20 Apr

Ramaphosa Leaves London Meeting to Address South Africa Protests

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet the top leadership of the country’s ruling party to decide on the future of the premier of the North West province after clashes broke out between protesters and police in the region.

Ramaphosa will consult the African National Congress’s so-called top-six leaders about Supra Mahumapelo, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told reporters in London Friday.

The president cut short his participation in a Commonwealth leaders’ meeting in the city to return to South Africa to deal with the protests, his spokeswoman Khusela Diko said.

Demonstrators opposed to Mahumapelo and angry about a lack of service delivery set fire to buses and looted shops in the provincial capital Thursday, police said.

South Africa’s special police unit known as the Hawks said it raided Mahumapelo’s offices last month in connection with alleged maladministration, fraud and corruption amounting to about 160 million rand ($13 million).

Ramaphosa “called on all aggrieved parties to express their grievances through peaceful means and engagement rather than violence and anarchy,” Diko said in an emailed statement.

The president will also meet with provincial leaders of the ANC Friday, the party said in a separate statement. Mahumapelo is a supporter of Jacob Zuma, who Ramaphosa ousted as the nation’s president in February.

Ramaphosa has been meeting government officials and investors in London, where he unveiled his plan to attract $100 billion of investment to kick-start the economy. He has been working to convince investors that he’s committed to reversing years of economic stagnation, policy uncertainty and looting of state funds since succeeding Zuma as president two months ago.

There haven’t been fatalities linked with the protests, provincial police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone said by phone.

“We are requesting that the communities respect the rule of law and the people that are not participating in the protest,” he said. “They need not participate in actions that will lead to loss of life.” Police have arrested 23 people for looting, regional police said on their Twitter account.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-19/ramaphosa-quits-london-meeting-to-calm-south-african-protests

11 Apr

South Africa Growth Could Pick Up Faster Than Expected

South Africa’s economic growth could pick up faster than forecast if the right structural reforms are implemented, the Reserve Bank said.

That means the economy could expand faster than the 2 percent for 2020 the central bank projected last month, a rate it hasn’t exceeded since 2013.

While last year’s 1.3 percent advance beat predictions, this doesn’t equate to a good performance, the Reserve Bank said in its six-monthly Monetary Policy Review released Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria.

Cyril Ramaphosa replacing Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party and president boosted sentiment and the currency on hopes of structural reforms in Africa’s most-industrialized economy.

While Ramaphosa has since changed the cabinet to remove some Zuma appointees who were seen as compromised, overhauled the board of the state power utility and pledged to root out corruption, confidence indexes show business and investors now want to start seeing real reforms.

“The pickup in growth is not especially strong,” the central bank said. “This is mainly because, at this early stage, there is little clarity around the reform agenda and without specifics it is difficult to quantify growth responses.”

Moody’s Investors Service last month removed the threat of a junk credit rating, citing the impact of political changes. Downgrade concerns could re-emerge if narrowing the nation’s budget deficit prove harder than the markets anticipate, the Reserve Bank said.

That, and a current-account deficit that may widen more than expected, could put pressure on the rand, the bank said.

The currency has gained 9 percent since the December election of Ramaphosa as the African National Congress’s leader, helping to lower price pressures. Inflation slowed to an almost three-year low of 4 percent in February.

The central bank forecast it will remain in the target band of 3 percent to 6 percent until at least the end of 2020, stabilizing at just more than 5 percent.

While current inflation is unusually low, recent developments in services prices and expectations “provide some evidence that positive price shocks, if properly managed, can engender permanently lower inflation,” the central bank said.

To read the full article, click here.

15 Mar

Zuma Exit Spurs Revival of South Africa’s Once-Cowed Parliament

Jacob Zuma’s exit as South Africa’s president has given a new lease of life to the nation’s previously submissive parliament.

While the African National Congress used its dominance of the legislature to shield Zuma and his appointees through repeated scandals, its lawmakers have found their voice since Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as party leader in December and as president last month. Cabinet ministers and officials have been grilled over the misuse of state funds and for failing to do their jobs properly.

ANC lawmakers were reluctant to cross Zuma because he controlled the party’s leadership structures that determined whether they retained their jobs.

Zuma survived several opposition no-confidence votes, despite the nation’s top court ruling that he violated his oath of office for failing to repay taxpayer funds spent on his private home.

He was also implicated by the nation’s graft ombudsman in allowing his son’s business partners to loot state funds and influence cabinet appointments — a phenomenon known in South Africa as state capture.

