Petty point-scoring and strikes destroy Mangaung gains
The Times Editorial: The sensible economic choices made by the ANC at its national elective conference in Mangaung last month helped lift some of the gloom afflicting South Africa watchers.
The decision to take nationalisation of the mines off the table as a policy option, the appointment of businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy president of the party, and the party's statement that it is committed to the National Development Plan were hailed as signalling a new, pragmatic and more business-friendly ANC and government.
The rand, which had been pounded, dragged down by the most serious unrest on our mines since 1994, seemed to be recovering.
After Mangaung, it looked as if the powers that be were serious about reassuring investors that South Africa Inc had reopened for business, and that they would deal with the country's pressing developmental challenges.
But a lot can change in just a few weeks. Violent labour unrest reared its ugly head again on the Boland after the Christmas break and images of looting and wanton destruction were beamed around the world.
Instead of trying to stop the mayhem, leaders of the ANC-led tripartite alliance, including a member of the cabinet, sought to score political points off Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, seemingly blissfully unaware that their failure to act would cost South Africa - and not just the DA-controlled province - dearly.
Incredibly, labour union Cosatu called for a boycott of the produce of strike-affected farms.
Then came another downgrading of our sovereign debt rating, which also lowered the ratings of major local banks and state-owned companies.
And there was the Amplats restructuring debacle, which triggered another wildcat strike and provoked our minerals minister to threaten in retaliation to review Anglo's mining rights.
In two short weeks, the country is back to square one.