We'll win over sceptics in Davos - Ramaphosa

This year's WEF focus is on "mastering the fourth Industrial Revolution". (AFP)
This year's WEF focus is on "mastering the fourth Industrial Revolution". (AFP)

Johannesburg - Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said Team SA is hoping to woo investors in Davos with the message that South Africa is serious about rooting out corruption, and that renewal is taking place in the country. 

Ramaphosa will again lead South Africa’s delegation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, an annual meeting of business and political elites.

But he admitted at a pre-WEF breakfast briefing that South Africa's delegation will have to address a host of challenges to convince wary investors that the tide has turned in South Africa. 

Decisive action in tackling corruption and state capture is key to winning over sceptical investors, he said. "It is totally unacceptable that business(es) owned by the nation, set up to advance the interests of South Africans, have been hijacked and captured by certain interests," he said.

The 48th World Economic Forum annual meeting is being held from January 23 to 26 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Ramaphosa will for the second time in a row will be the face of the South African economy. 

The new ANC president said that not only his party but South Africa as a whole is "coming out of the period of uncertainty, a period of darkness, and getting into a new phase".

He said the new leadership is deadly serious about addressing corruption. "We are now seeing the steps that are being taken," he said. "It is an important feature of what we are going to do."

Ramaphosa emphasised that state-owned enterprises have to be stablised and that fixing them presents a serious challenge, one the new leadership is not shying away from.

He said South Africa requires good people on the boards of its state-owned enterprises, and top class executives to run them. 

"Where rot set in, huge calamities followed," he said.

Davos provides an important platform to market and showcase South Africa to global business and other key international stakeholders. Last year Ramaphosa partnered with then finance minister Pravin Gordhan to promote South Africa’s economy, after President Jacob Zuma withdrew at the last minute.

The South African team’s performance won much praise at the time, and at the breakfast on Thursday Ramaphosa said he believed the delegation did very well. 

"This time round there is a much better story to tell," he said. "We have a futuristic good story to tell the word. South Africa is renewing itself."

US President Donald Trump also announced last week that he planned to attend. Ramaphosa said the South African delegation so far has not had any requests to meet with the US president, but would review a request like any other it receives to see if it could fit into its schedule. 

Other speakers include Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, former Democratic vice-president Joe Biden, former British prime minister Gordon Brown and Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

The South African delegation will comprise ministers and business leaders, including Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba as the lead minister and coordinator.

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