Tracking President Ramaphosa’s 100 days in office
We take a closer look at what the President has achieved after spending three months in office
It has been a little over three months since President Cyril Ramaphosa became the President of South Africa, with 26 May marking his 100 days as leader of the country.
The milestone provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on his momentous initial months in the hot seat at the Union Buildings.
The President's scorecard indicates a mixture of optimism about the future of the country, coupled with harsh economic realities, wage strikes, tax increases and runaway food prices.
President Ramaphosa was sworn in as South Africa's fifth democratically elected President on 15 February.
Despite the President assuming office during tough economic times including high unemployment, many South Africans believe he is steering the country in the right direction.
His approval rating of 65 percent is similar to those of predecessors Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma at their 100-day mark. Former Presidents Mbeki and Zuma scored 66 percent and 68 percent respectively.
The South African Citizen Survey (Sacs), which looks at attitudes towards political leadership and the direction in which the country is moving, found that 65 percent of respondents were satisfied with President Ramaphosa.
Sacs is conducted once a month and is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1 300 respondents. Topics covered include politics, economics, social issues and food security.
The 65 percent rating from March's survey was up from 57 percent in February. April's results will be available in June.
A good job so far
Almost two thirds of respondents said President Ramaphosa is doing a good job.
Some analysts agree with these sentiments, adding that President Ramaphosa displayed his business acumen and listening skills in the face of economic pressures during his first 100 days in office.
“We think the President has moved quickly to address some of the low-hanging fruit that needed improvement, but the jury is still out on whether the President will have the necessary support to address the harder issues,” said University of Stellenbosch's Bureau for Economic Research (BER) senior economist Hugo Pienaar.
He added that reform of the labour and education sectors is likely to be necessary for South Africa to achieve higher longer-term Gross Domestic Product growth rates.
“More also needs to be done to reduce the cost of doing business in SA,” he said.
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) Chief Executive Tanya Cohen agreed, saying the election of President Ramaphosa had been a notable contributor to the revival of business and investor confidence in the country.
The Rand Merchant Bank/BER Business Confidence Index jumped by 11 index points from 34 in 2017 (fourth quarter) to 45 in 2018 (first quarter). The report described such a big increase between quarters as rare, adding that since 1975 confidence increased by 11 index points or more on only 15 occasions.
“The President's inclusive approach, recognising the legitimate interests and contribution of all social partners, including business, will be key to South Africa's economic revival, serving to unlock investment, economic growth and employment,” said Cohen.
Shortly after taking over South Africa's reins, the President intervened at state-owned entities (SOEs), moved to address challenges at the South African Revenue Service and appointed investment envoys to bring more than R1 trillion in investments to the country.
He is seen as a new broom sweeping away years of corruption and maladministration.
President Ramaphosa put in place a new board at Eskom and the intervention has had a direct impact on the stabilisation of electricity supply while mitigating the effects of load shedding.
Other measures at the stateowned power entity included the appointment of a new CEO at the end of 2017 and a CFO in April 2018 as part of stabilising the executive management. At the same time the President continues to work with Public Enterprises and National Treasury to address some of the institution's pressing funding shortfalls.
With regard South African Airways (SAA), government overhauled the national carrier's board in October and appointed a new CEO in November. Also in place are the early stages of a turnaround plan to enable SAA to break even by 2020 and ease dependency on the government.
In March, CEO of SAA Technical and the CFO were suspended, and acting appointments made, after the pair was fingered in a forensic probe.
The interventions were widely welcomed by local and international investors.
“Overall, we think the interventions have been positive and helped to improve both business and consumer confidence. Also of importance was the immediate action to address the liquidity issues at Eskom by appointing a credible interim CEO and putting in place a new board.
“Indications of institutional renewal at other key state institutions, including SARS, have also been positively received as an indication of the President's anti-corruption and open-for-business drive,” Pienaar said.
The Cabinet reshuffle, as well as the reconstitution of many of the boards of SOEs, were also seen by BUSA as signalling a new era of “ethical, accountable leadership
and good governance”.
“This has translated into improvements in business confidence; strengthening of local currency; and more positive reviews by ratings agencies and international investors, as expressed during the International Investor Roadshow undertaken by Minister Nene [Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene] in March this year,” the organisation said.
Soon after taking office, President Ramaphosa promised to convene a jobs summit to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation.
The summit will look at what the country needs to do to ensure that the economy grows and becomes more productive, that companies invest on a far greater scale, that workers are better equipped and that economic infrastructure is expanded.
Then in March the President followed up on his promise to launch the Youth Employment Service initiative, which will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy. President Ramaphosa has also moved to unite the nation around one common goal and patriotism through his “thuma mina” (send me) message.
Like any President, Ramaphosa has already had his challenges including a surge in land invasions and service delivery protests.
One political analyst believes that the issue of land is one of the major challenges that President Ramaphosa will have to carefully manage – and one that could define his presidency's successes or failures.
“The land question is at the height of the political agenda and its resolution is urgent. How President Ramaphosa is seen to be leading or brokering a solution on this issue will be crucial,” said University of KwaZulu-Natal-based political analyst Lukhona Mnguni.
In his State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa said he would be guided by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference of the governing party on the issue of land. Those resolutions included the approach that land would be expropriated without compensation.
“We are determined that expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensures that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid,” President Ramaphosa said in February.
Economically, Cohen said that going forward, business would like to see the President maintain the focus on accountability and ethical leadership and building capacity within the state to implement stable, coherent and evidence-based policies.
“This will provide the foundation to enable long-term sustainable and inclusive growth, employment and social development,” she said.
Pienaar said a public sector wage agreement that is linked to the projected CPI inflation rate will be important for the country's fiscal position and is being closely monitored by the major global credit rating agencies.
The Mining Charter also needs to be finalised speedily and should preferably have buy-in from the major mining houses, he added.
One thing is for certain, all eyes are on President Ramaphosa and he takes the lead in efforts to move South Africa forward.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in as President of South Africa.