July 20, 2024

Is Ramaphosa Deserving Of A Second Term?

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In 2018, South Africa moved no inch on the CPI. It went up one notch the following year and then stagnated in 2020 and 2021, scoring 44.

FILE PHOTO: President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Presidency Budget Vote Debate on June 10, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. The President responded to a debate on his budget vote that he tabled on June 09th. PICTURE: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

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Ramaphosa has dismally failed to deliver on his promises and he is not deserving of a second term as the South African president, writes MOLIFI TSHABALALA

Just over five years ago, in February 2018 to be precise, Cyril Ramaphosa took over the reins of state power from Jacob Zuma, under whom the country, in his – Zuma’s Africa National Congress (ANC) – predecessor Thabo Mbeki‘s words, was “losing its sense of direction, and … progress(ing) towards a costly disaster of a protracted and endemic general crisis.”

Ramaphosa and some of his comrades, most notably Tito Mboweni, a former finance minister, described Zuma’s administration as “nine wasted years”.

Nevertheless, describing his as a ‘new dawn’ (albeit it represents a ‘change and continuity’ phenomenon from an intra-party factional perspective), promised to grow the economy and fight corruption in the main.

“For several years our economy has not grown at the pace [that is] needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty,” he said, delivering his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA). “Our most grave and most pressing challenge is youth unemployment.”

By then, Statistics South Africa (better known as Stats SA) had just released its Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2017, indicating that the unemployment rate had decreased by 1.0 per cent from record highs of 27.7 per cent to 26.7 per cent.

On corruption, the president described 2018 as “the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.” In 2017, the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), as released by Transparency International (TI) on 15 February 2018, South Africa scored 43 and ranked 71 out of 180 countries/territories.

The CPI ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Comparatively, South Africa had dropped by two notches, thus scoring 45.

Concluding his speech, Ramaphosa quoted a song by the late South African jazz musician and trumpeter Hugh Masekela entitled ‘Thuma Mina’ (Send Me) and received a rapturous standing ovation. Specifically, the lyrics he quoted go thus:

“I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around

When they triumph over poverty

I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS

I wanna lend a hand

I wanna be there for the alcoholic

I wanna be there for the drug addict

I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse

I wanna lend a hand

Send me.”

Having been elected for a second term as an ANC president at the party’s 55th National Conference, held in December 2022, it is thus given that Ramaphosa would also vie for a second term as the South African president. The question, therefore, arises: “Is Ramaphosa deserving of a second term?”

To answer this question, one has to look at whether he has delivered on his foregoing promises or not. Over the past five years, the unemployment rate has been on an exponential rise, shooting up from 26.7 per cent to over 30 per cent, as the economy has not been growing to create jobs and extricate millions of people from the morass of abject poverty. It stood at 32.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2023.

In 2018, South Africa moved no inch on the CPI. It went up one notch the following year and then stagnated in 2020 and 2021, scoring 44. Thereafter, it dropped by one notch, returning to its 2018 score.

Ramaphosa has lost the fight against corruption. According to an Afrobarometer survey, conducted through face-to-face interviews between May and June 2021, South Africans believe that corruption has worsened under him.

The aforementioned statistics do not lie: Ramaphosa has dismally failed to deliver on his promises. Therefore, he is not deserving of a second term as the South African president.

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