South Africa

Ramaphosa blames apartheid for poor economy and unemployment

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, once again, blamed apartheid for the poor economy and high unemployment rate in the country.

Ramaphosa elaborated on his beliefs during his keynote address at the national Workers’ Day rally at the Athlone stadium in Cape Town.

He said the ANC led an alliance, working together as the ANC, SACP, Cosatu, and Sanco, to lead the charge to ensure that South Africa becomes free of apartheid.

“We needed to deal with the damage that was done by apartheid. We still need to complete the work that we have set out ourselves to do,” he said.

He added that they still needed to return the land to those who worked the land.

“We still need to ensure that the harm done to our people when they were forcibly removed from their land and houses should be addressed,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the ANC, which has been in power for 30 years, still need to provide “our people” with basic requirements for a decent life.

These requirements for a decent life include houses, electricity, water, food, and healthcare.

“We still need to undo the effects of Bantu education, transform our schools completely, end illiteracy, and help people find decent work,” he said.

“We know that we still need to tackle high unemployment in our country. We still need to remove the barriers that kept black South Africans from full participation in the economy.”

Placing the blame on apartheid for the economic and social ills in South Africa has become a common theme ahead of the elections.

Last month, Ramaphosa said the economy is where it is today because the Apartheid government crippled it.

Ramaphosa made these comments at the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s Worker Share Ownership Conference at the Sandton Convention Centre.

He told delegates that pre-1994, Black South Africans were deliberately excluded from meaningfully participating in the economy.

“We enabled this economy to operate not on all cylinders. If a car has six cylinders, it was only operating on two,” he said.

Had South Africa’s economy operated on all cylinders, it would have been far bigger, it would have grown faster, and it would have created more jobs, he said.

“Through that, we would have fostered competition, and competition is good. It creates companies which can innovate and create more jobs,” he said.

“Our economy was deliberately crippled and kept stagnant by the exclusion of the majority of our people,” he said.

“That is why our economy is where it is today. Many people don’t reflect on how our economy was crippled by not enabling it to operate on all cylinders.”

Dubious claims

Ramaphosa’s claims that the country’s economic problems are due to the damage done during apartheid are questionable.

The ANC government did, indeed, inherit a broken economy which was heading towards bankruptcy.

The economy’s annual average growth rate was 1.0% between 1985 and 1990, falling to 0.2% between 1990 and 1994.

However, in the first decade after democracy, South Africa’s economy flourished with growth of 2.7% annually under Nelson Mandela and 4.1% under Thabo Mbeki.

The Mandela administration stabilised the South African economy and achieved a steady growth rate of 2.7%.

The economy flourished under Thabo Mbeki. The government ran consistent budget surpluses, and the economy grew strongly at an annual rate of 4.1%.

They reduced the country’s debt, there was rapid job creation, and the currency strengthened significantly.

The Zuma administration destroyed the great work of Mandela and Mbeki. Under his rule, corruption and mismanagement flourished, and the economy suffered.

Pravin Gordhan took over from Manuel as Finance Minister, after which government spending spiked.

South Africa’s strong GDP growth during the Mbeki era stopped, and the country’s debt rapidly increased.

The trend accelerated under Ramaphosa’s presidency despite rhetoric from the president and finance minister pledging fiscal discipline.

Therefore, the current economic ills, such as slow growth, high unemployment, and rising debt, are a product of the Zuma and Ramaphosa presidencies.

The charts below show how South Africa suffered because of corruption and mismanagement over the last fifteen years.

South Africa’s GDP growth is declining.

South Africa’s debt rapidly increased from 2009, when Zuma took office. It accelerated under Ramaphosa.

South Africa’s unemployment rate has increased from 2008 to 2021

South Africans are losing trust in the country’s democracy. Less and less see it as their duty to vote.


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