Oct 1, 2018

Relief then recession in South Africa

Photo: Ramaphosa, with Mandela looking on (in mural form). Photo: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to revive Africa's second-largest economy aren't off to a propitious start.

The latest: The country has now entered into recession for the first time in nearly a decade, and Ramaphosa's remedies are limited by the fact that his fantastically corrupt predecessor left a bare cupboard behind. Emigration is on the rise. Foreign investment isn't.

  • Ramaphosa's message since taking office in February has been that the bad old days are over. However, no corrupt officials have been jailed, and many remain in government.

Asked about that last week by Foreign Policy's Jonathan Tepperman, Ramaphosa said prosecutions "will definitely come." He asked for patience and added, "Because we’re not on a slide downward; we’re on a climb upward."

  • On land redistribution, a topic which sparked a recent feud with President Trump, Ramaphosa said South Africa had learned from Zimbabwe's example: "First, we’re not going to allow land grabs. Second, we’re not going to allow land to be redistributed to elites, to party hacks."
  • On the South Africa-U.S. relationship he said: "Despite what has been tweeted in the past, the relationship has not been negatively affected. But we would like to have it strengthened."
  • Ramaphosa rejected the idea that China's investments in Africa represented "a new colonialism," adding: "I come from the school that says you should be able to use other people’s money to make money. But you should also know that it doesn’t come for free."

Go deeper (NYT): South Africa’s Leaders Are Killing One Another.

Go deeper