#ANC54: Trade unions, business welcome Ramaphosa's victory

19 December 2017 - 06:36
By Nico Gous
An emotional Cyril Ramaphosa closes his eyes after being announced as the new ANC President during the 54th ANC National Elective Conference held at Nasrec.
Image: Masi Losi An emotional Cyril Ramaphosa closes his eyes after being announced as the new ANC President during the 54th ANC National Elective Conference held at Nasrec.

Business and trade unions are cautiously optimistic after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected the new president of the ANC on Monday night.

His victory was announced at the ANC’s elective conference in Gauteng after he nosed ahead of his opponent‚ Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Ramaphosa received 2‚440 votes and Dlamini-Zuma got 2‚261.

Gwede Mantashe is the new national chairperson and Paul Mashatile the new treasurer general.

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza was elected deputy president‚ Ace Magashule is the incoming secretary general and Jessie Duarte retained her position as deputy secretary general.

Trade unions Samwu‚ Solidarity‚ Fedusa and Cosatu welcomed Ramaphosa and the new leadership. However‚ Cosatu said their support for the ANC is not a “blank cheque”.

“We expect them to work hard to rid the organisation of the factionalism and corruption that has threatened to collapse this more than a century old organisation and ultimately derail our revolution.”

Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann believes Ramaphosa understands the balance between the market and job security.

“Unfortunately the ANC will have to go further than to just merely elect a new leader for the party. It will also be necessary for the country to get a new leader. Zuma will have to be recalled for stability.”

Samwu believes it is a “new era” for the ANC.

“Gone are the times when trade unions and workers would find it difficult to campaign for the ANC given challenges of the organization‚ in particular leadership and scandals which have taken away the hope and confidence that South Africans had in the party. We believe that this victory would make it easy for us to sell the ANC to our people.”

Fedusa general secretary Dennis George called the election of Ramaphosa an “early Christmas present” that he hopes will restore investor confidence‚ strengthen the rand and ward off ratings downgrades.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi believes the ANC elective conference reaffirmed “there is no solution coming” for deindustrialisation or job losses.

Economist Dawie Roodt said investors might reconsider investing in South Africa‚ but doubts Ramaphosa will be able to turn the country around.

“He will not be held back by his own ability‚ but the ability of his organisation … I think the DNA of the ANC is poisoned‚” said Roodt.

“It is not as if the state’s debt is gone. We still have one of the worst education systems in the world. We still have a swollen public service that is paid hopelessly too much.”

Economics Professor Raymond Parsons from the North West University said the ANC leadership is at a possible “tipping point” for creating jobs and growing the economy.

“This is essential in order to underpin future ‘radical socio-economic transformation’. The South African economy is presently not in a good space and needs urgent economic changes to realize its true potential.”

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) wants the ruling party to focus on inequality‚ unemployment and poverty by growing an “inclusive” economy to create jobs.

“For this to happen‚ we require regulatory certainty and policy stability that will accelerate and deepen transformation.”

Chamber of Mines CEO Roger Baxter said the newly elected ANC leadership “have a considerable task at hand” on behalf of the mining industry.

“We hope to see a renewed focus by the ruling party on responsible and ethical leadership in the national interest across all sectors of the economy and at all levels of society. The future of South Africa and its people depend on it.”

Black Business Council secretary general George Sebulela said: “We are positive that the new leadership will contribute hugely to creating an environment that is conducive for radical socio-economic transformation and job creation in the country.”