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Markets get ready for Ramaphoria 2.0, but what will Cyril do with all that power?

Apr 12 2019 10:31
Lameez Omarjee, Fin24

Another win for the ANC in the upcoming national elections will be welcomed by international investors and big business, ringing in Ramaphoria 2.0, an economist said.

Speaking at S&P's Global Annual South Africa Conference in Cape Town on Thursday, chief economist at the Bureau for Economic Research Hugo Pienaar shared views on what a win for Ramaphosa would mean for the economy.

According to Pienaar if the ANC does well in the national elections, investors will view this as the solidifying of Ramaphosa's position. With a stronger mandate, Ramaphosa would likely push through reforms.

"If it does happen that the ANC gets close to 60% in election, we can have Ramaphoria 2.0 play out. It will be welcomed by investors and we can see business confidence pick up," he said.

But the question is whether real reform will follow, Pienaar suggested that in some cases foreign investors place too much faith in what Ramaphosa can achieve.

Ramaphosa could be a "good candidate" drilling down on corruption, but he needs to take a tougher stance on hard things like labour relations, for example, he explained. "Corruption busting is fantastic, but it does not give growth," Pienaar said.

Nic Borain, senior political analyst on sub-Saharan Africa at BNP Paribas, shared views that Ramaphosa's anti-corruption reform agenda is not identical to a structural economic reform agenda.

"Markets expect Ramaphosa to come in. It does not translate automatically that Cyril will be able to transform the economy so we can get growth in the next two years," he said.

If Ramaphosa pulls in together a new, technocractic Cabinet, instead of a compromised Cabinet then markets would view this as real change, Borain said.

Borain does not believe that the ANC would make plans to oust Ramaphosa after elections.

"The ANC's constitution does not allow for the recall of the president or any of the top six leaders, outside of the national conference," he said. The next national conference is in 2022. But if they want to get rid of Ramaphosa before 2022, the ANC could bring forward the national conference. Borain does not see this happening.

"[Ramaphosa] built up a currency that has significant value. The point is he has to spend currency. When he starts spending currency, the fight starts.

"[Ramaphosa will spend his currency after the election and after he has appointed Cabinet. I think they (ANC) will fail to get rid of Cyril," Borain said.

s&p  |  voting  |  elections  |  sa economy
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