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Q3 2021 - (released November 2021)

SA's quarterly Private Equity & Venture Capital magazine

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Editor's note

by Michael Avery

At the time of writing this note, just over half of the local government election’s votes had been counted, but the predictions were being proffered by the psephologists, with high degrees of certainty that the ANC would see its share of the vote nationally fall below 50% for the first time in our young democracy’s history.

In conversation with political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki, he characterised this as “the beginning of the end of an era” for the ANC. “For me as a businessperson,” he stressed, “we now have an opportunity for new economic policies.”

The bottom line is, can those coalitions that emerge post this local government election, and indeed into 2024, as is now being predicted, provide the kind of stable, better quality and more honest and responsive political leadership and government that the country is clearly yearning for? That is the big question.

The irony, according to Mbeki’s incisive observation, is that business has increasingly leaned left of the centre of South Africa’s politics.

“They are the ones who are very concerned about poverty levels; they are the ones who are casualties of the July riots. They want the population to be better housed, better fed, to become an effective real market for them,” he points out.

It seems to me, though, that the country and the ANC have far bigger problems to worry about than who to form partnerships with, in which municipalities. The ANC is now facing a slow death as it is being abandoned by the black working class in the country's core commercial heartland of Gauteng. I suspect that the black middle and upper class in the private sector, who live in former white suburbs, are also not voting for it.

This leaves the ANC dependent on rural and urban poor, public sector middle and upper class, and traditional leaders. This is what happened to the ZanuPF, who eventually had to be kept in power by the army. Aren't these the real issues, rather than coalitions, that the country, and especially business, should be talking about?

Interestingly, Cyril is making the army more and more active and visible in national life. He had an army guard of honour at his inauguration, he uses it to police elections, to enforce lockdowns, et cetera. Maybe he and his advisors know something the rest of us don't know?

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