Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan has said South Africa’s economy would survive the “political noise” after the ANC stopped short of voting out President Jacob Zuma in a national executive committee meeting this week.
Briefing media ahead of the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos in January, Gordhan said that political turmoil was not unique to South Africa.
“Political uncertainty is the new normal in the world – the question is how we deal with it. Ours, relatively speaking, is minor compared to the world trends that are developing,” he said.
After the ANC had briefed media on the outcomes of its latest NEC meeting on Tuesday, in which it was decided that Zuma would not be asked to step down, the rand fell to R14 to the US dollar.
According to Gordhan, South Africa had not only survived a year of “political noise”, but had grown stronger in spite of it. After taking aim at the media for failing to highlight the country’s milestones in economic progress, Gordhan conceded that the bad still far outweighed the good.
“The one thing that we must be very frank [about] is that those good things are not scalable. In other words, they are not at a scale level to be seen in the GDP numbers. We are very aware of that as a department,” he said.
With next year’s WEF meeting themed “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, Team South Africa, which comprises state stakeholders in the security cluster, will be tasked with joining the world discussion around combating what the WEF describes as protectionism, populism and nativism, which it said could lead to a downward spiral of the global economy if confidence in the weakened systems of governance was not restored.
“Responsible leadership,” said Gordhan, “is about integrity‚ understanding the environment in a holistic kind of way and making sure that you care about the state of your country and the state of the world as a leader in business‚ amongst trade unions and other stakeholders”.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said that the rise of populism globally – as seen in the Brexit referendum and the outcome of the US election – meant that SA needed to create more growth opportunities at home.