Cape Town - South Africa’s brand reputation is going one way, and that’s downwards, says brand reputation expert Solly Moeng.
He said in an interview with Fin24 that everything came down to reputation at some level.
“We’ve seen revelations in books and articles - and also whistleblower documents - that show there is an entrenched programme to steal money from the public sector.
"Big businesses in South Africa are holding on to their money because there is political and economic uncertainty in terms of policy.
"Things will not get better while we still have the same people who have put us in this mess running the show," Moeng added.
SA Brand damage interview:
Guest: Solly Moeng
Brand reputation specialist
Moeshfieka Botha: Let’s get straight to it – how appealing is South Africa to the global financial market after everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks?
Solly Moeng: I think we are less appealing today than we were 10 -15 years ago, and it’s not going up at all. We’re heading one way, downwards!
If you look at the recent ratings outcomes, Moody’s is coming up in February. It’s not better than it was the previous time, so it’s actually worse and these ratings agencies are not acting for themselves – the entire world of investors rely on what they say, to decide where they put their money.
So as long as they get negative, you must know that the outlook for South Africa is not good at all. Something is happening in South Africa that didn’t happened before.
People are asking questions of South Africa they never used to ask 10-15 years ago.
M: It seems to not only be the negative downgrade, it seems the whole tone, the whole sense of uncertainty within the financial sector from the fees must fall, to wanting fees paid for everyone across the board, then to Eskom and the downgrades.
There seems to just be a spectrum of financial developments which are adding to the negative brand.
S: Everything comes down to reputation at some level.
If you look at SARS for instance, there was a time when SARS used to reach its targets and surpass its targets. It’s not collecting that money anymore.
People are less willing to put their money into SARS. They know that they have legally the obligation to do so, but I think that more and more people are trying and actively looking at ways to pay as little as possible to SARS, while staying within the ambit of the law.
Those who can move their businesses out of the country, they are doing so – and with SARS being impacted like that, it all come to – we don’t trust them anymore. We don’t trust this government to take our money and use it for what it promised to use it for.
We’ve seen revelations in books and articles – and also whistleblower documents - that have come out that there is an entrenched program to steal money from the public sector.
Money that is supposed to be used to lighten the burden of poor South Africans making this a better country.
So it makes sense that people are saying to themselves, why should we give more money to a government that is stealing it?
The investor market is beginning to say, can we trust that things will happen in that country that we never thought would happen before.
Big business in South Africa – we’ve heard that how many of them are holding on to billions of rand. And I know that people are holding on to money – not because they don’t want to invest in this market in order to stimulate economic activity. They are holding onto their money because there is political and economic uncertainty in terms of policy and those things.
As long as there is not stability at all – I do not see things getting better. And things will not get better while we still have the same people who have put us in this mess, running the show.
M: How do you see the outcome of the ANC elective conference affecting the South African brand, particularly on the financial front?
S: In politics they say, it’s always a choice of the least of the devils vying for the leadership positions. And we look at which one of them we would rather live with.
And going from what a lot of people are saying, I think Cyril Ramaphosa might be a better leader. If he wins, there might be the chance that he will drop the nuclear programme. I don’t see him putting that at the top of his priority list.
A lot of people are pushing for that further to be dropped, and I think that a lot of the markets both at home and abroad will begin to look at South Africa as possibly going to make a turnaround to the positive.
If NDZ, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wins on the other hand – she‘s been very clear about her push for radical economic development.
She’s clearly in the Zuma camp and the Zuma camp is not what we want for South Africa. If she wins, it means that there is going to be in some way, a continuation of Zuma – it means that all the noises that we have been making, all the cries we’ve been hearing in South Africa will continue to be ignored by her, and whoever is going to be working with her, because Zuma will continue to be in power by remote control if she takes over.
So we should hope that somebody who might have a different take on things wins in three weeks’ time and that that somebody is not NDZ.
M: Do you think Zuma will still be in power by remote control if NDZ wins?
S: Definitely, look Zuma is not a fool. You’ve see this many times. The two things he thrives on is being underestimated – and he also thrives on playing the victim.
Look, we know what’s at stake for him. What’s at stake for him is having to account for state capture – and every single piece of information that’s come out up to now, links back to Zuma.
The recent books that have come out, especially The President's Keepers – none of that information has been denied to be true. And that is shocking, fearsome information. He doesn’t want to see the inside of a jail again, this time for criminal reasons – so he knows that the only person who can defend him is his ex-wife.
There’s no way that he would have trusted her to succeed him, if he wasn’t sure that his own security would be secured. So there is no way way that he would appoint somebody who is not sure to support him, to make sure that he doesn’t go to jail.
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