First Word: Editorials: Edition: April / June 2019


Breathe easier

Look at some bright spots. On balance, after the elections the odds are shorter for optimism than pessimism provided that . . .

This pre-elections period is the season of heightened madness. Expect it in vast dollops.

Truths and contexts become casualties, as they invariably do when emotions are let loose on the free-for-all social media. They offer a distorted gauge, as do sound bites from the self-interest of campaign rhetoric, amplifying arguments that stimulate populist response and expectation but belie their capacity for credibility and implementation.

Cool heads risk pollution by hot heads especially within an ANC looking to outflank the Economic Freedom Fighters. With the EFF’s eyes set on ‘kingmaker’ roles in national, provincial and municipal governments, where the ANC might not win outright majorities, some pandering is perhaps strategic for the challenge to be countered. Electoral inflexions are made of dust and return to dust.

There are obviously known unknowns. Particularly amongst them are whether:

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa will emerge strengthened or weakened from his “capture” by resolutions of the ANC national elective conference where he scraped into office by a hair’s breadth. In two years’ time he’ll face the ANC national general council when the faction fighting will again play out. Two years is the maximum timescale that he and the country are up against;
  • Coalitions with the EFF will be entered for the ANC to hold majorities at any tiers of government and, if so, the likely effects;
  • Business confidence is restored. This is essential for him to deliver on promises of increased investment and job creation. At a minimum, it involves the decontamination of state bodies (including the Hawks for obvious reasons) and crucially a turnaround in the electricity chaos. The latter is so severe that Eskom has forced a review of black economic-empowerment policies.  Read more…