South Africa

Ramaphosa has completely lost his shine

Political scientist R.W. Johnson confirmed what many South African business leaders have been saying – President Cyril Ramaphosa has completely lost his popularity.

Speaking at the 2024 Biznews Conference, Johnson revealed that Ramaphosa now enjoys the same popularity as former President Jacob Zuma.

Citing polling data from eNCA, Johnson said in 2019, Ramaphosa’s popularity added around 11% to the ANC’s support.

This additional support has completely evaporated, illustrating the disappointment of South African voters with Ramaphosa’s tenure as president.

The latest data cited by Johnson confirmed the disappointment that many business leaders voiced about the President’s performance.

Last year, Sygnia founder and CEO Magda Wierzycka said the acceleration of South Africa’s downward spiral under President Cyril Ramaphosa could be described as State Capture 2.0.

Wierzycka said under former President Jacob Zuma, South Africa faced high levels of unemployment, load-shedding, and poor economic growth.

There was also widespread corruption throughout the government, which became known as “State Capture”.

“When Cyril Ramaphosa came into power, the country had an expectation that there will be a solid economic policy on the table that corruption will be dealt with,” she said.

There were high hopes that the damage under Zuma would be reversed and that the country would be put on a growth path. “We were completely naive,” she said.

“Instead of economic growth and good governance, the country just started spiralling downwards. I call it State Capture 2.0,” Wierzycka said.

Political analyst Professor Lesiba Teffo said Ramaphosa’s tenure has been marred by disappointment and lack of decisiveness.

“President Ramaphosa came into office enjoying immense support founded on the promises he made and what people thought he would do,” Teffo said.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t live up to expectations. He should be disappointed in himself that he has reached a stage where people are assessing him in the manner he does.”

“Even his closest allies probably whispered in his ears, ‘Can you up your pace and be decisive’.”

South Africa’s financial data also confirmed that Ramaphosa performed exceedingly poorly as the country’s leader.

Since he took office, the local currency has 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%.

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

The latest poll data shows the disappointment in Ramaphosa – and the ANC

Johnson said the latest polling data shows that Ramaphosa’s poor performance and lack of popularity are hurting the ruling party.

He revealed that their data shows the ANC has dropped to 13% support in KwaZulu-Natal, with Zuma’s new MK party at 36%.

He added that Zuma’s appeal is also strong in Mpumalanga, and the MK party also enjoys some support in Gauteng.

Johnson said MK has around 11% support across South Africa, which makes it a big player in the political arena.

“It takes the ANC away from the hope of forming a coalition with a group of the smaller parties,” he said.

This leaves three possibilities after the general elections in May – an ANC/EFF, ANC/MK, or ANC/DA coalition.

Johnson added that, at its peak, the ANC enjoyed around two-thirds of the vote. When you add up the ANC, EFF, and MK’s support, it also comes to two-thirds of the vote.

The EFF and MK were formed by former ANC leaders who split from the party. “People who were hoping for an ANC split should be careful of what they wish for,” Johnson said.

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