JOHANNESBURG - Topping the news agenda this week was the rand's reaction to the postponement by Parliament’s presiding officers of the State of the Nation Address (Sona), and the rescheduling of a special meeting of the ANC National Executive Committee meant to discuss Jacob Zuma’s future as South African president.
The rand reacted bullishly to the news, dipping below R12 to the dollar key level as the market roots for business friendly ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Things happened so fast. First, it were opposition parties planning to interdict the Sona from taking place on Thursday evening if Zuma were to be the person delivering it. Then, Parliament’s presiding officers including National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete announced Zuma had written to them requesting that the Sona be postponed.
It also came to light that Zuma had refused to step down from his influential position - of which he is accused of abusing to benefit his family and controversial friends the Guptas - when the ANC top six officials visited him at his official Mahlamba Ndlopfu in Pretoria on Sunday night.
Then Ramaphosa released a statement on Wednesday, saying: “There has been a lot of speculation and anxiety about the position of President Jacob Zuma as the head of state and government of our country.” Ramaphosa said he and Zuma had begun “direct discussions on the transition and matters relating to his position as the President of the Republic” and that the discussions were construction and lay for the basis for a speedy resolution on the matter in the interests of the country and its people.
Ramaphosa said he was aware that the certainty surrounding Zuma’s position was a cause for concern among many South Africans, and that this was a “challenging time for our country”.
“Both President Zuma and myself are aware that our people want and deserve closure. The constructive process we have embarked on offers the greatest opportunity to conclude this matter without discord or division,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Presidency also rejected reports that Zuma was planning to fire Ramaphosa as Deputy President of the country and replace him with his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who lost the ANC presidential race to Ramaphosa in December.
As Zuma dug in his heels, other news were happening in the country, such as the new Eskom board deciding to implement lifestyle audits that would affect the parastatal’s executive team, senior managers and middle managers. Eskom’s board chairperson Jabu Mabuza has stressed that their mandate was to root out financial mismanagement, malfeasance and maladministration in order to restore transparent and effective governance.
On other news, specialist banking and asset management group Investec announced former chairperson Fani Titi and Investec asset management executive director Hendrik du Toit as joint CEOs, taking over from long-standing chief executive and founding member Stephen Koseff. However, the Business Leadership SA took issue with the joint CEO structure, saying it was seriously concerned about the tendency of SA companies to appoint joint CEOs when “it is the black executive’s turn to occupy the highest office”.
Going back to the main story of the week, the opposition political parties have now given the ANC until tomorrow (Sunday) to take a decision on Zuma’s fate, threatening to expedite the motion of no confidence against Zuma in Parliament.
They stated that they wanted to proceed with Sona this coming Thursday (Feb15), thus putting more pressure on the ANC to deal with the Zuma question.
- BUSINESS REPORT