Ramaphosa victory not much cause for celebration

Given his commitment to long-standing ANC policy, Mr Ramaphosa’s victory buys time, but is generally not much cause for celebration. This is the view of AfriBusiness in the wake of the ANC’s 54th conference.

“Despite being the anti-Zuma favourite, the ANC under Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and the new ANC top six is likely to be just as damaging to the economy as under his predecessor, though on a somewhat longer timescale. His election simply has the benefit of offering organised business and civil society more time to develop effective countermeasures and alternative visions for cooperation and prosperity,”, says Piet le Roux, CEO of AfriBusiness.

“Mr Ramaphosa has won the position of ANC president on the back of a backlash against Mr Zuma’s personal enrichment and relationship with the Guptas. Deplorable as they are, these scandals of the state being ‘captured’ are not what lie at the root of South Africa’s economic and social malaise. In fact, they regrettably divert attention from how the state is capturing the economy and society,” Le Roux continues.

Le Roux is sceptical of both Mr Ramaphosa’s willingness and ability to turn away from long-standing ANC positions, including those that have personally enriched him possibly far more than it has Mr Zuma: “Mr Ramaphosa remains committed to the economic and social interventionism of the ANC, including Radical Economic Transformation. And he does so from a position of great wealth gained in large part through BEE-related deals. In fact, Mr Ramaphosa, who led the BEE Commission in the early 2000’s, laid the groundwork for one of the most harmful government programmes currently in place in South Africa.”

Le Roux points to Mr Ramaphosa’s ANC Today article of earlier this year (27/06/2017), in which he approvingly wrote: “Radical economic transformation is therefore not a break with existing policy. It does not represent a new, uncertain path. Radical economic transformation indicates a new phase of accelerated implementation of the long-standing economic policy positions of the ANC and government.”

Given an ANC led by Mr Ramaphosa, AfriBusiness will welcome improvement but in the meantime stay its course, says Le Roux: “We shall remain committed in our efforts to support charitable initiatives in civil society, advocate for free markets, provide our members with a competitive advantage, and ultimately make business state-proof.”

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