Analysis

The 5 best and 5 worst moments of Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency

08 August 2018 - 10:41 By Ray Hartley
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his first state of the nation address in Parliament on 16 February 2018.
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his first state of the nation address in Parliament on 16 February 2018.
Image: Esa Alexander

It's been a hectic six months since Cyril Ramaphosa took over as president. Here are the high and low points of his rule

THE 5 BEST MOMENTS

1. Nhlanhla Nene returns to the finance ministry

Jacob Zuma's most controversial decision was the firing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December 2015. He announced that little-known back-bencher, Des van Rooyen would replace him. After three days of market turmoil, Zuma was made to back down and appoint Pravin Gordhan instead. Ramaphosa announced that Nene would finally be back in the job.

President Cyril Ramaphosa reshuffled his cabinet on February 26 2018. Find out who’s in and who’s out.

2. New Eskom board appointed

Eskom had been at the centre of a myriad of state capture allegations. Ramaphosa announced that Jabu Mabuza would take over as chairman of a new board tasked with getting rid of corruption and turning around its finances.

Jabu Mabuza
Jabu Mabuza
Image: Sunday Times

3. NPA announced Zuma will be tried for corruption

Thirteen years after he began dodging charges with court challenges and the appointment of compliant heads of the NPA, Shaun Abrahams finally announced that Jacob Zuma would face the music on corruption and bribery charges.

Former president Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his third appearance on charges of fraud and corruption on July 27, 2018.
Former president Jacob Zuma in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for his third appearance on charges of fraud and corruption on July 27, 2018.
Image: Jackie Clausen/ Pool

4. Massive investment pledges

Ramaphosa pledged to raise $100 billion in foreign investment over five years to kick start the economy. He proved the skeptics wrong when Saudi Arabia said it would invest $10 billion, the UAE a $10 bn and China promised a further $14,7 billion.

5. New dawn pledge leads to Ramaphoria

Delivering his first state of the nation address, Ramaphosa lifted the mood of the nation by promising a new dawn where corruption would be targeted and jobs would be created for the unemployed youth. He also pledged to speed up the redistribution of land. The country felt like a different place the next day.

THE 5 WORST MOMENTS

1. David Mabuza appointed Deputy President

After a lengthy delay, Ramaphosa finally announced his cabinet. Many said the delay was the result of last minute negotiations in which he was made to appoint David Mabuza as his deputy. Mabuza, with a colourful reputation in Mpumalanga had been mired in a series of scandals and suddenly Ramaphosa's new government looked less like a 'new dawn' than a 'same old, same old'.

Deputy President David Mabuza.
Deputy President David Mabuza.
Image: REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

2. Late night announcement on land expropriation

In a reprise of President Jacob Zuma's 'nightstalker' communications strategy, Ramaphosa surprised by announcing on television that the ANC would amend the constitution to enable the expropriation of land without compensation. He made the announcement while public hearings into the matter were still underway and despite several statements by the ANC that the existing constitutional clause was adequate.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on July 31 2018 that the ANC’s national executive committee had decided to instruct government to amend the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation

3. VAT increased by one percent

In the first budget speech delivered under Ramaphosa's presidency, then finance minister, Malusi Gigaba, announced the first increase in VAT in democratic South Africa - from 14% to 15%. Although he was forced into this position by government's strained finances, there were other options such as radically reducing state spending and inefficiency. The VAT increase placed the poorest households under even more economic strain. (An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Nhlanhla Nene was the finance minister who made this announcement. He was appointed after the budget speech)

Malusi Gigaba.
Malusi Gigaba.
Image: Esa Alexander

4. Bathabile Dlamini is kept in the cabinet

One of the biggest disappointments was Ramaphosa's announcement that Bathabile Dlamini, who had presided over the social grants disaster while minister of social development, would find a place in his cabinet as a minister in the presidency responsible for women. This was in the face of widespread calls, including from within the ANC alliance, that she be removed due to incompetence.

Bathabile Dlamini. File photo
Bathabile Dlamini. File photo
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

5. The rand's roller coaster ride

The rand strengthened substantially in the days before the ANC conference in December as it became clear that Ramaphosa and not Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would win the ANC presidency. On 10 November 2017, it was trading at R14.50. By the end of February 2018 it was at R11,51. But its improvement was checked early in the new year as land expropriation without compensation gained momentum and it became clear that Ramaphosa did not have a free hand when it came to sorting out the Zuma mess. Today it is trading at around R13,29. 

A snapshot of the rand's performance since November 2017.
A snapshot of the rand's performance since November 2017.
Image: MARKETWATCH
X