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'Ramaphoria' has faded , says president Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS

The "Ramaphoria" that had the nation booming with hope almost two years ago has faded, President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted.

In a newly launched weekly newsletter titled From the Desk of the President released today, Ramaphosa says reality quickly set in after people realised that there were no quick fixes to issues the country was grappling with such as the high unemployment rate.

“Much of the confidence that the country had 20 months ago has dissipated as the reality of the problems we face became clearer,” writes Ramaphosa.

“This confidence was born out of the hope that we would quickly undo the damage that was done over a number of years. Implementing change does take time.”

Ramaphosa took over from former president Jacob Zuma in February 2018 after Zuma was pressured to resign.

Zuma’s tenure, described by many as "nine wasted years" were clouded by allegations of corruption, growing unemployment, especially among the youth, as well as weakening business confidence that negatively impacted on the economy.

During the Zuma years, state-owned enterprises including Eskom and Transnet among others were marred by allegations of corruption which gave rise to the ongoing state capture commission of inquiry.

When Ramaphosa took over, there was hope that change was imminent as a man with a successful business past would be at the helm. The country was hopeful that corruption would be rooted out, people would get jobs and that investors would have more confidence in South Africa. This excitement was coined "Ramaphoria".

Ramaphosa, in a newsletter he penned personally, has now admitted that some of the expectations that were placed upon his administration were not practical.

“The important issue is that we should move in a determined way to effect change while remaining irrevocably committed to rooting out state capture, corruption and malfeasance,” he writes.

He, however, said that the spirit of Thuma Mina – Send Me, which was the theme of his first State of the Nation Address, still resonated with people.

“They want to change the narrative of doubt to a narrative of opportunity not through clever spin, but through action. South Africans are ready to rise to the challenge.

“Most of the people I speak to recognise that we have made progress in turning our country around. The changes that have taken place in many state-owned enterprises and in bodies like the NPA, Sars, the police and the State Security Agency give people confidence that we can restore the credibility and integrity of the state. It shows that we are serious about tackling corruption and ending state capture,” he writes.

On the economic front, Ramaphosa writes that there has been progress on the economic stimulus and recovery plan which has been successful in creating a more investor-friendly environment.

“Funds have been redirected to stimulate economic activity in areas where the majority of South Africans live. This includes finance to support black commercial farmers, the revitalisation of industrial parks in townships and the establishment of a township economy fund.

“Government is also increasing the value of goods and services it procures from small business and cooperatives. Much work still needs to be done in many of these areas to ensure they have the effect on the economy we seek.”

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