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Why I still believe in ‘Ramaphoria’ and the New Dawn

It would be foolhardy to expect quick fixes in restoring SA to its glory days after the ruinous Jacob Zuma years.
Ramaphosa needs to build a capable state from scratch while also dealing with the unenviable messes he inherited. Picture: Kopano Tlape, GCIS

Talk to several professionals in business and politics, and a common narrative is doing the rounds. ‘Ramaphoria’ and the New Dawn, they say, has waned as the sobering reality of South Africa’s increasing economic malaise has set in.

In brief, ‘Ramaphoria’ was the wave of positive sentiment unlocked by Cyril Ramaphosa’s election in February as president of the country after nine years of corruption and severe economic and moral decline under Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa’s arrival unleashed a social contract dubbed the New Dawn, a roadmap for reviving a broken economy, tackling unemployment, promoting good governance and flushing out corruption.

Although the New Dawn has only been in action for four months, many have ruled it out, along with ‘Ramaphoria’. Like smoke, the New Dawn has evaporated into nothingness, writes one Moneyweb columnist. 

Pay attention to the intense news cycle, and it may feel like SA is regressing. But progress has been made despite the New Dawn being in its infancy. After all, it hasn’t quite received the chance to gain momentum across various state organs. The role of business and society in it remains a mystery.

Foolhardy to expect quick fixes

Ramaphosa inherited a state that had lost the credibility to govern. It will take time to build a capable state from scratch and for economic and socio-economic indicators to reflect reforms. Instead of being a crafty president, Ramaphosa has been distracted by the unenviable task of cleaning up the state.

Persistent structural problems engineered by the governing ANC have also heightened worries about the current state of affairs.

At a time when SA should be taking advantage of the global economic recovery, domestic growth of 1.5% has been pencilled in by the National Treasury. Unemployment sits stubbornly at 26.7% (first quarter of 2018) and 52.4% among the young people in SA. Loss-making and debt-burdened state-owned entities Eskom and South African Airways (SAA) continue to guzzle taxes in the form of bailouts. Already placed on junk, SA’s credit rating is on thin ice.

Government is mulling policies that could potentially inhibit business investments including the Mining Charter and more amendments to the Black Economic Empowerment Codes of Good Practice. Already battling with sustained living costs, income-earners might be taxed even more to fund National Health Insurance. Virtually no day goes by without service delivery protests, a clear indication that South Africans are growing angry and desperate.

Positive moves

Despite the shopping list of challenges, Ramaphosa’s track record has so far been positive.

Ministers with strong links to the corrosive state capture project, including Lynne Brown, Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen, have been fired. So have Zuma acolytes Faith Muthambi, David Mahlobo, Bongani Bongo and Nathi Nhleko.

Board members and senior managers with close ties to the Gupta family at Eskom, SAA, SA Express, Transnet and Denel have been removed and replaced by individuals with credible pedigrees. The SABC can continue with its constitutional mandate of broadcasting without political interference after wholesale changes to its board and top management.

Commissions of inquiries that will investigate corruption and the state capture network have been set up by Rampahosa. These include the inquiry into tax administration at Sars (taking place now) and the commission of inquiry into state capture, which begins in August.

Public consultations are currently under way on government’s highly divisive proposal to expropriate land without compensation. Having recognised that land is an emotive topic, the government appointed a Constitutional Review Committee to weigh up the constitutional merits of expropriating land without compensation. Whatever the decision is on expropriating land, at least a wide and thorough consultative approach will have taken place, rather than it being an overnight decision.

Despite Bathabile Dlamini’s incompetence as the former social development minister, the payment of social grants continued uninterrupted. With Dlamini recently removed from the department, commercial banks and the South African Post Office are reporting a better working relationship with new minister Susan Shabangu. The Post Office is now primed to be the only social grants distributor by September.

These are just some of the gains delivered by the New Dawn. SA needs to give Ramaphosa a chance to prove how innovative he is in addressing structural economic and social issues. In return, Ramaphosa needs to deliver progress. 

The public’s patience for talks and promises is paper-thin.

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President Ramaphosa merely cleaned out the Zuma supporters, not the looters. He actually supports the major looters. He presided over the new Mining Charter, the Eskom wage increase, the expropriation debate and the National Health Insurance. These are acts of looting and extortion. He let major opportunities to get foreign investments pass him by. He sends his envoys to beg capitalists for investments, while at the same time he sets up structures to loot those investors.

