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SA president Cyril Ramaphosa is deservedly receiving plaudits for his management of the Covid-19 crisis. But news of the past few days on the declining economic picture suggests it could so easily have been very different. Appreciating this reality should be the spur to there is no wasting of the opportunity every crisis brings.
In an interview yesterday UNCTAD’s Richard Bolwijn told me the UN’s data shows SA’s foreign direct investment drive is stuttering. FDI into South Africa, the UN numbers reveal, dropped 8% last year to just over $5bn – half of which was due to a corporate transaction (Mondi).
And as we all know, on Friday night Moody’s downgraded SA’s debt to junk status – an event that has been obvious since February’s Budget in which SA’s debt-to-GDP ratio was projected to soar above 70%.
These twin economic blows are now being overshadowed by a bigger challenge. But they reflect one obvious fact – the economy desperately needs an overhaul. Once the Covid-19 dust settles, that must be the priority for a newly emboldened president.
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Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.