NEWS
18/04/2018 12:50 SAST | Updated 18/04/2018 13:04 SAST

We're Here For the 💰💰💰, Ramaphosa Tells London Elite

A bow-tied and black-suited President Cyril Ramaphosa took his charm offensive to London and made it clear South Africa is "open for business".

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing a dinner in London on Wednesday night.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a packed Guildhall in London's financial district on Tuesday night, telling guests at a dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London (a borough of the larger London metropolis) that South Africa is "once again truly open for investment".

He is attending meetings with heads of state of Commonwealth nations in London, accompanied by his heavyweight team of economic envoys who were unveiled recently. This group – Trevor Manuel, Mcebisi Jonas, Jacko Maree and Phumzile Langeni – have been tasked with selling the country as an investment destination.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa: "I am here to do good business deals to attract investment to South Africa and indeed to Africa our continent."

The dinner was hosted by mayor Charles Bowman and was attended by various business leaders, including Microsoft mogul Bill Gates. Ramaphosa spoke alongside Phillip Hammond, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer [minister of finance].

Rampahosa, dressed in a formal black suit with a bowtie, told his audience that the institution of the Commonwealth should be used to foster closer working relationships between member states, as this could unlock greater wealth and prosperity. "I am here to do good business deals to attract investment to South Africa and indeed to Africa our continent," he said.

There was no mention of the land debate or the mooted plans to expropriate property without compensation in his prepared remarks. It is uncertain how the president will address investors' concerns when he attends a lunch hosted by Bloomberg on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa explained that South Africa under his leadership is working hard to negate the effects of recent examples of corruption and poor policy, and that the country has entered "a new era of confidence and hope".

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Charles Bowman, Lord Mayor of the City of London, and Catherine McGuinness, policy head of the City of London, welcome President Ramaphosa to the Guildhall on Wednesday.

"After several years of poor growth, limited investment and constrained public finances, the South African economy is starting to show signs of revival. This is taking place alongside a process of political renewal, which aims to restore the credibility of our public institutions, tackle corruption and wastage, and strengthen the capacity of the state.

"This week we announced an ambitious investment drive that aims to generate at least $100-billion [~R1.2-trillion] in new investment over the next five years," he said.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa signing a vistor's book in London on Wednesday.

Besides the Bloomberg event, Ramaphosa will also attend a meeting of African leaders and take part in a round-table discussion with heads of state hosted by British prime minister Theresa May.

According to the presidency, Ramaphosa will "position South Africa as one of the world's leading emerging-market investment destinations". He will also emphasise that the government is "committed to improving the investment climate".