The #AmINext protests of the past two weeks were a game-changer for South Africa, writes Adriaan Basson.
Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa Saterdag in die Moses Mabhida-stadion in Durban. Foto: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA
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By presenting this smorgasbord of promises the ANC did little to create certainty for investors, which is desperately needed to create economic growth, writes Melanie Verwoerd.
fresh off a very long flight, I sat down to watch Cyril Ramaphosa deliver the
ANC's annual January 8th Statement. Despite my deep interest in politics I was quickly
bored and breakaway camera shots of ANC supporters confirmed that I wasn't the
was more or less a repeat of the ANC's election manifesto. That was no surprise
– we are after all in an election year. The problem lies in the manifesto
itself. It reads like a disjointed patchwork of dreams and unrealistic
promises. It is as if every minister and/or policy maker in the ANC imagined
what they would do if they had godlike powers to fix the country. They then
made long lists, which made it into the manifesto.
READ: ANC manifesto: More continuity than change
If the ANC
government is able to implement only a quarter of its manifesto, South Africa
would be a much better place, but that is highly unlikely.
manifesto should do two things. It should firstly inspire voters to vote for
the party and secondly give certainty to investors and financial markets in
terms of future policy directions.
manifesto does neither. The 68 pages of promises will pass most voters by. I struggled
to get through it and the average voter who has far less interest in policy
documents than I do, would most likely give up after page 4.
would have done much better if they had decided to focus on one key issue such
as jobs. They could then have focused on how they would grow the tourism
industry and in the short term create a million or more jobs – many low
skilled. They could have explained that in the mean time they would get the
basics, such as education, health and infrastructure right (and hope that voters
don't ask why they haven't done that in 25 years). That could then have been
the backdrop for also committing to creating conditions that would allow
that would not be all that the government would do after the elections, but at
least it would have grabbed people's attention.
presenting this smorgasbord of promises the ANC also did little to create
certainty for investors, which is desperately needed to create economic growth.
The issue of monopolies is one of many examples.
No one can
disagree about the importance of breaking monopolies (of course they are not
suggesting breaking up Eskom's monopoly) or the urgency of developing small
businesses, especially in the townships. But the statements are wide and vague
and will create more anxiety amongst investors, who have already been spooked by
the issue of expropriation without compensation.
many other questionable suggestions in the manifesto, one of which is the old
issue of a sovereign wealth fund. The ANC has for years been mentioning Norway
as an example, but of course Norway has massive surpluses to play with, which
we don't. It is also very difficult after recent experiences to believe that the
trade unions would agree to have their pension funds tampered with through the
suggested prescribed assets on financial institutions' fund.
The idea of
a government-owned pharmaceutical company might sound good, but if the current
state of the existing SOEs are anything to go by, that should be avoided at all
costs – unless we want to waste a few more billions.
this manifesto says more about the internal working of the ANC than what we can
expect as a country. It is clear that this patchwork manifesto is a result of Ramaphosa's
efforts to keep the multiple factions together and keep his detractors (and the
tri-partite partners) happy.
is that in order for him to finally deal with his detractors – he has to secure
a significant proportion of the popular vote for the ANC in the upcoming
election. Ramaphosa is an excellent orator. He is clever, funny, fast and
multilingual. He also has a vision which he is passionate about. The problem is
that with all the internal ANC drama, we are seeing very little of that. In
fact, he is sounding increasingly uninspiring as he lists one promise or
intention after the other in various speeches.
majority of ordinary voters the hope of change and a better life is linked to
Ramaphosa. He remains the ANC's biggest election asset. The party should
therefore stop thinking that the old strategy of listing page after page of achievements
and promises (many which have been made before) would convince voters that
there will be a "new dawn".
get some new speech writers and Ramaphosa should be set "free" to go back to
his true self. While they are at it they should perhaps also find an election
slogan that is not the same as the DA's!
- Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African Ambassador to Ireland.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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