President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

Bruce Whitfield, in "The Quantum of Progress" (On My Mind, July 5), is hopeful that SA has taken a turn for the better under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

He points to various steps taken over the past few months that indicate such reformation: former president Jacob Zuma going to jail, the private sector getting permission to generate some of its own power, and the ports being streamlined.

While optimism is always crucial, it must be informed by reality, not fantasy. We cannot allow our emotional need for things to be OK to blind us to what is really happening in SA.

None of these apparent reforms compares in scale with the disasters the very same Ramaphosa administration is actively and eagerly engaged in. Despite research showing lockdowns don’t make a significant difference in the spread of Covid, the government has decided to impose another hard lockdown, kicking the struggling business community while it’s down.

The government is steaming ahead with its plans to constitutionalise property confiscation (so-called expropriation without compensation), even going as far as to open the door to nationalisation (so-called custodianship).

Finally, the administration is ramping up a disastrous racial economic policy. The government continues to make it difficult for domestic and foreign investors to make their own informed decisions about their enterprises, instead dictating racial outcomes that at the end of the day lead to disinvestment.

Any one of these policy directions alone could tank what is left of our economy. But Ramaphosa and his cabinet have steamed ahead.

The small reforms they have made will be of no use to an economy with insufficient property rights and commercial freedom, saddled with red tape and official interference. That is, if the economy survives the lockdown at all.

Martin van Staden

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