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South Africa: Watching the Ramaphosa economy

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Will South Africa’s Economy Continue to Grow under Cyril Ramaphosa?

By Tajudeen Hamzat

 

Following South Africa’s successful change of power that saw Cyril Ramaphosa elected by Parliament as that nation’s president on Thursday, there have been reports that the transition has impacted on the economy of South Africa in less than 24 hours as the nation’s stock market index rose as much as 5 percent, putting the main index on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than three years.

Former President Jacob Zuma had resigned on Wednesday night under mounting pressure from his party, the African National Congress (ANC) and the public, and this saw Ramaphosa taking over the leadership of South Africa.

By this development, Cyril Ramaphosa has become South Africa’s fifth post-apartheid president, and in his immediate post-election address, he promised to live by legacy of late Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon.

Jacob Zuma was South African president for nine years in office and was accused of politicizing and weakening some of the country’s most important public institutions.

Also Zuma was accused of being enmeshed in several corruption scandals, even as the economy slipped in and out of recession and witnessed increased unemployment numbers under his reign.

Signs of the new post-Zuma progress was also seen as the rand also soared to its firmest since early 2015 in the wake of Zuma’s exit.

Under Zuma, several seemingly negative decisions were taken on the economy, including the sack of two finance ministers, Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan. These further weakened the economy and contributed to sovereign credit ratings downgrades of the country’s ratings status to junk by the likes of the global ratings agencies, S&P and Fitch.

Notwithstanding the early politics-induced positive swings, analysts say that President Ramaphosa will have to work deeply on a broader plan to reflate an economy that has continued to witness large numbers of black South Africans who suffer to eke out a living, while living in shanty settlements even as the country’s upper class comprising whites and the new black elite) continue to grow fabulously wealthy.

Being himself one of the new black business tycoons that have emerged in the new republic, and one who accordingly therefore is expected to show a better appreciation of the workings of the national economy, the hope is that he should be able to cobble together a plan to boost the economy for the betterment of all South Africans.’

For one who has been among those who had accumulated large fortunes in the past two decades from investments in the banking, mining and insurance sectors, and building a fortune of $450 million in the process, according to a 2015 estimate by Forbes, South Africans are therefore waiting upon him to act.

On the side, Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership will also now have to decide on whether to pursue charges against Zuma for his alleged corruption scandals, though Zuma continues to insist that he is innocent. If they do not, we can trust the EFF, DA and other South African opposition parties to continue to stir dust over the issue, and the implications of this on the ANC’s chances in the 2019 parliamentary and presidential polls.

How did Nelson Mandela title that book of his? Surely, there is ‘No Easy Walk to Freedom!’

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