President Cyril Ramaphosa's silence not golden

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS

A few days just short of two weeks ago, SA inaugurated Cyril Ramaphosa for what is viewed as a proper start to his presidency.

There was much hope coupled to his rise to power as the nation sought to make good the promise of a renewal that would unshackle the true potential of what was once the continent's biggest economy.

The optimism was somewhat dampened by the continued sluggish economy that continued to shed jobs at an alarming rate.

Much hope was still pinned on things turning for the better after the elections held last month.

However, the run-up to the polls was no smooth ride with the blood-letting in jobs continuing unabated - ably spurred on by the power supply crisis that saw power utility, Eskom implement loadshedding.

It is no rocket science that the damage caused by the outages and prolonged strikes in mining were going to scupper chances of a recovery, making the promise of Ramaphosa's New Dawn that little more difficult to attain.

Confirmation of the bad news duly arrived this week when Statistics SA figures revealed that the gross domestic product had shrunk by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019. An economist told this newspaper the scale of the contraction was calamitous, "something I have never seen before".

"The problem is that the contraction happened in every sector of the economy," he said.

Fears are that the economy is headed for a recession.

This calls for unity on all fronts if the nation is to pull back from the looming calamity.

But such unity is unlikely to be a reality if even the ruling party speaks in different tongues, as it has been doing over the last 48 hours - sending the rand into a spiral.

The reckless manner in which the ANC communicates these issues is of concern. It does not help our ailing economy to have Luthuli House saying one thing and government ministers like Tito Mboweni saying the direct opposite. It causes uncertainty and discourages private sector investment.

In all of this, what is most troubling is the silence of the president. He may not feel it sometimes, but Ramaphosa is the most powerful politician in SA - both constitutionally and by virtue of him having just led the ANC into a decisive election victory.

His silence may help him keep friends with both feuding factions in the ANC. But it does not help our economy. By keeping quiet, he is fueling the uncertainty.

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