BRAND NEW SOUTH AFRICA
Ramaphosa gives SA ambassadors a better story to sell
There’ll be no more ducking and diving to explain the unexplainable, President Cyril Ramaphosa promises.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africa’s ambassadors that his government is working hard to generate “a really good narrative” about South Africa to make it easier for them to sell the country to the world.
Ramaphosa acknowledged that State Capture and other misgovernance problems over the last eight to 10 years had made it hard for ambassadors to do their job properly and attract investment.
“When things are hard here, you have a difficult task,” he told the annual Heads of Mission Conference in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“We want to make your lives easier. No more ducking and diving and having to explain the unexplainable,” he told the ambassadors, to great applause.
“We must generate good messages, a really good narrative which you can broadcast to the world,” he added, outlining the steps he was taking to curb corruption.
Ramaphosa said that although South Africa had registered notable progress in the 24 years since democracy, it still grappled with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“This is our legacy from apartheid misrule. But it is also our legacy from some of the missteps that we ourselves have been involved in over the past 24 years,” he acknowledged.
“But the good thing is that we know what the legacy of the past is all about. But we’re also becoming more and more alive to what we have done in terms of our own mistakes and missteps. And our task now is to correct everything that has been done wrong in the past and what we ourselves have done wrong.”
Ramaphosa said his government was focusing on addressing structural weaknesses in the economy, including restoring public confidence in institutions to regain investor confidence.
He cited in particular the process he was undertaking to appoint a new National Director of Public Prosecutions to replace Shaun Abrahams.
“We are hoping that the appointee, one, will not be captured … truth be told, that is the last person we ever want to be captured. We want them to be as slippery from the hand of capturers as possible because they have an important role to play,” he said.
That was because corruption had become so endemic that South Africa was “almost a failing state”.
“But we are arresting that. We are turning that around. And the Zondo Commission is doing its work wonderfully and the truth of what happened in the past is beginning to come out.
“And I can assure you we are going to clean up.”
Ramaphosa said his government was focusing the clean-up on local government because that was where investors felt the most impact.
He noted that the Auditor-General had judged that the majority of local governments were dysfunctional. Yet a company which needed a lot of water was not going to invest in a municipality if the water supply was not guaranteed. A company which needed electricity was not going to invest when electricity supply was not guaranteed. And a company was not going to invest if it had to wait three years for a licence.
“We want to get our economy going following a period of stagnant growth. We must admit, in the last nine or ten years, the performance of our economy has been lacklustre.”
Ramaphosa said many heads of state he met asked why South Africa was growing at only one percent or less.
“The reasons are multifaceted and they are reasons we need to delve into. Some are globally created but some of them are our own mistakes.
“We want to regain public and investor trust, and thereby unlock private capital and promote investment.”
Ramaphosa said he was about to address a lunch of CEOs of major corporations as a prelude to his big investment conference later this week.
He said he would hold the feet of the CEOs to the fire because they had billions of rand of profits which they were not investing in the South African economy.
They had various reasons for this, which would be addressed.
But unless they invested, foreign companies would not invest either. DM