Ramaphosa’s possible collusion in economic crimes

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Phaphano Phasha

The Investment Summit was said to build upon the Job Summit that Mboweni has assassinated in cold blood but it appears President Cyril Ramaphosa has just committed the worst crime than Mboweni.

Immediately when Ramaphosa took over the reigns at the Union Buildings he set a target of attracting at least USD100 billion in investments to rejuvenate the economy.

But many analysts and commentators received this economic recovery plan with scepticism as they believed that FDI-growth was not sustainable. Not only that, but they also insisted that South Africa had enough resources to utilise in order to grow the economy.

The basic argument was that Corporate South Africa never really embraced the project of the democratisation of the country. South African corporations either left our shores to list abroad or they simply stage a prolonged ‘investment strike’ and refused to fresh investment to the economy.

It is common knowledge that South Africa needs growths exceeding seven to eight percent, or even double figures, to deal with triple challenge of unemployment (27%), high poverty levels and inequalities (presently close to a perfect 1 in a gin-coefficient index).

However, the predominantly white-led private sector, or the white monopoly capital (WMC) as others prefer to call it, has been hoarding massive cash reserves and refusing to inject this money in new projects to grow the economy and also to create jobs.

Corporate South Africa dismissed the accusations that they were always on a low-key investment strike, and advanced all sorts of reasons why the economy was struggling to grow. Yet they kept exporting money to tax heavens and new investments abroad.

Companies such as Woolworths, ABSA, Standard Bank and Shoprite pay very low salaries and offer poor working conditions that make like to be extremely difficult for South African workers. This explains the large presence of foreign workers who are prepared to work for close to nothing.

However, these corporations maintain a huge presence in neighbouring countries where they are doing any better as they extract foreign currency out of places like Malawi, Zimbabwe and Angola to send the money to heavens while destroying the local economies.

Other big players like SAB (recently stolen by Belgians) and Anglo-American took money from South Africa to develop other countries in Latin America and elsewhere. The profits are kept in Europe where they are now listed. The same goes for their local companies, that were turned into subsidiaries overnight, they repatriate profits to headquarters. Other companies engage in plain crimes like tax avoidance and illicit financial flows.

Notwithstanding all this, President Ramaphosa joyously announced during the Investment Summit that he had received CorporateSA’s commitment of R290bn into the South African economy, most of it over the next five to 10 years.

He screamed, “The investment strike by business is over!”

Probably Mr Ramaphosa does not realise that this statement is tantamount to treason for collaborating with companies in economic crimes. Before he returned to politics in 2012, he was part of the investment strike to undermine the ‘new’ South Africa. Also, his companies Shanduka and MTN were heavily implicated in Paradise Papers and Panama Papers as part of a group of South African firms stashing money in tax heavens.

To this day, Ramaphosa has never come out to give the side of the story in acts of syphoning money out of the country to Panama and Mauritius, among others.

Now he proudly declares that the investment strike is over without attempting to even investigate crimes by companies. To repay him for his lack of bite and long term friendship, CorporateSA rewards him with large sums.

The Investment Summit was a ‘jailbreak’ to assist the companies to regularise their loot and to return the billions of rands that they had kept abroad but failing to use.

By admitting that the investment strike is over and everyone clapping cheerfully at this bitter joke, Ramaphosa and friends have just confirmed that South Africa’s economic challenges and underdevelopment were deliberate. Finally, analysts and others have been proven right.

South African companies have R290 billion to ‘donate’ to their friend to create the Ramaphoria. This means that the technical recession was concocted to boost Ramaphosa’s image.

The state is captured by capital that is prepared to play a Russian roulette with people’s lives. The next announcement that will soon to be made will be on the sale of state owned enterprises to these ‘good Samaritans’.

The pledge of R290bn sweetens the deal for privatisation and opens floodgates for intensified capital outflows. South Africa will never wake up from its present sleep, until the last chair in the room is gone.

Phapano Phasha is Chairperson Anti Poverty Forum. She writes in her personal capacity