The first three months of Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency saw progress in cleaning up governance and building the economy, but he still has fires to put out.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has spent his first 100 days in the big office at the Union Buildings trying to deliver on promises made during his state of the nation address in February, but there is a lot left to be done.
Going forward into the next three months of his presidency, keeping in mind that elections are only a year away, Ramaphosa will have his hands full trying to quell problems in the ANC while managing the country’s affairs.
His first 100 days were marked by concerted efforts to clean up governance in his Cabinet and state institutions, fighting corruption and improving South Africa’s economic outlook. All the while, Ramaphosa would have had to keep in mind the balance of forces in his own party, and how factional infighting is playing out in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal and North West.
In some cases, Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” came swiftly. His hidden hand forced his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to finalise a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture; raids were conducted on the Guptas’ residences and businesses; a Cabinet reshuffle saw the majority of ministers accused of state capture face the axe; programmes to draw foreign investment got underway.
But other cases left a lot to be desired. Many will argue that Ramaphosa may not have the vice grip on the ANC he would like; uncertainty around how land expropriation without compensation will be rolled out has brought South Africa’s fractured racial tensions to the fore; unemployment and poverty statistics remain mostly unchanged.
Ramaphosa is no wizard; it will take time. But in the immediate future and in this reporter’s opinion, this is what the president should prioritise:
- Mining: Transformation in the mining sector, one of South Africa’s key economic drivers, has been a hot topic since former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane announced his intended changes to the Mining Charter. Talks on a new document are said to be near completion. Ramaphosa must be able to negotiate an efficient transition — one that allows for transformation that benefits grassroots communities, rather than elite cliques, without putting mining companies under insurmountable financial pressure.
- Land expropriation without compensation: Parliament adopting a motion to review clauses within the Constitution, to determine whether they need to be changed to allow for land expropriation without compensation, ignited debate in South Africa. There has not been much clarity on how the state plans to institute the bill, if and when it is passed. The president needs to explain, in detail, how government will expropriate land, whose land it will expropriate, and how it plans to do so without damaging food production or the economy. In fairness, he may be awaiting the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee before attempting to formulate policy on the process, which makes it all the more important that the committee meet its August 30 deadline.
- Downsizing Cabinet: In his maiden state of the nation address, Ramaphosa promised to review the size of his bloated administration. Whether he will be able to accomplish a task of that magnitude before the election next year remains to be seen.
- Fixing the ANC: The party’s internal battles came to a head during the build-up to its national conference last year, and continue to fester. Zuma supporters, many of whom had thrown their weight behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, were left disappointed by Ramaphosa’s victory. The dynamics of that election are playing out in North West, with calls for Supra Mahumapelo’s removal as premier — and the defiant intransigence of his faction. In KwaZulu-Natal, political killings have made headlines over the past month, as the ANC in the province gears up for its elective conference — after the results of the last one were declared invalid by the KZN High Court. Ramaphosa will have to find a way to unite both factions behind him, if the party is to prevent further losses come the general election.
- Fixing haemorrhaging SOEs: The country’s state-owned enterprises have been bleeding money, unable to turn a profit or pay back lenders in the midst of rampant corruption and state capture. Although boards have been replaced and new managers are poised to take the reins at these institutions, more proactive measures are needed for a quicker turnaround strategy. The more money used to bail out struggling SOEs, the less is available for carrying out government’s other projects.
Source: HuffingtonPost – Amil Umraw