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And here we are at the end of another busy year, looking back on the highs and lows experienced by the country and its people. What happened in 2019? It seems to have flown by so fast! Today, let’s focus on the highs – let’s take a look at all the positives that have come out of the past 12 months for South Africans abroad and those still living in the country!

Regardless of where you have ended up and settled, a little piece of you (or maybe even a big piece of you) will always be “back home”, in South Africa, won’t it? This is the case for many expats and is not just a phenomenon unique to South Africa. That said, this is what makes South Africa’s 2019 highlights ever so special for you and others like you.

When you look at this year in review, the astronomical win of the Rugby World Cup probably stands out, with an ultra-bright spotlight shining on it. But there is so much more that the country experienced in terms of achievements, transformations, and positive change.

Let’s take a look at what happened in 2019 in SA.

SA Slams England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup!

Although it has already been mentioned, another look at the Rugby World Cup win is well worth it. On the 2nd of November 2019, the entire country exploded into a roar of proud excitement as South Africa beat England 32:12 at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. When the Springbok Rugby team set foot back on South African soil, the pride ran thick in the air as airports packed full of thousands of people were waiting for them – ready to celebrate in their win with them. A nation was bonded – drawn together – and completely swept up in the excitement and celebrations. It was a proud moment for every South African.

Kieswetter Plans Big Change for SARS and Revenue Collection.

Another of the 2019 highlights is that of the positive change in store for SARS and tax collection systems. Unfortunately for the country, tax collections in August 2019 were a mere 37% of the target, but according to Kieswetter (the newly appointed SARS boss), much will be done to restore SARS to its previous glory and to instate tax collection systems that are more effective.

Expats Get the Opportunity to Exercise Their Right to Vote in the 2019 SA Elections!

The South African elections caused quite a stir for those with a vested interest in the country. In August 2019 the country (and South Africans abroad) watched on with bated breath as each member of the national community casted their vote. Many felt that this was the most important election since 1994 – the people finally had a voice. The elections in 2019 were not only available to local citizens, but also made available to expats living abroad. Perhaps you participated in these elections from wherever you find yourself settled right now. Section 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996), states that all South Africans now living abroad have the right to vote in National elections. And they did. The Special Vote was for many, one of the country’s most important 2019 highlights – and it will be in the future too.

Plastic Waste in SA Gets a New Destiny – Durable Plastic Roads.

Something that stands out clearly when taking a look at the 2019 year in review is the progress that the country has made in terms of waste management. Many would assume that no progress has been made, but one particular project illustrates a completely different story. Plastic pollution is not a problem that is unique to South Africa, but it is certainly a very serious one in the country. If you are living abroad, you probably don’t miss the litter and plastic waste problem “back home”, but 2019 saw big change hit the country as the first plastic road was conceptualized and put into practice in Jeffrey’s Bay. The Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape began work on the plastic road on the 5th of August 2019. Just 3 months later; it is complete. The best news of all is that the road is built using non-recyclable waste plastic that is otherwise destined for incineration or landfills. MacRebur’s (the company tasked with the road’s construction) spokesperson states the following: “With each kilometre of road laid using our MacRebur products, we use up the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8 million one-time-use plastic bags. 1 tonne of MacRebur mix contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles”. Now, that’s a win for South Africa and the environment!

2020 Brings with it Changes to Expat Tax – SARS Announces!

When you think of a year in review in SA, it is rather difficult not to gravitate towards tax and finances – after all, this affects local citizens and expats alike. One of the SARS announcements that stand out in 2019 is that of expected changes to expat tax in 2020. SARS expat tax affects you if you and your family reside and are physically present in South Africa. Those who are not physically present are non-South African tax residents. Most people have been of the mindset that financial emigration equals tax emigration, but that’s not the case. Of course, it does not mean that there are no benefits to financial emigration. After all, you will enjoy the opportunity to easily access and transfer South African funds if you live abroad, you will have access to your retirement annuities before maturity date, and you will enjoy far simpler remittance processes for SA source inheritances. SARS released a very useful Q&A on the latest 2020 changes to expat tax which you can read here. It’s not just about what happened in 2019 in SA, but how what happened will positively impact on 2020 and the future too.

Last Word

It seems that 2019 has been a busy and fruitful year for South Africa. It’s easy to reflect on the year gone by and see the outstanding events of the past year for what they are: undeniable progress. While change and progress are afoot, it can only be hoped that even more positive change can be expected and seen in action in 2020. May the highlights of 2019 for South Africa be only a precursor to the exceptional positive improvements to be seen in the country in 2020!

FinGlobal: Financial Emigration Specialists

At FinGlobal, we provide premier financial emigration and tax emigration guidance and advice to South Africans globally. With a decade of experience behind us, we are a reliable source for all your financial and tax emigration concerns. If you need assistance with your financial needs, contact us today – give us a call or send us an email and our team will be able to further assist you. We will ensure that your emigration transition is easier for you and your family.