The president’s 100th day in office was marked by Ramaphoria. You would think we were in wonderland. Analysts bombarded us with lists of Cyril Ramaphosa’s apparent achievements.
Indeed, his notion of a new dawn is seductive. But we must be sober about the prospects. Monday’s court order, which released about R250-million worth of Gupta assets seized by the national prosecuting authority (NPA), is a reminder the Zupta camp have not given up.
Suspicion for this apparent lapse of justice falls on NPA boss Shaun Abrahams. Did he deliberately mess up, or is he incompetent, or both? Early in December, before Ramaphosa was elected ANC leader, the high court in Pretoria ruled that Abrahams must vacate his position. The Constitutional Court has yet to rule on that matter.
However, the point here is that a new dawn requires a new prosecutions boss. Ramaphosa had enough ammunition to suspend Abrahams. If he had done so, the Guptas would have been less likely to score this immoral victory.
Ramaphosa is, in fact, a long way from clearing the decks in state organisations and within the ANC. For example, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe is implicated in a tender scandal in North West. Yet he remains a public face of the party, along with secretary-general Ace Magashule, who rivals Deputy President David Mabuza in the dodgy stakes. New dawn, same old problem – a corruption cloud in the top echelons.
Ramaphosa is powerless to act against these people because his hold on the party leadership is slender. There are still attempts by Jacob Zuma acolytes to convene an early national general council, with the express purpose of recalling Ramaphosa because of his perceived failure to implement radical economic transformation (RET).
Thus Ramaphosa, the supposed friend of business, is cowed into adopting RET rhetoric on key issues, including expropriation of land without compensation. You can’t talk like that and expect the economy to flourish. If property can be expropriated without compensation, it cannot be used as loan security. The banking system would collapse.
Thus no one should have been surprised on Friday when S&P kept their rating for South Africa’s foreign debt unchanged, below investment grade. Junk status. No Ramaphoria there. They want to see economic growth, policy certainty and business confidence.
These three criteria are incompatible with expropriation without compensation. In addition, Eskom’s precarious financial position is far from resolved. Neither is there a bold new plan for SAA, and so on.
Internationally, there is talk of another crisis for emerging markets. To ride that storm, SA will need sound economic policies, not the EFFlite stuff which Ramaphosa is preaching.
Does Ramaphosa have the vision or ability to pull SA out of low economic growth, high unemployment, poverty and crime – which has worsened under ANC misrule? No, he leads a party that abuses public trust and steals from the poor.
Lack of political courage, which kept him quiet through the Zuma years, prevents him from acting against thieves and thugs within the party. Don’t be fooled by praise singers. The shift required to uplift this country cannot come from the ANC.
Change is coming in 2019.