For international investors SA has gone from "hero" under former President Nelson Mandela to "zero" following 10 years of bad governance, according to South African-born British peer and anti-apartheid activist Lord Peter Hain.
International investors are just not interested in SA at the moment due to a lack of confidence in the country, Hain said in his opening address at the annual conference of the SA Property Owners’ Association in Cape Town on Wednesday.
As Hain was speaking on Wednesday rating agency Moody's, in new research report, noted that SA was facing "exceptionally low business confidence". Moody's is the sole agency that has not downgraded SA's sovereign credit rating to sub-investment grade, or junk.
"Maybe SA can never get back to where it was […] and maybe there was an artificial bubble under the amazing leadership of Nelson Mandela," said Hain. "International investors were really keen after apartheid to try and support the new country and then the Zuma-era completely trashed that opportunity."
In 2018 Hain gained attention in SA as an outspoken critic in the House of Lords of Zuma, the Gupta family and British companies he said were involved in corruption linked to the SA government.
The Mandela legacy
Hain said he still sees a "way back" for SA through cleaning up government.
"SA needs to reclaim the Mandela legacy to make SA once again an example to the world. This must include the Mandela values of social justice, democracy and anti-corruption," he said, adding he supports President Cyril Ramaphosa's war on corruption.
"It cannot just be business as usual nor just government as usual as it was in the disastrous Zuma years. We all have to help Ramaphosa in his attempt to rescue SA from this mire," said Hain.
"President Ramaphosa cannot grow SA economically on his own. There is still a lot of unfinished business. Economic transformation has got to go beyond board level. If that does not happen, then there will be an increasing collision of dissatisfaction due to a lack of opportunity. At the same time, without economic growth SA will simply be redistributing poverty."
Democracy and good governance are the oxygen of economic growth and prosperity, he said.