The Economist backs Ramaphosa, warns against a 2019 Zuptoid-kamikaze approach

CAPE TOWN — One of the most globally respected financial publications, The Economist, warns that pushing for a Nkosazana-Dlamini/Zuptoid victory next weekend in order to precipitate a likely 2019 ANC electoral defeat is a dangerous argument. It says it’s a gamble based on an assumption and leaves the “what if they don’t lose?” question wide open. In a crystalline leader about South Africa’s impending Rubicon moment, the heavyweight weekly backs the reformist current Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, as the best bet for change. While it may take him a while to clean up, there’s nobody remotely close and with a real chance of winning who can start the urgent reform necessary to slowly pull us up by our bootstraps. It’s an erudite and rational reprise of where we are – and a clear signpost showing the sensible way out. – Chris Bateman

By Thulasizwe Sithole

Read The Economist’s full leader article: The choice that could save South Africa, or wreck it

One of the leader articles in this week’s edition of The Economist outlines what’s at stake for Africa’s economic powerhouse at next weekend’s ANC electoral conference; either a hereditary kleptocracy or a chance at redeeming a very auspicious 1994 start.

While it says the rainbow nation still has the potential to be a beacon of prosperity and good governance in Africa, memories of its hopeful birth are today a “melancholy counterpoint to its dark present.” The best and most pragmatic way out is for the ANC to elect Cyril Ramaphosa, ironically a top beneficiary of his own party’s policy of empowering black tycoons by encouraging the transfer of large stakes in white-owned firms.

However, the Economist draws a distinction between this shortcut to vast riches by a handful of ANC bigwigs and the outright State looting by the Zuptoids, the eradication of which Ramaphosa has built his election campaign on. Praising his consummate political skills, it says he has solid plans to boost economic growth and provide jobs and education. While his accelerated path to wealth may complicate his campaign to purge his party of rent-seeking, the article emphasises that there’s no suggestion he broke the law – in stark contrast to his opponents.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa

The article waves a big red flag to legions of more privileged South Africans. We endlessly debate the ANC kamikaze option – let a victorious Nkosazana-Zuma Zuptoid faction run the country into the ground and/or continue brazenly obvious thieving to its 2019 electoral nemesis – or pray for a Ramaphosa victory to start pulling us out of the mire right now and leave the party to heal itself. Taking the former dangerous option might put the multi-racial centrist Democratic Alliance into power, building on its governance of the country’s three most important cities. However, the hard-left Economic Freedom Fighters, who might be worse than the current ruling faction of the ANC, are also gaining ground, the article warns.

Ramaphosa represents the best chance for recovering the optimism we all felt in 1994 and the first few years thereafter. South Africans deserve better than letting Ms Dlamini-Zuma cement the Zuma clan’s grip on the levers of power. The article begins by dramatically counterpointing they physical symbolism of our Constitutional Court with how far we’ve fallen from the ideals we embraced upon being reborn after apartheid.

It also illustrates South Africa’s strength as a continental economic hub, previously backed by its diplomatic and moral authority, saying Robert Mugabe would have lost power long ago without South Africa’s support. Imagine being typified as the site of the most visible battle in the world between good and bad government? That’s how the Economist describes us. The winner’s podium awaits.