The Big Read: Rocky ride on Zuma's low road to junk yard

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The Big Read: Rocky ride on Zuma's low road to junk yard

Post by Admin on Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:23 pm


This is an assertion that I make with a heavy heart and the fervent hope that I will be proven wrong: South Africa will be downgraded to junk status by the three main ratings agencies this year unless the ANC finds it within itself to recall its president from office.

I do not believe that the party can find such resolve, and so a downgrade is virtually inevitable.

A downgrade will not happen because the people at the national Treasury are doing a terrible job. They are doing a spectacular job under extremely trying circumstances.

It will not be because South African business is not putting its shoulder to the wheel: CEOs and other business leaders are falling over themselves to tell their global counterparts that this is a good place to make money and invest for the future.

It is not even that we are not dealing with the real issues - economic growth, unemployment, poverty and inequality - in a sustained, systematic manner. None of these issues will matter much because we are not solving the key challenge that makes us seem like a joke to the global investor community. That challenge is that we say one thing and we do another.

When Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan stood up in front of investors in London, Boston and New York last week, his audience would have listened to him tell them how South Africa is recovering from the events of December 9 2015 when the respected and upstanding Nhlanhla Nene was fired from his job. He is a persuasive and committed speaker, is Gordhan. He would have instilled them with confidence. Surrounded by some of the most powerful people in South African business, finance, heads in the room would have nodded.

After his speech, however, the real world of South Africa would have started intruding on the fabulous picture he had painted. The members of that audience would have received e-mails from their colleagues telling them what was in one of the most influential newspapers in the world - the Financial Times of London - this past week.

Writing on the events of 9/12, the paper reported that the president's friends, the Gupta family, "denied a claim, made to the Financial Times, that weeks before Mr (Des) Van Rooyen's appointment they had asked Mcebisi Jonas, deputy finance minister, if he was interested in the Treasury's top post".

Stop and think about that. A claim is made in the Financial Times that one family is so influential with the president that it has the audacity to go shopping about for a pliable, quiescent finance minister who would do its bidding.

It is telling that everyone has denied the existence of such a meeting except South Africa's president. Jonas, who is reported by the Sunday Times to have told the Guptas at the meeting that they did not run South Africa, has not denied the meeting either. Instead, his office and the Treasury "declined to comment, neither denying nor confirming the existence of the meeting".

I have no doubt that the story is true. Just ask Fikile Mbalula who told him he had been appointed minister of sport.

Meanwhile, the same Gordhan who has been front and centre of the charm offensive will have arrived home to see posters of the Sunday Independent newspapers saying that the Hawks are threatening to arrest him.

The truth of the matter is that no matter how much Gordhan talks to South African business, to international investors and ratings agencies, the ANC, on whose behalf he serves, is at war with itself and does not know how to present a united and coherent front to implement policy to turn our downward trajectory around.

Just this week former deputy minister of economic development and now chairman of the ANC economic transformation committee, Enoch Godongwana, laid bare just how divided the ANC is.

Speaking at a "political school" of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union in Boksburg, Godongwana said a comrade had once told him that it was abhorrent for ANC cadres to march against their government, to which he asked: "Xa ibheda why singenoyimatshela? (If it's bad why can't we march against it?)

"We've got to go back to the streets and march against our government when it's making nonsense, but march in support of our government when it's doing good things...

"If we don't have a functioning state, comrades, konakele (things will be bad). We've got to get our ethics right."

The point I am making is that there are two tracks here. Gordhan and others are on the one, trying to build confidence and growth. On the other track is President Jacob "Wrecking Ball" Zuma and his puppet masters, the Guptas, recklessly and openly turning South Africa into a banana republic.

The ratings agencies can see both tracks and will punish us for allowing our country to be run by the Gupta family and the shameless Zuma.



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