The #RamaTracker – following up on presidential economic promises


President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address has been almost universally lampooned for his dream of bullet trains and building a smart city – but in between his Wakanda moments, Ramaphosa has outlined a set of firm and trackable promises. 

One of South Africa’s significant impediments is the ability to diagnose and plan solutions to problems but never to achieve them.

In the #RamaTracker series, Fin24 will follow up on how the Ramaphosa administration is doing at implementation.

We started in 2018, tracking the execution of the president's economic stimulus plan announced in October. It showed a dismal track record of getting things done and the proof was in the pudding: growth declined significantly in the first quarter and the needle on unemployment is not moving significantly.

Going forward, Fin24 will track the seven big picture imperatives that Ramaphosa outlined in his speech last week. These are:

·       Economic transformation and job creation;

·       Education, skills and health;

·       The social wage – reliable quality basic services;

·       Spatial integration, local government and housing (or what government calls human settlements);

·       Social cohesion and safer communities (or what we call crime-fighting);

·       Building a capable, ethical and developmental state (or what we call our 1.3 million civil servants doing their jobs without corruption);

·       A better Africa and world (or how South Africa’s foreign policy is developing).

Over the next five years (Ramaphosa’s first term), he should be annually tracked on the following pledges:

·       No person should go hungry;

·       An economy growing faster than the rate of population (the latter is currently at just over 1% a year);

·       Two million more young people having jobs;

·       10-year-olds being able to read for meaning;

·       Violent crime being halved.

On specific short-term pledges, Fin24 will report regularly on the following:

·       Appointing a CEO and CRO (chief restructuring officer) for Eskom;

·       Master-plans for clothing and textiles; gas; chemicals and plastics; renewable energies; steel and metals fabrication (based on the success of automotive sector);

·       Doubling tourist arrivals to 21 million by 2030;

·       Establishing a "world-class" visa regime by October;

·       Establishing the National Health Initiative Fund structure;

·       Policy directive for spectrum licencing process by July 20;

·       Private sector investing R840bn in 43 projects over 19 sectors to create 155 000 jobs in the next five years;

·       In turn, government removing impediments and accelerating the implementation of said 43 projects;

·       Being at the forefront of green growth, low-carbon industrialisation – "taking quantum leaps towards the economy of the future";

·       Finalisation of a land reform programme;

·       An R100bn infrastructure fund;

·       No company having to wait more than six months for a permit or licence.

 Fin24’s attempts to follow up on the stimulus plan announced by Ramaphosa in October last year have been difficult. The Presidency is not responsive about follow-ups and appears to prefer announcements.

Secondly, coordination and communication were problems. After the first announcement, Ramaphosa did not report back to his nation or explain why what he called short-term stimulus measures were not doing the trick. This suggests that while there was a whole Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (it has subsequently been scrapped), there was not significant tracking happening to ensure that the announced stimulus plan was having the impact required.

If the President’s state of the nation is to have any meaning and to secure the trust of the country, then regular report-backs are important, or he will replicate the era of former president Jacob Zuma, who made announcements of big plans almost every year but failed on almost every single one.  

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