South Africa

Ramaphosa in trouble

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has lost the confidence of a key constituency.

Five years after ushering in a wave of business optimism that he’d revive an economy hobbled by industrial-scale corruption under his predecessor, executives are running out of patience with the 70-year-old leader.

Economic stagnation spawned by record daily power outages, rampant crime, disintegrating infrastructure and foreign policy missteps is leading investors to the exits, with the rand fast approaching a record low of 20 per dollar.

The business community’s growing disaffection with Ramaphosa is expected to be a topic of discussion when his deputy, Paul Mashatile, meets executives on Friday evening.

The mood going into the meeting, which will be attended by the heads of the nation’s biggest banks and other companies, was summed up by Investec Group Chief Executive Officer Fani Titi.

“We are going nowhere fast,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “The government is disorganized. Totally disorganized.”

Foreign investors have sold a net $10.5 billion of South African government bonds this year, adding to $15.9 billion of net sales last year.

Non-residents held just 26% of government bonds at the end of April, down from a high of 43% in March 2018, the month after Ramaphosa came to office, National Treasury data shows.

Meanwhile, government borrowing costs have surged. The generic 10-year yield climbed to a three-year high of 12.18% on Friday, compared with about 9.05% in February 2018 when Ramaphosa took office.

The rand has lost 39% of its value over the period, the worst performance among major emerging-market currencies after the Turkish lira and Argentine peso. Options traders assign an 85% chance of the rand weakening to below 20 per dollar this year.


Top JSE indices