The data used to generate this chart was taken from the South African government.

This area line chart shows the total South African government debt from 1983 through to 2024. 1983 is found on the right hand side and 2024 on the left.

What does the data tell us?

We can conclude that the total South African government debt has increased from 1983 and exponentially from 2010. In 2010 the South African government had a total debt of roughly 1000 billion Rand. Fast forward ten years and in 2020 the total state debt is 4000 billion. While it is normal for government debt to rise, the exponential nature of the debt over ten years is what should concern us because it means that the state has less money for the services that the country needs to progress.

What do we do with this information?

Our initial response might be to panic – I do not suggest this. We must remember that the average South African is level headed and conservative economically, this is a promising sign. We have been through some tough times in our history and have always come out the other end intact. However, we must realise that the South African government is in big financial trouble. What caused this debt? While the 2020 – 2021 lockdown has contributed to the increased debt, the data shows that the debt was increasing before 2020. From my analysis of the situation, it appears as though the causes are varied. From a decrease in foreign investment to corruption, a failed Eskom and policies that have made it very difficult for South African entrepreneurs to grow successful businesses. Our response to this debt is for us to look to our communities for answers. The Afrikaans phrase “A vok red homself” comes to mind. We need to take the money we have and invest it into wealth building initiatives that are isolated from the state so that we can cushion ourselves from what may come if the debt continues to rise exponentially.