South Africa's gross domestic product (GDP) was worth US$419.02 billion in 2021. If we consider that we have a population of 61.23 million people, this equates to approximately $6900 for every man, woman, and child. At today's currency conversion, that equals R123,424 per person for a year. There are some who will look at this and see a fortune, whereas others will look at this and wonder what went wrong with their income. Of course, not everyone is created equal, and this is exactly the point I wish to make with this piece.
South Africa's unemployment rate was at 32.9 percent in the third quarter of 2022. This equates to 7.725 million people who do not have a job or a means of generating income. We have a total labour force of 23.491 million. The rest are children and the elderly. What this means, in real terms, is that 38 percent of our population needs to provide for the rest, and of those breadwinners, only 67 percent are gainfully employed.
If one considers that the South African revenue service collected R1.564 trillion to service governments 2022 budget plan, it means that, effectively, 15 766 000 people brought home the bacon at approximately R99 200 each, last year. And then, bearing in mind that not everybody pays personal income tax, some within that group paid far more than others as well. Personal income tax (PIT) was paid by just 5.2 million individuals in 2020 meaning that 9 percent of our population contribute 40 percent of South Africa's total revenue. And this number is shrinking.
South Africa today is circling the drain. It is not sustainable that so few should subsidise so many. I thought I would write this piece to propose another way forward, a new way of making the citizens of our country accountable to one another and incentivising them to do so. The African National Congress (ANC) runs our country as if it was their personal piggy bank, looting and pillaging our resources for the benefit of a few connected elite types at the expense of everyone else. These people are squirrelling away millions while millions are going to sleep hungry at night. Ironically, the Marxist model of their so-called Freedom Charter is white is primarily to blame. And it simply cannot continue.
I am someone who believes in earning your rights. That is to say, your right to vote, your right to participate in the economy of our country, and your right to enjoy all the benefits that this country provides. While I agree that offering things like free education, free universal healthcare, and social security for those who are elderly, disabled, or infirm, these things should be privileges, not things that are taken for granted as rights to those who are too lazy to contribute to our society.
Allow me, then, to unpack this. I believe that one's right to vote and participate within our body politic should be earned by availing oneself for two years service in either our military or our police force. I also believe that it should be earned by committing oneself to complete one's education to the matric level, at least. Only then, do I believe, will people have skin in the game – having shown commitment, accountability, and having taken personal responsibility for the welfare of our nation.
I truly believe that this will lead to growing our tax base, thereby growing the resources we need to develop our country's infrastructure, ensuring our security, and giving ourselves the best possible chance of successfully navigating our way to a prosperous future. Our citizens need to understand that, whereas our government will assist them wherever possible, it is up to them both collectively and individually to take responsibility for themselves.
You may argue that military conscription is an outlandish concept in the 21st century. Yes, not many nations still ask their citizens to submit to their service, but in the case of South Africa, I believe that we are largely lacking a culture of responsible citizenry. I believe that, in the case of conscientious objection or religious protest, other forms of public service could be offered as alternatives, but in the end, I believe that it will bring us closer together as a country to stand shoulder to shoulder, together in our service to it. And I believe we will be in good company – Finland, Switzerland, and Austria in Europe, Israel in the Middle East, Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan in Asia, Cuba and Colombia in Latin America, and Angola, Eritrea and South Sudan in Africa.