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Politics sets South Africa on a new path

With the election of Cyril Ramaphosa, there is a new sense of optimism in the country. Bankers talk of Ramaphoria and hail the first signs of a long-overdue improvement in the economy.


South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa

How important is Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency for South African business?

Ask the country’s browbeaten bankers and it seems they have added ‘Ramaphoria’ and ‘the Cyril Spring’ to their lexicon to describe the new confidence sweeping the nation ever since the 65-year-old Ramaphosa became president in February and put an end to years of dysfunction under Jacob Zuma.

Bankers say the hope surrounding Ramaphosa, a former trade union firebrand who became one of South Africa’s richest and most successful tycoons, reminds them of the optimism that marked the start of the Nelson Mandela era in 1994.

As in 1994 there’s even talk of a ‘new South Africa.’ One fund manager described it as a “warm fuzzy feeling.”

Media headlines mirror the upbeat mood.

‘Ramaphoria infecting SA like a happy virus,’ said one, ‘as consumer confidence surges to all-time high.’

That the country’s cricketers humbled the mighty – and cheating – Australia in a home Test series in March has only added to the euphoria.

Ramaphosa is the republic’s most business-friendly leader in its modern history. One eloquent measure of how South Africa Inc regards its new president is the usually sober quarterly business confidence index issued by the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) at Stellenbosch University. 

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