Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: SARAH PABST/BLOOMERG
Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: SARAH PABST/BLOOMERG

Finance minister Tito Mboweni will be having a tough, if not impossible, job trying to market SA at Davos. Anyone wishing to understand why could do worse than to note the remarks delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa after the ANC’s recent lekgotla.

Read closely, there is scant indication of anything on the way to address either the structural impediments or the myriad counterproductive policies that have brought us to the current malaise.

Much has been made of Ramaphosa’s pledge to refrain from interfering in the “operational” matters of state-owned enterprises (SOEs); but “strategic” matters reportedly remain fair game. That’s a lot of latitude.

Employees at SOEs will be “fit for purpose” and a “capable” state is to be pursued. Both of which are somewhat undermined by the continuation of the party’s counter-constitutional practice of cadre deployment. As if to underline this, the president specifically greeted “deployed cadres”.

Interestingly, according to an unnamed ANC source quoted in the media last year, André de Ruyter’s appointment as Eskom CEO was approved by the party’s “deployment committee”, something the latter body would have had no business being involved in.

Expropriation without compensation is to be pursued. Current BEE “processes” are to be “strengthened”. They will remain barriers to investment, both local and foreign.

In other words, there is little to suppose anything other than more of the same, perhaps with the vain (and overly desperate) hope that it will start working differently.

But as Mboweni has said: “Hope is good but it is not a strategy.” No doubt he would like to speak to his global audience of the imminence of far-reaching reforms, and SA’s innovative thinking to meet the challenges before it. The president and his party offer little to back this.

Terence Corrigan
Institute of Race Relations

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