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Dear reader

Welcome to this edition of Tutwa newsletter. Our team has put their heads together to take a closer look at various challenges and opportunities facing South Africa, the African continent, and the world to provide our readers a view to major developments that decision-makers will need to grapple with in the coming months.

South Africa is consumed in election frenzy, with the date for the polls officially announced during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent state of the nation address. Various political parties are already gearing themselves up for the showdown on the 8 May 2019.

Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address on the 7 February 2019 took place against a gloomy political climate. The various commissions of inquiry into state capture, or systemic corruption (‘Zondo Commission’), the South African Revenue Services (‘Nugent Commission), and the Public Investment Corporation, are laying bare the extent to which maladministration and corruption have gone deep into various institutions and are posing grave risk to governance and stability. There is a new wave of discontent that is emerging around the rolling electricity blackouts, which further dampen confidence in the economy, and intensifies uncertainty over the future of the public utility, Eskom. This creates a portent keg of discontent that, if not defused, could throw the country into a spiral of instability.

The economy remains in the doldrums. It is uncertain how exactly Ramaphosa will grapple with all these challenges, especially given deep rifts within his party and hostility from the opposition parties. During his speech, Ramaphosa announced some bare bones of reform measures that could be beefed up after the elections. The article by Heinrich Krogman, Azwimpheleli Langalanga, and Mzukisi Qobo casts a spotlight on the meaning of Ramaphosa’s plans and highlights key political, institutional, and economic challenges that he will have to deal with in order to turn the tide around.

We also take a look at the main elements of South Africa’s external engagement under Ramaphosa. The article by Catherine Grant-Makokera and Sanusha Naidu looks at the intersection between domestic challenges and foreign policy and makes a case that getting it right at the domestic level is key for an effective foreign policy.

We continue to keep an eye on developments both in the African continent and the world. There is growing enthusiasm in Sub-Saharan Africa with the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which at the time of writing had been ratified by 19 out of 22 countries. Faith Tigere provides a short explainer of the key objectives of this agreement and its likely benefits for the African continent.

Global policy uncertainty remains accentuated by an absence of a clear direction for Brexit and the continuing tiff between the US and China over trade. The article by Anna Ngarachu and Heinrich Krogman takes a closer look at an important aspect of Brexit, namely future trade deals between Britain and various partners post-Brexit.

We hope you enjoy the various analytic pieces. We look forward to hearing from you.

How much of the SONA wishlist is deliverable?

Heinrich Krogman, Azwimpheleli Langalanga, and Mzukisi Qobo
Delivered in a typical Ramaphosa consensual style, the 2019 State Of the National Address was all-encompassing, addressing everything and everyone. Opposition parties could find nothing much to fault besides challenging the Ramaphosa administration to implement the undertakings. Implementation deficit has been the Achilles Heel of government. Overall, the SONA addressed almost all the …
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Cyril Gets SA's Groove Back

Catherine Grant Makokera and Sanusha Naidu
With the election date set for 8 May, the focus for many South Africans preparing to vote is understandably on domestic priorities. South African citizens are grappling with the challenges of economic development, malfeasance, unemployment, food security, gender-based violence and failures in service delivery, to name but a few. Many would see the pomp …
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South Africa Should Secure its own “Brexit deal”

Anna Ngarachu and Heinrich Krogman
Teressa May’s deadline to get a Brexit deal past the UK parliament is now less than eight weeks away and it is looking unlikely that a workable package will get approval from either side of the aisle. Depending on the generosity of EU negotiators, the UK might find itself in a position where multilateral rules, …
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African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA): Status Update for Business Stakeholders and the Private Sector

Faith tigere
On 21 March 2018, member states of the African Union met and signed the African Continental Free Trade Area. 52 out of 55 countries have signed. 18 ratifications (10 deposited with the AU and 8 have completed the Parliamentary processes). 22 ratifications for the agreement to enter into force. However, it is important to note that the agreement that was …
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