Mass value destruction under Cyril Ramaphosa

The JSE has lost 22% in US dollar terms since President Cyril Ramaphosa took office. The Nasdaq-100 gained 147% and the S&P 500 75% during the same time.

There was tremendous positivity across South Africa when Ramaphosa took over from former President Jacob Zuma on 15 February 2018.

Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the race for the ANC presidency in December 2017, which resulted in Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president two months later.

Ramaphosa’s campaign focused on fighting corruption and implementing policies conducive to industrialisation and investment.

The hope of a new dawn engulfed South Africa. Referred to as ‘Ramaphoria’, the public and business community trusted Ramaphosa to bring about meaningful reforms.

This did not happen. The initial excitement faded as the deterioration of infrastructure, state-owned enterprises, and government institutions accelerated.

Load-shedding became a daily occurrence, Transnet collapsed, crime has reached record levels, and corruption is out of control.

Most local municipalities – responsible for providing citizens and businesses with electricity, water, and other services – collapsed.

These problems, in turn, resulted in poor economic growth, rising unemployment, and skilled people flooding out of the country.

Many business leaders and economists warned that the country is on the cusp of becoming a failed state.

Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka said South Africa was already a failed state, and the government was sabotaging businesses and killing the economy.

She added that the poor economic performance means the country has become irrelevant among international investors.

Renowned economist Dawie Roodt warned South Africa would face a serious financial crisis with rising debt and collapsing state authorities.

Roodt highlighted that state debt has reached record levels and is rising at an alarming rate.

“Very soon, the private sector is going to demand much higher returns on the increasing risk for funding the growing state debt,” Roodt said.

“Even the South African Reserve Bank is concerned about the growing amount of state debt the banking sector is funding.”

The results of poor governance and business-unfriendly policies are clearly seen in the value of the rand and the performance of JSE-listed companies.

Since Ramaphosa took office, the local currency weakened tremendously against the US dollar – from R11.55 in February 2018 to R18.63 today in January 2024.

Without meaningful economic growth and a rapidly increasing population, South Africans became much poorer in US dollar terms.

The JSE All Share Index (ALSI) performance versus the Nasdaq-100, S&P 500, and MSCI World Index clearly shows how much value the Ramaphosa administration destroyed.

Since Ramaphosa took office in February 2018, the Nasdaq-100 increased 147%, the S&P 500 75%, and the MSCI World 49%.

The ALSI, in comparison, declined by 22% in US dollar terms. It was one of the worst-performing exchanges globally.

The table below shows the performance of the indexes during Ramaphosa’s presidency – between 15 February 2018 and 10 January 2024.

 Index Return 
S&P 500+75%
JSE ALSI in USD terms-22%


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