'There is beauty in SA's economic crisis' - Ralph Mathekga

The "beauty" of SA's economic crisis is that it has brought renewed thinking by the business sector in terms of issues it would like government to tackle, says political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

"I believe the crisis we have in the economy allows business to gain ground in saying what it would like to have tackled - like crime,” Mathekga said at a business breakfast hosted by Decision Makers in Cape Town on Wednesday.

He said the business community is thinking about how to build platforms to engage directly with government and civil society.

“Ramaphosa is trying to manage a crisis, so people are expecting a lot from him. He is just trying to avoid an implosion, in my view.”

Mathekga said if Ramaphosa seems to some as though he is coming across as “strong”, they must take into account that there is likely a fight-back strategy against his leadership in the ANC at provincial level, “which is quite worrying”.

"It is crisis management for Ramaphosa. He must just try to retain the nuances of ANC policies. That is why he unfortunately comes across as someone double-talking, for instance on land reform,” said Mathekga.

“Sometimes he contradicts himself ... regarding what he told Bloomberg about farm murders. He has to appear to believe the ANC policies, but look at the nuances he brought in."

In September Ramaphosa told Bloomberg in New York that there are "no killings of… white farmers in SA". The comments came in reaction to a tweet by US President Donald Trump who tweeted about "large scale killing of farmers" and land seizures in SA.

Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa's spokesperson, reacted to criticism of Ramaphosa's statement by rejecting any notion that the president had lied. She said Ramaphosa responded to a question and did not repeat the particulars of what was asked, such as the reference to "large scale killings". 

If there is anything Ramaphosa “won” at the ANC elective conference it was the disclaimers added to certain policies, he said.

Examples would be the disclaimer of not harming food security added to the land reform policy and the disclaimer that any change at the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) must be in line with economic policies.

In Mathekga’s view, the “bad news” is that one will not be able to get policy uncertainty in SA anymore. There will always be lobbying around in Parliament, for instance on the land issue.

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