial by all accounts, evidenced by a currency that stubbornly remains ‘overvalued’ by all common metrics. Despite this, Tourism SA looks set to have a bumper winter season, and it seems reasonable to expect some degree of goodwill spillover in the months to come for the tourism industry.

 

Tourism represents a larger and larger proportion of our economy and has the added advantage of being a sector of the economy that can create jobs and generate hard currency revenues. Hosting the World Cup in such a spectacularly successful fashion can only be a huge long term plus for this sector of the economy.

The brutal reality that we are now unfortunately forced to face though, through bleary and weary eyes – is that our economic challenges are substantial and will not have been alleviated or postponed by our hosting of the footy.

Formal employment in SA is not growing, and the lucky few in formal employment are screaming for wage increases in multiples higher than inflation. Long term this is not a good development. The informal economy struggles along with the now looming cloud of xenophobic violence on the horizon. Let us hope that this threat passes without any downpours. Domestic strikes are hampering our ability to import and export the lifeblood of the country, competitiveness is hampered by our insufficient skills pool and political interfering in economic policy is a concerning development. Bloody Mary, anyone?

What's required is hard work, original thought and endeavor. We need to embrace the energy and can-do attitude, the goodwill and the spirit generated during this mother of all parties – drink lots of fluids, get some sleep and then get busy. We live in amazing country, filled with the most resourceful people; these challenges – just like that of hosting the World Cup – can definitely be met and conquered. Viva South Africa, Viva!