It’s those mixed messages

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency/ANA

If President Cyril Ramaphosa expects to succeed in his endeavours to deliver on his presidential campaign promises, he really needs to pay attention to the messages that are being telegraphed to the markets that, like it or not, dictate in large measure how our economy will evolve (or probably devolve) in the future.

That his heart is in the right place is beyond question, but equally beyond question is his lack of control over the forces which bedevil his efforts at every turn.

Imagine how difficult it must be for a fund manager, or an analyst at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the three major rating agencies, Fitch, Moody’s or Standard and Poors, to make sense of the conflicting positions that emerge from our body politic when it comes to figuring out what our policy future might be, on so many fronts.

We continue to flirt with the notion of white monopoly capital (WMC), that canard created by Bell Pottinger at the behest of the Gupta family, which in turn gave birth to that neo-facist monstrosity, Black First Land First, headed by Andile Mngxitama, who even the EFF couldn’t abide.

No sooner had Mr Rampahosa made a public and categorical statement calculated to lay the ghost of WMC at his latest jamboree, last week’s investment summit, than WMC reared its head once more.

In the closing stages of the summit, Mr Ramaphosa said: “We should treat our entrepreneurs as heroes and move away from what we have been fed, where we treated our business people like enemies, called them white monopoly capital and all that. That must end today. Let us see our business people as heroes.”

Wits Marxist macroeconomist, Professor Chris Malikane, thinks differently, which he made quite clear during a panel discussion on what Mr Ramaphosa ought to do to jump-start our economy, on national television on Sunday night.

(Professor Malikane is the luminary who bestrode our politcal stage as “advisor” to Malusi Gigaba, when Jacob Zuma allowed him to play at being finance minister last year, after he fired Pravin Gordhan, for the second time.)

Professor Malikane reckons the way to save South Africa is to seek loans from the World Bank and/or the IMF in order to invest in much needed infrastructure development, rather than tapping into the private sector locally and internationally (read WMC), as Mr Ramaphosa had only just concluded doing a few hours earler.

He also reckons the state must nationalise on a grand scale, including the Reserve Bank, and the mining and financial sectors, and he is much enamoured of the Venezuelan and Zimbabawean disengagement from the global capital matrix, despite its calamitous outcomes.

Mr Ramaphosa’s blandishments notwithstanding, the markets do listen to the likes of Professor Malikane.

No sooner does Mr Ramaphosa pour oil on the troubled waters of expropriation without compensation (EWC), than he makes a statement on behalf of the ANC, that the party will proceed with EWC, before the constitutional review committee is even halfway through its public participation process on the matter.

Mr Ramaphosa talks tough on corruption and incompetence, yet he retains in his cabinet two people who have been found by the courts to have lied under oath: Malusi Gibaba in the Fireblade private air terminal matter, and Bathabile Dlamini in the SASA grants debacle.

What’s an analyst to believe?