Ramaphosa con­structs big plans

The pres­i­dent in­tends to res­cue the econ­omy with in­fra­struc­ture, ac­count­abil­ity and in­vestors

Mail & Guardian - - News - Dineo Bendile

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa wants to turn South Africa into a “con­struc­tion site” as part of his am­bi­tious plan to drag the coun­try out of its cur­rent eco­nomic quag­mire and cre­ate much­needed jobs, govern­ment in­sid­ers told the Mail & Guardian.

He plans to jolt the econ­omy back to life with labour-in­ten­sive projects that will cre­ate jobs for or­di­nary South Africans and drive con­sumer spend­ing in the coun­try.

Last month, the M&G re­ported that one of the many pro­pos­als un­der the govern­ment’s con­sid­er­a­tion was to in­crease so­cial grants in or­der to stim­u­late con­sumer spend­ing.

How­ever, dur­ing his an­nounce­ment on the frame­work of govern­ment’s eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­ages last week, Ramaphosa sin­gled out in­fra­struc­ture as a key tar­get to drive eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

Ramaphosa an­nounced plans to es­tab­lish a South Africa In­fra­struc­ture Fund, to be funded partly by the fis­cus and pri­vate in­vestors.

A se­nior govern­ment leader, who did not want to be named, told the M&G this week that what­ever monies were poured into the fund by pri­vate stake­hold­ers would be in the form of in­vest­ments and not loans.

“The pres­i­dent now is push­ing to make South Africa a con­struc­tion site. He’s work­ing with a lot of fund­ing in­sti­tu­tions to build an in­fra­struc­ture fund. They’re putting their monies into that in­fra­struc­ture fund. It’s not a loan to govern­ment,” the se­nior govern­ment leader said.

Other mea­sures that were be­ing in­tro­duced to stim­u­late the econ­omy were:

O Re­lax­ing South Africa’s visa laws for trav­el­ling mi­nors to boost tourism;

O Of­fer­ing pol­icy cer­tainty in the min­ing sec­tor by halt­ing fur- ther ac­tion on the Min­eral and Pe­tro­leum Re­sources De­vel­op­ment Amend­ment Bill; and

O Re­leas­ing a ra­dio-fre­quency spec­trum that govern­ment hoped would lead to lower data costs to aid the ICT sec­tor. The se­nior govern­ment leader said im­ple­men­ta­tion and ac­count­abil­ity were cru­cial ar­eas in which Ramaphosa was de­mand­ing com­pli­ance now that he had an­nounced the stim­u­lus plan.

“The prob­lem we [had in the past was] im­ple­men­ta­tion. And the pres­i­dent is try­ing to clean up this poor im­ple­men­ta­tion thing. A lot of things we com­mit­ted to in Fe­bru­ary [for in­stance], we didn’t im­ple­ment them and we are try­ing to sort out those things now,” the leader said.

De­spite the heated con­test be­tween Ramaphosa and Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency Nkosazana DlaminiZuma ahead of the ANC’s 2017 Nas­rec con­fer­ence, govern­ment in­sid­ers have lauded the work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two. The govern­ment of­fi­cial said the strate­gic move to place Dlamini-Zuma, known to be firm in her de­ci­sion-mak­ing, in charge of the mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion depart­ment would en­sure all lead­ers were held ac­count­able for spend­ing in their de­part­ments.

“For­get about CR17 and NDZ [lobby groups]. To put Nkosazana at mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion, I think Cyril was very smart to have it run by Nkosazana. If it’s Nkosazana there, peo­ple are go­ing to be made to ac­count.”

Next month govern­ment will host a jobs and in­vest­ment con­fer­ence at which the govern­ment leader said more “big an­nounce­ments” would be made re­gard­ing in­vest­ments from other coun­tries.

The Na­tional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment and Labour Coun­cil will hosts its jobs sum­mit next week at which busi­ness, labour and civil so­ci­ety are ex­pected to come up with strate­gies to cre­ate more jobs.

China has al­ready com­mit­ted to spend­ing more than R370­bil­lion in in­vest­ments and loans in South Africa. In ad­di­tion, Saudi Ara­bia has pledged an in­vest­ment of more than R130-bil­lion and the United King­dom has promised R850-mil­lion.

There are some con­cerns about the con­di­tions set by in­vestors, par­tic­u­larly China, in ex­change for their fi­nanc­ing.

But the of­fi­cial said govern­ment would have to en­sure it stuck to a solid plan to demon­strate cer­tainty to in­vestors on how the money would be used.

“The most im­por­tant thing is that there has never been a prob­lem with money com­ing in. The prob­lem is for the past 10 years we didn’t know what we were do­ing with money. What in­vestors want now is a clear pro­gramme,” the se­nior govern­ment leader said.

Break­ing down walls: South African Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping have agreed that China will in­vest more than R370-bil­lion in South Africa. Photo: Andy Wong/POOL via Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.