Ramaphosa won control of the ANC on an anti-graft ticket after fending off a challenge from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife and preferred successor, and Zuma was forced to resign on Feb. 14.

Ramaphosa is adamant that he and his government must be held to account and state capture must be stamped out.

“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions,” he said in his first state-of-the-nation address last month.

Over recent months, ANC lawmakers have worked alongside the opposition to convene probes into state capture and summoned cabinet ministers, Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and several of his close allies to appear before them.

They’ve also hauled officials from government departments, the state broadcaster and the national tax agency before them to explain a series of management failings.

Parliamentary sittings that previously degenerated into shouting matches and brawls between members of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters and the legislature’s security officers, who were instructed to evict them when they tried to prevent Zuma from speaking, are now relatively mundane affairs.

To read the full article, click here.

06 Mar

Zuma’s Exit Sparks Shifting Political Alliances in South Africa

Jacob Zuma’s forced resignation as South Africa’s president did more than revive confidence in the ruling African National Congress. It’s deepened divisions between the two main opposition parties, threatening their control of the nation’s key cities.

Together with the ANC’s shift to support expropriation of land without compensation, Zuma’s replacement by Cyril Ramaphosa has thawed its relations with the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The party hounded Zuma over allegations of graft and advocates the seizure of white-owned farms, banks and mines.

That’s increasingly isolated the Democratic Alliance, the second-largest party which took power in Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital, in a municipal vote in 2016 by forming a loose coalition with EFF.

As that arrangement frays, its chances of pushing the ANC below 50 percent of the vote in general elections next year are fading.

“The ANC and EFF will probably contest the 2019 national elections separately to maximize their share of the total vote, but are then likely to join up in some or other new format,” said Frans Cronje, chief executive officer of the South African Institute of Race Relations. “The EFF will hand the cities back to the ANC in exchange for senior leadership roles.”

That would mark a dramatic change in the political landscape. The EFF was founded in 2013 by former ANC youth wing leader, Julius Malema after the ruling party expelled him for criticizing Zuma and sowing divisions within its ranks. It won 6 percent of the national vote in the last national elections in 2014.

He and his fellow lawmakers, who wear red berets, coveralls and maid’s uniforms in parliament, have been a thorn in the side of the ANC as they castigated Zuma for a succession of scandals and pressed the government to ensure that the black majority received a greater shape of the nation’s wealth.

To read the full article, click here.

27 Feb

Nhlanhla Nene Makes Comeback as South African Finance Chief

South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, made sweeping changes to the cabinet, bringing Nhlanhla Nene back as finance minister more than two years after his late-night firing rocked the rand.

The reshuffle announced Monday by Ramaphosa in the capital, Pretoria, marked a dramatic comeback for Nene, who was dismissed by former President Jacob Zuma in December 2015. David Mabuza, the deputy leader of the African National Congress, will become deputy president.

The shakeup came 11 days after Ramaphosa was elected president in place of Zuma, who was forced to resign under pressure from the ANC.

“These changes are intended to ensure that national government is better equipped to implement the mandate of this administration,” Ramaphosa said. “I have been conscious of the need to balance continuity and stability with the need for renewal, economic recovery and accelerated transformation.”

Nene served as deputy finance minister before taking over the post of finance chief from Pravin Gordhan in 2014 and won the respect of investors before his firing. Since then he’s taken up a position on the board of fund manager Allan Gray, become an adviser to Thebe Investment and served as temporary head of the University of Witwatersrand’s Business School.

Nene will spearhead efforts to revive an economy that only grew about 1 percent last year, drive down a 27 percent unemployment rate and rebuild investor confidence that was badly damaged during Zuma’s scandal-marred nine-year tenure.

“It’s quite a tall order,” Nene said by phone after the announcement. “I feel it’s time we all rolled up our sleeves, and I trust that the collective is going to give one the required support.”

The rand gained as much as 0.8 percent against the dollar on reports Nene was to be appointed, before trimming its advance. It was little changed at 11.5670 per dollar by 9:50 a.m. in Johannesburg on Tuesday. Yields on rand government bonds due in 2026 rose one basis point to 8.03 percent.

To read the full article, click here.

06 Feb

Zuma’s Future Is in the Hands of South African Ruling Party’s Top Body

South African President Jacob Zuma’s future is in the hands of the ruling African National Congress’s highest body after he defied calls by top leaders to resign.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee will hold a special meeting Wednesday to discuss the transition from Zuma’s administration to one headed by the new party leadership elected in December and headed by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the party said in a statement on Monday.

