🔒 How world sees SA: Ramaphosa’s biggest job is to clean up corruption

EDINBURGH — After the sixth democratic election, the ANC has shifted from being the party that everyone loved to a party that must clean up on corruption. The global spotlight is on Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vowed to do just that – excise the rot that set in under former president Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa’s team has said it believes that the business-savvy president saved the ANC’s skin in the polls. His victory speech has been covered by the BBC and others, which have focused on Ramaphosa promising to tackle corruption in the party “whether some people like it or not”. – Jackie Cameron

By Thulasizwe Sithole

South African business has called on Cyril Ramaphosa to step up his fight against corruption after the ANC won last week’s parliamentary elections, reports the Financial Times.

The ANC achieved its lowest ever parliamentary majority with 57.5% of the vote, reflecting voter disenchantment with a party that has presided over a decade of corruption and economic mismanagement, says the respected global newspaper.

Martin Kingston, the executive chairman of Rothschild’s South African arm, is reported as saying that Ramaphosa’s performance would be under the microscope. “I don’t believe they have the luxury of any time to waste”, he said.

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The FT comments that Ramaphosa’s rise as president may have saved the ANC from losing its majority.

The trade union leader who became a wealthy businessman under the ANC is under pressure to make good on his promises, starting with a cabinet reshuffle expected later this month,” it reports.

A cabinet purge – which could see the number of cabinet posts cut from 36 to 25 – would be the“litmus test” for Ramaphosa, said Kingston.

Ramaphosa is likely to face intense resistance, with the ANC’s list of MPs contains several of the former president’s acolytes, many of whom face claims of wrongdoing.

Some observers think Ramaphosa will not succeed in changing the face of the ANC. “Can he pry a few more of the Zuma-era ministers out [and] get a few more reasonable people around the table. Given the power balance within the party, I am not optimistic,”  John Ashbourne, a senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, told the FT.

Fitch Ratings, which slashed South Africa’s credit rating to junk during Mr Zuma’s rule, has reportedly said that “a major economic policy shift is unlikely” after the elections.

“The biggest economic problem in Mr Ramaphosa’s in-tray is Eskom, the near-bankrupt state electricity monopoly, which bore the brunt of graft under Mr Zuma. Severe blackouts at Eskom were stemmed during the elections but the ANC must still complete a multibillion-dollar bailout and restructuring of the utility’s operations,” says the FT.

“Unless and until we fix Eskom, everything is just a waste of time… the biggest risk facing the economy is that of Eskom,” Busisiwe Mavuso, chief operating officer of Business Leadership South Africa, a representative body, told local media.

The FT tells how the ANC’s liberal main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, failed to make headway with a share of less than 21% of the vote.

“But there was a breakthrough for the Economic Freedom Fighters, a populist breakaway from the ANC led by Julius Malema. The party, which advocates the radical nationalisation of mines and land, won just over 10% and increased its seats in parliament from 25 to 44.”

In provincial elections held at the same time, the ANC barely retained control of Gauteng, the country’s most populous and industrially important region, says the FT.