Ramaphosa – What Has He Done So Far?

South Africa’s new dawn broke across the horizon a little over three months ago. Cyril Ramaphosa replaced the captured, corrupt Jacob Zuma as the President of the Republic, sworn in on the 15th of February.

He hit the ground running, and he had to. He inherited a sinking ship.

On the very day of his swearing in as the President of South Africa, Ramaphosa made his stance on the Gupta family known. The Hawks raided numerous properties belonging to the family and their identified associates. Seven people related to the Gupta networks appeared in court related to the Estina dairy project. A warrant of arrest has been issued for Ajay Gupta.

We knew, immediately, that the new man in charge meant business.

Since taking the helm, Ramaphosa has focused on turning South Africa’s nosediving economy around and fixing issues within the government. Some of it has worked, some of it has been a bit of a swing and a miss – and some of it is still unfolding.

We took a look at what Ramaphosa has done since his inauguration.

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Ramaphosa Takes Out The Trash

Barely two weeks had gone by before Ramaphosa reshuffled his cabinet of ministers. The likes of Faith Muthambi, Bongani Bongo, Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, Lynne Brown and David Mahlobo all got the axe. The hopelessly incompetent Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, was also moved over to the Home Affairs portfolio. To everybody’s relief, Nhlanhla Nene was brought back to replace him.

Though there are still some problems in the cabinet, and some problematic ministers, things are admittedly looking better. Many were overjoyed at the return of Pravin Gordhan – a sure sign that Ramaphosa was willing to oppose state capture and corruption.

The new man in charge isn’t afraid to ring changes. Before he’d even taken his chair at the Union Buildings, he had forced Zuma to implement a savvy new board at the beleaguered parastatal money-drain, Eskom. For a little while there, he was the president before he even became the president.

A short while after the cabinet reshuffle, Ramaphosa also sought to clean up the country’s intelligence services. State Security Agency head, Arthur Fraser, was shuffled over to the Department of Correctional Services. Fraser had faced numerous allegations of mismanagement in his old post.

Last month also saw the appointment of Monhla Hlahla as chairperson of the Denel board, as Ramaphosa continues to give embattled companies a long-overdue makeover.

Now if only we could find a cupboard or something, to put Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini and Malusi Gigaba.


Prosecuting The Guilty

As the President of the ANC, Ramaphosa was instrumental in forcing Zuma into finalizing the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture. This had been delayed by Zuma for far too long. He knew it would only prove to tighten the noose.

In March, Shaun Abrahams of the National Prosecuting Authority announced the long-awaited decision to prosecute Zuma on 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering.

It wasn’t long before Ramaphosa made amendments to his predecessor’s state capture inquiry. Now, testimonies would be admissible in criminal proceedings.

Days after the NPA announcement, Ramaphosa also suspended SARS commissioner Tom Moyane – dubbed as one of Zuma’s cronies. Moyane now faces disciplinary hearings.

YES To Investment

Ramaphosa then launched the Youth Employment Service (YES) which is designed to empower the youth of South Africa through paid work experience and seed-funding.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the SA government and business, labour and civil societies. It aims to secure internships for one million young South Africans, because investment in the future of the people is, perhaps, the most important investment of all.

Things have not been easy.

Our economy has taken hit after hit for the last couple of years – followed by the revelation that our President had, in fact, been selling the country out from under us.

It was little surprise when a one percentage hike in VAT was announced during the annual budget speech. Though this has been viewed as a setback to many South Africans, little more could be done.

Ramaphosa announced an elite team tasked with travelling abroad to unlock up to $100 billion in foreign investment. This included former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, former Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree and businesswoman Phumzile Langeni.

With the attention shifted to the economy, he struck an investment deal with the UK to the tune of R850 million.

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Challenges To Come

The greatest challenges Ramaphosa is yet to face, and has been facing, will be coming from the left flanks. The dominant topic of land expropriation without compensation is a complicated one – but will be crucial to his success.

The National Assembly has passed an EFF-sponsored motion to begin the process to allow for land expropriation without compensation. It is shaping up to be a lengthy development, though, fraught with difficulties.  The ANC had previously voted against this motion. Following its national conference in December, though, the party finally voted alongside the EFF.

Furthermore, we’ve had union leader, Zwelinzima Vavi, fighting the proposals on the amount of a minimum wage.

The idea of nationalization remains popular among many people, across the board.

Then, the North-West has been placed under national administration following violent protests calling for premier Supra Mahumapelo’s resignation.  The remonstrations had brought the province to a standstill, and factional infighting may yet prove to do the same in KZN.

There is little doubt that our new president has had his hands full, but so far he seems to be up to the task. There is just over a year to go before the national elections are upon us. How much can he get done before then?

Can he repair the haemorrhaging SOEs and cut out the rot in the ANC? Will he transform the key economic drivers of South Africa – such as the strained mining sector? Can he pull off land expropriation without compensation without bringing ruin to the economy and food production?

We’ll have to wait and see if Ramaphosa can find an even higher gear.


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