The Economist is right, it’s time for “a coalition of the clean”

Phumlani M. Majozi says SA does not need Marxist policies as it faces a myriad of economic challenges

The Economist is right, it’s time for “a coalition of the clean”

27 January 2023

In April 2019, weeks before South Africa's six national elections, London's popular global magazine, The Economist, ran a cover story endorsing Cyril Ramaphosa for President of South Africa. "South Africa's best bet", was the title of the cover story. 

At the time, The Economist saw Ramaphosa as a leader who could pull South Africa out of its then mess of corruption, of a dismally-performing economy, and other issues that slowed South Africa's socio-economic progress. It wrote that to  "stop the rot in South Africa, back Cyril Ramaphosa". 

The Economist’s endorsement of Ramaphosa was questioned by many leaders and supporters of the opposition. They thought that the magazine’s endorsement lacked sound judgment on what South Africa deserved in political leadership at the time. They also believed that South Africa would not change for the better under Ramaphosa, as Ramaphosa himself is a member of the corrupt and incompetent ANC.

It is now four years later, and very little has changed for the better under Ramaphosa as President of South Africa.

Joblessness has continued to rise. Murder rates rose as well. The gross domestic product, GDP, continued to underperform. Inflation skyrocketed. Eskom’s blackouts have gotten worse in 16 years of their existence, and are decimating businesses. Corruption remains a pandemic in the ANC government. 

All of the above problems make it crystal clear that Ramaphosa has struggled to fix South Africa. In his first term, very little has changed on structural reforms and wellbeing of South Africans.

Hence, it was not surprising to see The Economist abandoning Ramaphosa in the lead up to the ANC’s  55th elective conference last month. This time, the magazine wrote that Ramaphosa had failed  to save South Africa. That it overestimated Ramaphosa’s "zeal and ability to drive change" in South Africa, when it endorsed him back in April 2019. The magazine called for a “coalition of the clean” that will govern South Africa post-2024 national elections.

The abandoning of Ramaphosa by The Economist is one of the proofs that Ramaphosa has lost  appeal in the past four years of his presidency. 

The Phala Phala farm scandal tainted his image and signalled that he could not be the driver of change against corruption, at least according to the eyes of the public.

I am very much in agreement with The Economist that the ideal outcome of the 2024 election would be a "coalition of the clean".

The DA has hinted that it would consider being in a coalition government with the ANC in 2024. Would an ANC-DA coalition be "a coalition of the clean"? No, it would not, because the ANC would still be involved. However, it would be a better coalition than the ANC-EFF coalition; because the EFF is a dangerous Marxist organization that would destroy South Africa if it were to come to power.

South Africa does not need Marxist policies at this point, as it faces a myriad of economic challenges. Stronger markets are what is needed to boost economic growth, not the government controls and nationalizations favoured by the EFF.

If South Africans are serious about fixing the country, then they must ensure that the ANC-EFF coalition is not an outcome of next year's election.

Now the question asked by many is whether the national coalition would work post-2024.

In his book titled “The ANC’s Last Decade”, popular political analyst Ralph Mathekga, writes about what he titles “The coalition conundrum”.

He writes that the DA will obviously have a huge influence in any future coalition in South Africa. Ralph also argues that for coalitions to work, there must be some common ground between the political parties involved. The opposition is too fragmented to form a proper coalition, Mathekga writes in his very informative book.

The chaos we saw in coalitions of local governments across the country in recent years, support Ralph's thesis that it will be difficult for the national coalition government to work post 2024.

The big question from some of us interested in public policy, is how will public policy change under a national coalition government, and will we see good long-term effects of those public policies when or if they are adopted?

It is hard to predict the good the coalition government will bring to South Africa post 2024. At this point, one can only hope that a sensible coalition that is less hostile to business, pursues good governance and pro-growth policy, emerges in 2024.

The ANC must be severely weakened.  As I have argued in my previous writings, the weakening of the ANC is necessary for South Africa's democratic, economic and political progress.

Phumlani M. Majozi is a senior fellow at African Liberty. His website is phumlanimajozi.com. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi.