Business leaders fear that South Africa could become a failed state (The Economist – May 22, 2023)

CEOs have realised that running the country cannot be left to the ANC

Business leaders were ecstatic when Cyril Ramaphosa became South Africa’s president in 2018. Here was one of their own: a pragmatic tycoon to fix the incompetent kleptocracy of Jacob Zuma. Yet five years on, those running large businesses are exasperated.

Bosses from several different industries—such as Neal Froneman of Sibanye-Stillwater, a mining company; Daniel Mminele, the incoming chair of Nedbank; and Ralph Mupita, of mtn, a telecoms firm—have sounded the alarm. Could South Africa become a failed state?

Already in 2023, blackouts by Eskom, the electricity utility, have surpassed those of 2022, hitherto the worst year on record (see chart). Businesses are planning for the total collapse of the grid.

“If this crisis continues, we will not be able to guarantee stable supplies of food, medicines and other essential goods,” wrote retail bosses in a letter to the president in February. Morale dipped further when the rand plummeted to a record low after America’s ambassador ealier this month accused South Africa of covertly sending arms to Russia.

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