Underwhelming. This best describes the sentiment that greeted President Jacob Zuma's speech to the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Thursday.
Zuma has sought to project authority after the humiliation of being booed from a May Day rally on Monday and a month of mass protests calling on him to step down.
But South Africa has been hurt by the uncertainty created by the president's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet a month ago, say a range of investors, business people and other delegates.
Zuma explained his Cabinet changes as a generational shift in power and as an effort to invite youth to play a role in transforming Africa's economies.
Two delegates who regularly meet investors said South Africa has limited appeal until at least December when the ANC will choose a new leader.
"International investors have about 200 countries they can make investments in. They won't come to a country with first world returns and third world risks," said a delegate who said he had met two sets of investors who had walked away from deals after taking the pulse of South Africa's politics.
"Until December nothing will happen," said another delegate who is often a first port of call for international businesses with an interest in African investment. "They want to continue investing [because South Africa is still a good bet] but the politics is overbearing."
In Durban, Zuma has worked hard to explain the rocky political landscape that greeted his visitors by casting his decisions as part of a new mantra of inclusive growth. "As leaders, we have not addressed adequately how we are going to close the gap between the rich and the poor," said the president, as he sought to explain the term "radical economic transformation" that has become his de facto economic policy.
The business leader who has watched two recent investors walk away said: "We understand the desire to expedite the journey [to shared growth and transformation] but the term can come across as an effort to 'out left-wing the Economic Freedom Fighters.
"What is concerning is that the regime and policies are not very stable."
Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF, called on Africa's older generation of leaders to act as role models for the younger generation.
Schwab quoted the three key values of a leader shared with him by Nelson Mandela: to respect human dignity and diversity, to serve the community you belong to and not your self-interest and to act as a trustee for future generations.
Mandela's legacy loomed large at the WEF this week. Kenyan social entrepreneur and broadcaster Salim Amin said: "How does a country that had one of the greatest leaders in the world become one synonymous with corruption, nepotism and impunity? It's sadder because of the potential South Africa has."
Thie idea of wasted potential was a common theme among delegates canvassed by The Huffington Post SA.
"I'm very sad at how South Africa is going," said Kenya's Kennedy Odede, an activist from Kibera. "It was the country of our hopes and dreams. Of Mandela. And Winnie [Mandela]."
Barclay Paul, founder and chief executive officer of Kopa Credit, another delegate, says: "The ANC has run out of ideas on economic liberation. Unemployment leads to unrest."
A delegate who travels across the continent including South Africa for at least 26 weeks a year said: "South Africa is the most sophisticated economy in Africa, but the country is also the most inward looking. The thing is, we expect South Africa to do better. We don't expect irrational actions [like the Cabinet reshuffle]. I mean, how do you explain a situation where a finance minister is on a roadshow begins in the morning and is called back in the afternoon?"
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was on an investor road-show in London when he was recalled by Zuma and then axed a few days later.
Razia Khan, Standard Chartered Bank's chief economist for Africa, said there was "nothing in South Africa that prompts immediate withdrawal, but there is a slow-burn".Suggest a correction