President Cyril Ramaphosa has come under severe criticism from opposition leaders after Statistics SA announced on Tuesday that South Africa’s economy slipped into a technical recession in the fourth quarter of 2019.
The economy contracted by 1.4% in the fourth quarter following another 0.8% contraction in the third. In overall terms, it grew by just 0.2% in 2019, the lowest figure since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.
The news has sparked furious reactions from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Democratic Alliance (DA) leaders.
In a statement, the EFF said, “The people of South Africa should soon wake up to the reality that the neoliberal policies of Cyril Ramaphosa and the austerity measures imposed by [Finance Minister] Tito Mboweni will continue to worsen the economic conditions in South Africa.”
EFF MP Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi called Ramaphosa a “clueless leader,” while EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu said the recession is due to Ramaphosa and Mboweni’s “poor and reckless leadership.”
He added, “To make things worse, Tito Mboweni, who overestimates his brilliance, is cutting on Government expenditure, which will only serve to stifle economic expansion.”
African Transformation Movement (ATM) leader Vuyo Zungula, who has tabled a motion of no confidence in Ramaphosa in Parliament, added, “I am not scared to say RAMAPHOSA HAS FAILED. This further justifies our Motion of No Confidence.”
‘Timidity and poor policy choices’
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said the recession is a result of “timidity and poor policy choices” as well as lack of “deep reforms.”
“Without bold reforms and confronting the enemies of growth head on this trajectory will continue,” he added.
In a statement, Geordin Hill-Lewis, DA’s shadow finance minister, also called for “bold structural reforms” to drive competition and investment in the energy sector.”
He added, “Freeing the economy from the dead-weight of a failing state will provide South Africa’s struggling economy with the antidote needed to arrest the terminal decline and put the country on a sustainable path of economic growth.”
Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane also waded into the chorus of criticism in reaction to the recession. He tweeted, “We need no further evidence that our country has been mismanaged.
“This not just an outcome of corruption, but bad policy choices. We need economic reform in order to create prosperity for all South Africans. Liberations movements all face this test and fail; let’s bring change.”