Not only have more than 400,000 high-income professionals emigrated from South Africa since 1994, but millions of remaining individuals are using the easing of forex controls to let their money emigrate.
This was one of the major findings in a new report by the Enterprise Observatory of South Africa (EOSA) which looked at how South Africa’s financial and business sector has shrunk dramatically over the last 10 years.
Speaking to 702’s Bruce Whitfield, the EOSA’s Johannes Wessels said that the 2017 government white paper on migration found that for every one South African emigrating to South Africa, eight are leaving.
The same white paper showed that the average number of black professionals leaving the country exceeds the number of white South Africans leaving, he said.
This shows that black South Africans are also voting with their feet and that the push factors behind this mass emigration impacts everyone, he said.
“The economy is clearly a big driver, and so is the security situation and the high levels of crime,” he said.
“On the World Economic Forum Index, the cost of crime on business in South Africa is the fifth highest in the world – behind only countries like Venezuela.
“It is a very difficult position for businesses to operate in and for professionals to make a contribution.”
Wessels said that more than 10 years ago Professor Ricardo Hausmann, an advisor to president Thabo Mbeki, recommended that BEE be revised as it is anti-growth and that the country cannot afford to continue losing the number of professionals it was.
With Hausmann recently being recalled to provide advice to finance minister Tito Mboweni, Wessels said that South Africa was in more or less the same position.
“So we have wasted 10 years and the question now is simply whether there will be a different response,” he said.
How many people have gone?
Angel Jones, CEO of Homecoming Revolution, a recruitment firm that specialises in ‘brain gain’ and bringing global African talent back to the continent, said that conservative estimates show that there are around 900,000 South Africans living abroad.
However, Homecoming Revolution believes that this number is likely closer to three times as high (2,700,000+), she said.
Speaking to 702 Jones said that BEE definitely could be a bit more flexible.
“We have unbelievably high calibre ‘pale males’ who are dying to come back,” she said. “Still we see plenty of South Africans wanting to return home.
“They want to be with friends. They want the lifestyle. They want a sense of belonging.”