What he will receive from foreign investors is exactly what he gives to them – many empty promises.

Its true there are some positives but Cyril is up against a formidable enemy called “the African way of doing things”. As someone who travels a lot in Africa it’s my view that in Africa, narrow self-interest always wins over big-picture thinking. African leaders will steal tax money meant for school books and hospitals without shame, as long as they can benefit. In Africa there is an absolute inability to see beyond personal enrichment and think about the collective good of the society as a whole. By contrast, the thinking in Western Europe/USA prioritises the improvement of the society as a whole. That is the main difference. If every civil servant in Africa just did what he/she is already getting paid to do, instead of doing deals/stealing on the side, then the quality of life of the population will increase drastically. If only the enormous mineral, agricultural and natural wealth of Africa was managed for the benefit of all instead of for the benefit of a select few, then poverty will disappear. If only corruption was punished instead “looking after our own” then corruption itself will disappear.

Exactly, Ubuntu only promoted when someone else is paying.

We are actually going backward. Ramaphosa speaks with a forked tongue. With the one tongue he woos investors and with the other he feuls EWC of property of it’s citizens.

To see the bright side of a dark cloud may make you feel better. The dark cloud is still there.
Oaktree sums it up rather well.
You cannot have a better South Africa by lambasting and denigrating a part of the population – ask all those who lived on the wrong side of apartheid.
Do not keep making the same mistake in the new South Africa.

“Foolhardy to expect quick fixes”…. This is a defeatist statement. An uneducated Zuma took nine years to destroy what the reconciliatory Mandela and the highly educated economics scholar Mbeki built in 15 years. for the educated and business connected Ramaphosa, quick fixes should be a walk in the park, like taking candy from a baby (Zuma)as he did at Nasrec in December 2017. The only problem is…. Are you not tainted sir?…. did you not benefit in those Zuma years of corruption?… if you are clean your broom with which you sweep should work as if connected to an Eskom turbine dedicated only to that exercise, but if you are tainted we must forget any results from your promised new dawn….

Mostly agree with you except am of the belief that Mandela and Mbeki did not build much but were just “piggybacking” on the momentum of a well oiled machine left to soon by the previous Government without a long enough hand over period!! For the “Robben Island Old Boys club” to believe they could run the biggest “entity” in Africa with no experience in governance was so shortsighted, that I for one have to lay a lot of the blame for where SA is at, on Mandela, Mbeki and the likes.It required, and requires a lot more of many different skills and culture than what SA has on offer in it’s ruling party right now to run this country!!! The present Cabinet cannot run a bath without something going wrong!!!

100% correct on the 2 Emma.

Both c u f ups.

And after Ramaphosa…David Mabuza, Ace Magashule, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma?

History is not on South Africa’s side. The slide to unsustainable socialist policies strongly mirrors what happened in most African states after independence.

if I listen to commentators, the strongest candidate for a coup take over at this moment is actually Jakob Zuma.

David Mabuza, Ace Magashule….these are NOT part of the team President Ramaphosa wanted but were assigned by the governing ANC leadership

It’s easy to blame the wobble in the SA economy on him, when Zuma was imploding it and Zuma did what he wanted irrespective of advice from his deputy or other like minded quasi individuals

The task to right the course for SA is monumental and I don’t know of a person of parliament who is willing or can. President Ramaphosa has to give it his best shot.

Being asinine with negative sentiment void of the burden at hand is blindsiding oneself

Maybe, but the question remains what happens after Ramaphosa?

The “light” of the New Dawn you are seeing is the country being set on fire by it’s own people.

Bankrupt SOE’s requiring massive financial injection! Dysfunctional municipalities. Free tertiary education. Land reforms will require fianancial assistance to the new prospective farmers. Can anyone see the end of the tunnel?

One can not underestimate what JZ and pals plus recently, Jooste\Wiese and pals have done to the political and economic reputations of South Africa. Ray Mahlaka is correct that things ARE improving…although at a snails pace. slowly slowly catchey monkey! ( ps this is not a racist comment!)

The bigger question is, How does one recover enough of a reputation to encourage investment again. And, if we did, would it be sufficient to cover the huge cost of social upliftment needed in this predominantly overpopulated and uneducated country. It’s a very very steep hill to climb, even if every South African was on board…which we are not.

We need to support the best opportunity to have a shot…and in my book, that is CR.

End of comments.

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