At school, many of my report cards said that I ‘showed potential’, but that I should shut up and work, or at least let those around me do so.
Those teachers had a point.
If we had to grade Cyril Ramaphosa on his first two years in office, having taken over from ‘he who shall not be named’, I’m not so sure that the word ‘potential’ would be bandied around.
In the case of Bloomberg’s Prinesha Naidoo, Ramaphosa’s two years at the helm, having arrived with promises of a new dawn and the term ‘Ramaphoria’ ringing out around the ‘burbs, have been a rocky ride.
To start, there’s the economy:
In his first speech Ramaphosa conceded that the economy was not expanding fast enough to reduce poverty. While he didn’t set explicit growth targets, his 2017 campaign to take over the leadership of the ruling African National Congress centred on an economic recovery…
The president’s efforts to bolster growth and undo almost a decade of hollowing out of state institutions that happened under his predecessor Jacob Zuma are being hampered by internal battles in the ANC and powerful labour unions who are opposed to cuts in government spending and state jobs.
Whilst jobs clearly need to be cut at state-owned enterprises like Eskom, which has become a bloated monster that threatens the future of the country, jobs, in general, have been hard to come by.
South Africa’s unemployment rate increased since Ramaphosa took power. It’s at an 11-year high and could climb even further…
Ramaphosa has made good on commitments to put youth at the centre of his agenda with the launch of the Yes4Youth initiative, which seeks to create one million job opportunities for young people, as well as a jobs summit that aimed to create 275 000 positions a year. However, the results haven’t been forthcoming.
Idle hands make the devil’s work, and when people aren’t working…
Ramaphoria also focused largely on securing investments, especially from abroad. On this front, he is succeeding – at least by some metrics:
…his plan to raise $100 billion in five years has already reached almost 50% of its target, according to his administration.
Not all of the money pledged by companies including Sappi, BMW and Ford Motor is new and some of it will come from state institutions such as the Industrial Development Coporation.
If our president has one giant obstacle to overcome, it’s the complete mess at many of our state-owned companies.
He may have appointed Andre de Ruyter as CEO of Eskom, who has laid out a plan to try and turn things around, but a struggle lies ahead:
Plans to split Eskom into three separate units and reorganise its R454 billion debt pile are yet to be finalised. The power utility is seen as the biggest threat to South Africa’s economy because it doesn’t generate enough cash to service its debt and is surviving on government bailouts. The growing debt burden poses a threat to state finances, with guarantees for the utility that stood at R350 billion a year ago.
A turnaround plan for loss-making South African Airways, which includes the scrapping of some routes, faces opposition from government and labour unions. The carrier was placed into a local form of bankruptcy protection in December.
If Zuma and his cronies could plunder it, it was plundered.
One area where many people feel Ramaphosa has fallen woefully short is justice, and the thus far lack of it:
The commission of inquiry into state capture has been running since August 2018 to uncover the extent of corruption and Ramaphosa appointed Shamila Batohi as National Director of Public Prosecutions [NDPP] in December 2018.
However, while the president said that people found to have stolen public funds under the previous administration should be prosecuted, former State Security Minister Bongani Bongo is the only high-profile person who has been arrested.
18 months of the Zondo Commission, 18 months of damning testimony and evidence, and one arrest.
Everybody mocked previous NDPP head, Shaun Abrahams, for his inaction, but it really is high time Batohi cracked the whip.
For the final word, here’s what Bloomberg’s economists say:
“So far, pronouncements on ‘progress’ have raised more questions than answers — creating more political uncertainty. Examples include the mining charter, spectrum allocation and private electricity generation. I am expecting more of the same.
Stalled policy reform will continue to erode potential growth and global competitiveness — challenges in addressing the wage bill and underlying issues at state-owned enterprises’ will lead to continued deterioration of fiscal metrics.”
Really not the kind of a report card that you’d rush home to show your parents. In fact, you may be tempted to forge their signatures.
All of the above, of course, is filtered through the lens of Zuma’s time in charge, and the complete and utter devastation he wrought on this country.
Writing for the Daily Maverick, Richard Poplak called him “the idiot-king”, and dived into his numbers:
Unemployment during his tenure grew from 22.5% to around 28%, with youth unemployment flirting with the 50% mark. (Both are higher now — surprise surprise, his fuck ups will take generations to fix.) Since the Great Recession; the economy has grown a pathetic 1.5% year on year; electricity prices have increased 350%; public debt as a percentage of GDP ballooned from around 27% to over 53%; per capita GDP dipped from $8,066 per year in 2011 to $6,268 in 2017…
This is Zuma’s real legacy — he has left a wasteland of dead opportunity, in which South Africans must engage in a Hobbesian battle for scraps that aren’t worth the effort. He destroyed this country’s future, and he’s so useless that he didn’t even steal himself a future in return. The image he released on Twitter following the sick note debacledepicted an old man pointing a pop gun into the wilderness, his belly spilling over onto his sad dad loafers…
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA will feature Zuma in every single line, as the reformers in the ANC try to lift this country out of the pit latrine they dug at the instruction of their former boss.
It’s impossible to forget that Ramaphosa was Zuma’s deputy for many of those years, and he’s now trying to clean up the mess that he was essentially a part of creating.
A teacher might say he must try harder, and take some personal responsibility for his actions.
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