What if KZN was an independent African state?

By Siyabonga Mchunu - 04 July 2018Views : 2747


Nobody really knows what the future holds, following the Land Imbizo held in Ulundi on Wednesday but now is perhaps the time to interrogate the economic viability of KwaZulu-Natal, were it to break away from South Africa.

The are naturally several factors that would need to be taken into account, many of which the author of this article is not qualified to interrogate.

For example, would KwaZulu-Natal be able to generate the revenue that it currently does, were it to break away from South Africa? Would the province be able to trade in the same way that it does under the South African administration.

Would investors be prepared to stick around, to find out if KwaZulu-Natal really was open for business? That and a whole lot more would need to be taken into account...we imagine.

Predicting the future might be futile, but what we can do is at least examine the now and according to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), this is what we currently know about the KwaZulu-Natal economy, its standing in the country and its standing on the African continent.

According to the latest data available at StatsSA, KwaZulu-Natal was/is the second largest economy in South Africa - obviously behind Gauteng. Gauteng's economy, being the powerhouse that it is, is growing faster than that of any other province (1.4 percent) and its contribution to South Africa's GDP is at just over 34 percent.

KwaZulu-Natal, currently in second place, contributes 15.9 percent to the South African economy. Cool.

However, it gets quite interesting when one begins to explore KwaZulu-Natal's ranking in the scheme of things on the African continent.

Firstly, let us just deal with our awe for Gauteng and get it out of the way. If Gauteng were a country, it would have the sixth largest economy on the continent, behind Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, Angola and Morocco.

South Africa is obviously being discounted on that list.

KwaZulu-Natal would find itself lingering just outside the Top 10 - in 11th. Ahead of countries like Libya, Ghana and Tunisia. If anything, the figures are an indictment on the continent as a whole but it would appear the Zulu Kingdom would, at the very least have the capacity to go it alone should King Goodwill Zwelithini's movement gather meaningful traction.

What the region does with that potential is a debate for another day perhaps. So, we can never really know what the genuine intentions of King Goodwill Zwelithini and the Zulu nation are, but at some point it might be prudent to have a discussion on whether a breakaway will be viable.