SOUTH Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party will gather from 16 to 20 December in Gauteng to elect its leaders for the next five years.
Current endorsements suggest that the country’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the edge over his main rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is current ANC president and Head of State Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife.
Besides the widely reported plundering and looting, the South African currency, which is pegged one to one with the Namibian dollar, has depreciated to such an extent that it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
A weak rand sees the cost of imported goods rise. In addition, while the rest of the world has benefited from record low oil prices, South Africa, and by implication Namibia’s weaker currency, means they were not able to take full advantage of this and continue to face higher fuel prices, which has weighed down heavily on both economies.
The rand, which averaged R4.97 to the US dollar between 1972 and 2015, weakened to R 15.05 per dollar at the end of 2014, partly due to South Africa’s consistent trade account deficit with the rest of the world.
South Africa’s economy has sunk by a collective 20 percent since 2011, Bank of America data has revealed.
From a per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about US$6 500, this figure has now declined to US$4 000. The South African economy has now seen five quarters of negative growth.
The political realities playing out in South Africa may be painful to watch, but Namibians should not be mere spectators in the game of thrones that will reach its crescendo in Gauteng.
The Swapo-led government, fresh from its reinvigoration, courtesy of its own elective congress last month, must now push Namibia’s industrialisation agenda, while making significant inroads into implementing the ‘Growth at Home’ strategy.
Regressive forces, such has foreign looters, who through tenders have bled Namibia dry, particularly in the fishing sector, must be eliminated.
The true potential of our key economic sectors must be fully realised and utilised, in ways that creates self-sustenance and more elaborate economic growth, thereby limiting Namibia’s dependency on South Africa, and strengthening its ability to better deal with shocks.
As things stand, along with the historical ties enjoyed with South Africa, Namibia also faces the ever-present reality that the neighbouring country is by far its biggest supplier of goods and services.
South Africa is Namibia’s major import partner (66 percent of total imports), followed by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and China.
The level of political risk in South Africa remains high, with the embattled Zuma being the subject of widespread political speculation. With an inexperienced finance minister at the helm of treasury, who according to Zuma’s detractors is part of his State capture project, the scenario where Dlamini-Zuma ascends to the ANC presidency, and is the ruling party candidate for the 2019 elections, could spell disaster for both the neighbouring country and the region. Dlamini-Zuma is backed by her husband, who is fighting a chess game to avert ever having to stand trial for corruption, in connection with a plethora of charges linked to the rotting carcass of the South African arms deal.
Ramaphosa, on the other hand, has been the country’s Deputy President since 2014, and has been part and parcel of the Zuma administration cutting a swathe of economic destruction across the country.
What is certain is that Namibians will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings at the ANC national conference, which holds the promise of doom or gloom, depending on where the political dice may fall.
However, in the end, Namibia must navigate itself away from being beholden to the external economic shocks, caused so brazenly, by those who wield political power inside its neighbour’s borders.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015