Speaking in Johannesburg as part of a country-wide roadshow to PSG Wealth clients and advisers, political analyst Justice Malala told the audience that the National Development Plan is a “fantastic plan” that should have been implemented as soon as it was released in 2012.
A 30-year vision and implementation plan for South Africa, the NDP was developed under the direction of new ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa together with former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and written by “20 great minds backed up by 80 researchers from all the best universities in the country,” Malala said.
Should Ramaphosa take over as South Africa’s next president, he has stated publicly that he will use the NDP as his blueprint for achieving his goal of delivering 3% GDP growth in 2018, rising to 5% by 2023.
PSG Wealth engaged Malala to help their clients better understand South Africa’s rapidly changing political landscape. They did this in the belief that a better understanding of the macro-environment allows better decision-making when it comes to long-term wealth-building. “We thought Justice Malala was best placed to provide context of the current political landscape and what lies ahead to both our clients and advisers,” said Dan Hugo, PSG’s Chief Executive of Distribution.
“Clients have naturally been concerned about the political situation for some time, and its potential influence on their investments. This roadshow, which has been held in over 20 different venues across South Africa, is one way of arming our clients and advisers with more insight into how things are unfolding,” Hugo said.
A member of the audience at one of the events asked if Ramaphosa has enough backing to turn SA’s economy around to the extent envisioned in the NDP. The new top six officials of the party are split down the middle between those that backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for president of the party, and those that backed Ramaphosa, reflecting a power-sharing compromise between the two principal factions of a deeply divided party.
“Yes, he won by a small margin,” Malala said, “but he is the kind of person who can capitalise on that margin and win through at the end.” After the names of the top six were announced, Ramaphosa is said to have told his supporters that they had gained a beachhead. This military term means a defended position on a beach, taken from the enemy, from which an attack can be launched.
“This is how he has operated all along,” Malala said. “He did it in the 1980s when he started and became leader of the National Union of Mineworkers. They proceeded to take on the large mining companies and figures such as Harry Oppenheimer. Many people said ‘you won’t win, these companies are too powerful. But Ramaphosa kept on talking to Oppenheimer and other mining leaders, kept the lines of communication open until the situation was resolved.”
Ramaphosa also employed this tactic of using a small margin both in the CODESA negotiations and when the constitution was written and managed to be victorious. “So, I think that even with the very small margin he has in the ANC today, he is capable of bringing about changes.”
That others also realise this about Ramaphosa is evidenced by the fact that prominent ANC members, previous supporters of President Zuma, appear to be rallying around the new leader. In late January, for example, the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, threw the weight of the National Treasury behind a multibillion-rand civil claim against Eskom, President Zuma, the Guptas and 69 others. The president of the ANC youth league, Collen Maine, has also come out in support of Ramaphosa, Malala said.
The new ANC leader’s biggest job will be to turn around South Africa’s key institutions, so that they can once again be trusted by civil society and business. Malala mentioned in particular the National Prosecuting Authority and SARS. “These and other institutions have to be dealt with decisively so that we can once again be proud of them, as proud as we currently are of the Constitutional Court.”
Overall, Malala told the audience, Ramaphosa’s rise to power is positive for South Africa, and this has been borne out by the new sense of confidence that is abroad in the country and is working its way through the system. Mostly, however, Malala is delighted by what he sees as a return to the ‘politics of principle’ as opposed to the ‘politics of power’.