Johannesburg - Investors in the UK are expressing concerns about political developments in South Africa after its sovereign credit was downgraded to junk status following President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle.
Independent politician and businessman, Lord Anthony St John of Bletso, in an interview with radio host Xolani Gwala on 702 on Thursday morning, said investors were questioning the government’s short to medium term policies.
“And of course they raised the concern that Jacob Zuma might look to try and have a third term, we have seen this happening several times ... But presidents serve two terms and no more,” he said.
Zuma, who has been facing calls to resign, will step down as ANC leader in December. His second term as president ends in 2019.
Lord Anthony, who grew up in South Africa and was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, said he was concerned that Nelson Mandela’s values were “under threat”, adding: “The cabinet reshuffle recently was shameful.”
The reshuffle, which was criticised by ANC leaders and the tripartite alliance and sections of society, saw Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas fired as finance and deputy ministers.
The move was followed by two credit downgrades to junk status by ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch.
“South Africa needs to come to the table. It needs to show good governance, it needs to show accountability. Right now, I’m saddened by the recent developments,” said Lord Anthony.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was expected to travel to the US this week to a meeting with his global counterparts and investors in Washington DC.
Lord Anthony said he had met former AU Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, during an investor Africa luncheon held in London recently, and was attended by about 40 guests “mostly those from financial backgrounds”.
“I sat next to her … we had a relaxed conversation, in a candid conversation she spoke about her experiences in the African Union. She raised the plight of young people in Africa…. She talked about the importance of younger people’s views being heard. I expressed concerned about the recent developments in South Africa, I touched on the issue of corruption and that’s where we had a very brief questions and answer session thereafter. It was the first time that I had met her,” he said.
Dlamini Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have expressed ambitions to succeed Zuma as president of both the ANC and the country.
Lord Anthony said he knew Ramaphosa well.
“I still have great respect for Cyril, and I think he could be a lot more vocal as Deputy President. He was of course the architect of the South African Constitution. He has played a pivotal role in the transition. And of course he’s highly respected by all facets of South Africa. The business community, the trade unions … he has to stand up to what is right. I think now is the time for Cyril to stand up for what is right …some in society are unhappy about what is happening in South Africa, and I hope … we will be more vocal.”
When Gwala asked him what needed to be done in the country, Lord Anthony responded: “I think there needs to be a far more transparent system of governance with checks and balances, there needs to be a fair road map, there needs to be a sense of understanding of short to medium policies of government. … We’ve seen so many changing of views. Unfortunately for some of us in the UK we need to understand that roadmap and that roadmap is very unclear right now.”
Zuma instructed Gordhan to cancel a crucial international investors roadshow to the UK and return to the country immediately, before axing him from the portfolio