The national government and the African National Congress (ANC) need to reassure businesses and markets that South Africa’s reform agenda will continue, despite the political turmoil caused by the section 89 panel’s findings into president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The section 89 panel established by parliament to investigate the Ramaphosa Phala Phala farm theft scandal published its findings last week, sending shockwaves across the country’s political sphere.
The panel found prima facie evidence that the president may have contravened the country’s laws and violated the Constitution, recommending impeachment processes to follow.
After going to ground and cancelling appearances, speculation was rife that the president would resign in the wake of the findings – however, it has since been confirmed that Ramaphosa will challenge the report in court and will continue to stand for election for the ANC’s top position this month.
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) chief executive officer, Busi Mavuso said that the past few days of political scrambling has caused uncertainty in the local markets, which has left businesses in a vulnerable position.
Markets reacted negatively to the findings and political uncertainty, with the rand buckling against major currencies even when emerging market peers were rallying.
“The collapse of the rand and the value of South Africa’s traded debt last Thursday showed how concerned investors were,” she said. “It was an indication that we have not yet delivered the extent of institutional rebuilding that we need.”
What should have happened, she said, is that the political players, the national government and various institutions should have come out and made it clear that good governance is not at risk, and that the progress made in reforming South Africa and its structures would continue.
“All stakeholders in our future should be comfortable that the institutions of government and civil society are robust and capable. We should have confidence that the party and the state really are separate, that the institutions of government are not suddenly at risk because of who has political power.
“Should there be a change in political leadership, we should be comfortable that there will be a well-managed transition,” Mavuso said.
This did not happen, however.
“Unfortunately, many of us were left with the impression that the country was being put second as factions took to social media to opine on the report and its impact,” she said.
Mavuso said the section 89 report, while understandably concerning to those involved, also risks undoing the work businesses and the government have done over the last few years – work that is now being ‘held hostage’ to politicking.
“We need the political system at large to affirm how important this (work) is. We need to continue the programme of rebuilding the capable state, and professionalising the civil service to ensure it can deliver efficient services to our people.
“We need clear communications from all political leaders to signal their unwavering commitment to that objective so that confidence is not undermined,” she said.
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