Zuma, who’s due to deliver the state-of-the-nation address on Thursday, defied calls by the top six leaders to resign at a meeting on Sunday, according to five senior party officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Zuma’s response to the leaders was discussed at a meeting of the ANC’s 26-member National Working Committee on Monday, which decided to refer it to the NEC, the party said.

Two senior party officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said the party’s top decision-making body would decide at its meeting in Cape Town whether to force Zuma from office.

“This is the beginning of the end for Zuma,” said Theo Venter, a political analyst at North-West University’s business school in Potchefstroom, west of Johannesburg. “He has used up all his options. It remains in doubt whether he will deliver the state-of-the-nation address.”

While Zuma is due to step down in mid-2019, his nine-year tenure has been marred by a series of scandals and policy missteps. Critics say if he remains in office, the party could lose the electoral majority it has enjoyed since it took power under Nelson Mandela in the first multiracial elections in 1994.

The divisions Zuma’s leadership has exposed within the ANC were evident outside the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Monday, where the president’s supporters and opponents staged rival protests amid a strong police presence.

 

To read the full article, click here. 

11 Jan

South Africa’s Zuma Retains Office as Ramaphosa Bides His Time

Jacob Zuma remains South Africa’s president for the time being as the new leader of the African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, plans how to bring an end to his scandal-ridden administration without unleashing a major split in the ruling party.

The ANC’s National Executive Committee didn’t discuss the option of forcing Zuma from office at a meeting Wednesday in the southern city of East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier in the week, three of the NEC’s 86 voting members, who also asked not to be identified, said the matter would be raised.

Ramaphosa, 65, must strike a delicate balance between assuaging the concerns of Zuma supporters and meeting the desire of his own backers for the president’s quick removal. A lack of support from a clear majority in the NEC will limit his scope to convince voters before 2019 elections that he can rebuild the battered economy and clamp down on the alleged graft that’s become synonymous with the Zuma era.

“For Ramaphosa to build on the momentum of his ascendancy to ANC president and boost investor confidence, he will only have a relatively short window to remove Zuma,” said Mike Davies, the founder of political-advisory company Kigoda Consulting. “After that, the Zuma camp will be able to consolidate, and other factors will start to erode recent optimism that his election means significant change.”

Ramaphosa, the nation’s deputy president, was elected ANC leader by a narrow margin last month, warding off a challenge from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife and favored successor. A former labor-union activist, businessman and lead negotiator in talks to end apartheid in the 1990s, Ramaphosa may be playing a long game in his bid to remove Zuma.

He could allow Zuma to remain in office while he acts as an effective chief executive, building up support in the party by engineering a comprehensive cabinet reshuffle, while allowing legal cases to catch up with Zuma before removing him in six to nine months, according to Robert Schrire, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town.

To read the full article, click here.

10 Jan

Who’s in Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet? Alleged leaked list shows his choices

A document shared only by ANC insiders has found its way into public circulation this week. It reveals Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet choices and preferred ministers. It is fair to say the changes would be sweeping, and perhaps even progressive.

As reported by Donwald Pressly of the Cape Messenger, and shared with BizNews.com, the extensive list offers a real glimpse into a changing future for the ruling party.

In fact, Ramaphosa has more freedom in appointing his cabinet members than Zuma has ever had. The 2007 resolution that only made it possible to appoint ANC NEC members in top positions has since been scrapped. This means Cyril is now at liberty to appoint who he wants, and yes, that does include anti-Zuma figures.

Pravin Gordhan could return to government

Returns have been touted for Pravin Gordhan, Derek Hanekom and Blade Nzimande. Gordhan would be back as the Public Enterprises Minister, ousting Lynne Brown. Hanekom is set for a comeback in his beloved Tourism post. Nzimande would regain his Higher Education post, just months after falling victim to Zuma’s axe.

Ramaphosa is not constrained by the divisions in the party. At least, that’s what this so-called ‘leaked list’ tells us. It seems he is not preparing for life with Zuma, but life after Zuma. JZ remains the Head of State, despite stepping down from the ANC Presidency. This is something Cyril is keen resolve imminently.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet could feature Zuma’s critics

Mondli Gungubela, Bheki Cele and Lindiwe Sisulu are all expected to serve a role in the higher echelons of Ramaphosa’s ANC. This trio are arguably the biggest internal critics of Jacob Zuma, with the exception of Makhosi Khoza before her departure.

Gungubela openly stated he would be voting against Jacob Zuma in the motion of no confidence last August. His seat at the table would be as the Co-operative Governance Minister. Cele, a vocal opponent of the Guptas and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, could be the next State Security Minister if this list is true.

To read the full article, click here.