Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in Davos, Switzerland on 22 January as part of a “broader effort to restore confidence in the economy” – this is according to a statement released by the Presidency late Monday.
The South African Deputy president is leading a delegation comprising senior government, business and labour actors to the World Economic Forum, in hopes to woo investors and influential South Africa watchers at the annual meeting, which is scheduled to be held on 23 to 26 January 2018.
Ramaphosa, who was elected as the African National Congress (ANC) president in December 2017, has been on concerted drive to boost investor confidence, and improve fiscal management and good governance in the South African government, especially its state-owned enterprises. Just this past Saturday, 20 January, Ramaphosa announced a new Board of directors at Eskom, the beleaguered state-owned energy entity at the center of South Africa’s state capture phenomenon. Ramaphosa says the move is “part of an ongoing broader effort to restore confidence in the economy”, possibly signaling to investors at Davos that South Africa is “open for business.”
Rampahosa will probably be met with level of caution and a “wait and see” approach by investors both in Davos and beyond. He might be the new president of the ANC, but currently has limitations to how much he can do to restore confidence in the South African economy. Jacob Zuma, whose two terms in office have been characterised by economic decline, corruption and policy uncertainty, remains president of South Africa, at least until the 2019 elections, or early removal/recall if an agreement can be found with the various factions in the ANC. Equally, Ramaphosa’s own position in the ANC is not fully consolidated, as his victory in December 2017, is de facto, a coalition between two rival camps and views in the ANC – whose daily functioning is reliant on bargaining and at times wavering commitment to party unity – which invariably stymies the full implementation of his envisaged agenda.
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