When South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address in mid-February, he promised to announce plans for a major investment conference.
On Monday evening, before flying out of OR Tambo International Airport to a Commonwealth heads of government meeting, Ramaphosa announced that the conference would take place in August or September.
“New investment in productive sectors of the economy is […] vital to our efforts to reduce poverty and inequality,” he said.
The president also announced the names of five people – four special envoys and one new economic adviser – tasked with seeking out and meeting with investors before the conference kicks off.
“They will be travelling to major financial centres in Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas to meet with potential investors,” said Ramaphosa. “A major part of their responsibility will be to seek out investors in other parts of Africa, from Nairobi to Lagos and from Dakar to Cairo.
“This is part of a broader push by government to advance economic integration in the Southern African region and across the continent.”
Meet the team:
When images surfaced of Trevor Manuel and Cyril Ramaphosa jogging on the Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town shortly after Ramaphosa’s election as president, there was some speculation that Manuel could return to his post as finance minister. In the end Nhlanhla Nene was offered the job.
Manuel had said as early as March 2017 that he would be willing to advise a Ramaphosa-led government.
Almost a year later, he was named as one of Ramaphosa’s four investment envoys.
Manuel holds the distinction of being South Africa’s longest-serving post-apartheid era finance minister. He took over from Chris Liebenberg in 1996 and served as finance minister in the Cabinets of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe.
Ramaphosa will expect Manuel, who is respected by international investors, to bring the gravitas the country’s team of investment envoys needs to convince investors that South Africa under Ramaphosa is an attractive investment destination.
While speculation over Manuel’s return to Cabinet never really got off the ground, Mcebisi Jonas was seen as a serious contender to replace Malusi Gigaba in Ramaphosa’s first Cabinet as finance minister.
He served as deputy finance minister from mid-2014 to early 2017, before being shuffled out of Cabinet in late March of that year. Jonas resigned as an ANC MP a few weeks later.
While still in office he became known as a fierce critic of state capture, arguing that it undermines the efficiency of the state.
He became one of the highest profile South Africans to make corruption allegations against the Gupta family. He told former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that in 2015 – when he was still deputy finance minister – he was “offered” the job of finance minister and R600m by the Guptas. He turned it down.
The Gupta family has denied that such a meeting and the offer of money took place. Ajay Gupta in the past called the claim “blatantly dishonest”.
Ramaphosa will be hoping that Jonas’s persona as an enemy of corruption and sleaze will reassure investors that SA Inc has turned a page on the Zuma era.
Businesswoman Phumzile Langeni is the executive chairperson of the Afropulse Group, and has served on the boards of several major South African corporations, giving her a broad overview of the local economic landscape.
These include Imperial Holdings, Massmart, the Mineworkers Investment Company, Primedia, Transaction Capital, and more than a dozen others.
If Jonas and Manuel bring public sector experience to the team, Langeni and former Standard Bank chief Jacko Maree represent private sector knowledge.
According to her profile on Bloomberg, Langeni has also had some experience in government, having served as an economic adviser to former minister of minerals and energy Buyelwa Sonjica.
She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Natal and is also a registered stockbroker, having completed a JSE stockbroking course at the University of the Witwatersrand in the mid-1990s.
Trudi Makhaya, the CEO of Makhaya Advisory and a former deputy commissioner at the Competition Commission, was named Ramaphosa’s economic adviser on Monday evening.
One of her first orders of business will be to coordinate the plans of the four special envoys, and create buzz at investment gatherings ahead of the main investment summit set to take place in South Africa before the end of September.
A Rhodes scholar, she has postgraduate degrees in business and economics from Oxford University and the University of the Witwatersrand.
According to her website, she has held management or consulting roles at Deloitte South Africa, Genesis Analytics and AngloGold Ashanti.
She has also served as an adviser and angel investor to a number of companies, and has held non-executive directorships at Vumelana Advisory Fund and MTN South Africa.
Makhaya is also an opinion columnist for Business Day, and her byline has appeared in numerous publications.
Maree retired as the CEO of Standard Bank in March 2013, after more than a decade in the role.
After stepping down, he stayed on at the group as a senior banker focusing on key client relationships.
He was later appointed co-deputy chairperson of the Standard Bank Group in 2016, and is currently the chairperson of Liberty Holdings Limited and Liberty Group Limited.
Ramaphosa will be hoping that Maree’s experience in doing business overseas and building relationships with clients will stand him in good stead when he woos foreign investors.
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