Five things Ramaphosa must do now to fix South Africa
South Africa's newly elected president has a daunting to-do list
1. Clean out the dead wood
Ramaphosa’s first priority should be to remove incompetent cabinet ministers. Zuma was harshly criticised for corruption and nepotism, but his biggest failing was to severely damage the ability of government to deliver.
Ministers who ran the SABC into the ground, who oversaw damage to the delivery of social grants and who ran the police and intelligence services as political tools, need to be the first to go.
The flipside of this coin is that Ramaphosa needs to appoint effective, competent ministers to a more streamlined cabinet. Highly skilled ministers and former ministers such as Pravin Gordhan, Nhlanhla Nene and Mcebisi Jonas need to be included in the brains trust that runs government.2. Restore the criminal justice system
The credibility of the prosecution service, the police and the Hawks is at an all-time low following Zuma’s deliberate campaign to prevent his prosecution.
Ramaphosa needs to start with a new national director of public prosecution to replace Shaun Abrahams. The Hawks need to be turned into an effective, independent investigative arm of the justice system so that they can finally deal with corruption by senior public officials.
The speed with which prosecutions and convictions over corruption take place needs to be sped up to demonstrate that he is serious about cleaning up corruption.3. Restore fiscal discipline
Zuma’s failure to control state spending and the collapse of financial accountability in state-owned enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet have severely damaged South Africa’s financial integrity. These institutions need to become more financially accountable so that government’s balance sheet can return to the black. The recent appointment of a new board for Eskom is a step in the right direction.
Overspending on public sector pay and a bloated executive should be reined in.4. Reform the ANC
Zuma has turned the ANC into a party that protects its leaders against public scrutiny and that is out of touch with voters. Its electoral support has begun to decline steeply. Ramaphosa needs to change the ANC into a voter-facing party that holds its leaders accountable and operates in an open, transparent manner that is in tune with the constitution.5. Deal with youth employment
Although last on this list, this is Ramaphosa’s biggest challenge. The exclusion of the youth from the economy is the greatest source of instability in South Africa. Ramaphosa must use his negotiation skills to bring business, the unions and the unemployed to a new consensus on how to grow the economy and increase employment.
He has to persuade local businesses to invest in South Africa to grow formal employment by laying down a predictable and fair economic policy that is consistent.
He needs to find ways of turning the entrepreneurship and creativity of the youth into a national economic force by empowering the young to start businesses and employ their peers.
• Ray Hartley is the author of the recently published biography Ramaphosa: The Man Who Would Be King.