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Standard Bank urges Ramaphosa to take decisive action on SA economy

The bank has joined business in congratulating Cyril Ramaphosa for his appointment.

Cyril Ramaphosa after taking to the stage as new ANC president on 18 December 2017. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Standard Bank says it hopes African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa and the top six will move with speed to effect the structure reforms necessary for a healthy policy environment.

The bank has joined business in congratulating Ramaphosa for his appointment.

It's called on Ramaphosa to take quick and decisive action against corruption in the public and private sectors.

CEO Sim Tshabalala says it’s important to address issues of governance and management of state-owned enterprises.

“We think it’s necessary to address those issues so that lenders and investors can have a clear view on the conduct of the management of those businesses. Again, you’ve also heard a lot about the capital structures of those businesses that needs to be replenished.”

WATCH: Cyril Ramaphosa's first address as ANC president

Ramaphosa, a 65-year-old union leader who became a businessman, won the leadership of the African National Congress this week on promises to fight corruption and revitalise Africa’s most industrialised economy. That message has been welcomed by investors who have largely held back their capital during Jacob Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency.

The ANC’s electoral dominance means Ramaphosa, who edged out former cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the leadership, is likely to become the country’s next president after elections in 2019.

“As a leading contributor to the economic development of our country, Standard Bank has a right and a duty to argue for policies and approaches to governance that will reverse South Africa’s economic decline and that will foster the conditions for much faster and more inclusive growth, more job creation, and further transformation,” the bank added in a statement.

Ramaphosa, an apartheid-era trade unionist and former chairman of Africa’s biggest telecoms operator MTN Group, is seen by business leaders as well placed to turn around the economy. South Africa’s GDP is estimated to grow by less than one percent this year, while the unemployment rate is nearly at a record 28%.

Some investors are nevertheless concerned that Ramaphosa may not be able to push through policy changes because the ANC’s decision making group, known as the “Top Six”, was split down the middle, consisting of three politicians apiece drawn from Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma’s camps.

Dlamini-Zuma is a veteran campaigner against the racial economic inequality that has persisted since the end of white-minority rule and her hostility to big business had rattled some investors in South Africa.

Separately, Zuma on Thursday congratulated Ramaphosa on his victory and commended the policies adopted at the conference, which include the nationalisation of the central bank and land expropriation without compensation.

“The delegates have shown yet again that there is no task bigger than the ANC. But most importantly, they have demonstrated that the unity of the ANC is sacrosanct,” Zuma said in a statement.

LISTEN: ANC resolves to expropriate land without compensation

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)