19/04/2018 09:42 SAST | Updated 19/04/2018 09:42 SAST

Ramaphosa's Sales Pitch: Selling SA And The 'New Dawn'

Cyril Ramaphosa has told investors that the country is in the midst of a "clean up", and has hinted at tax incentives for investors.

President Cyril Ramaphosa greets the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman as he arrives to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum Banquet at the Guildhall in London, Britain, April 17, 2018.
Simon Dawson / Reuters
President Cyril Ramaphosa greets the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman as he arrives to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum Banquet at the Guildhall in London, Britain, April 17, 2018.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is hard at work in London, using the Commonwealth Heads of Government Forum to attract investors, as part of an aggressive new investment drive. So far, his interactions with government and business leaders appear to have been positive, as a statement by 10 Downing Street this week showed – the UK has promised to invest millions.

And while Ramaphosa has used his "new dawn" message to romance investors, along with promises to "clean up", exactly what he has promised investors is not yet clear.

But he promised "well-crafted incentives" during an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, and hinted that these might be "tax or general industrial incentives."

The rand approved, peaking to its highest level in two weeks by the end of Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

Ramaphosa will spend the week meeting with various heads of Commonwealth nations. He is accompanied by his newly-appointed economic envoys – Trevor Manuel, Mcebisi Jonas, Jacko Maree and Phumzile Langeni. He will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on Thursday and Friday.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, just after his arrival in the UK, Ramaphosa's office said the South African team would use the visit to market South Africa to investors, Fin24 reported.

It would be an opportunity to invite investors to an investors' summit which Ramaphosa wants to hold in September this year, the Presidency reportedly said. This is as part of a new drive announced by Ramaphosa this week, to draw in R1.2-trillion in investment into the country.

Ramaphosa also reportedly wants to use the visit to lobby the Commonwealth countries for support for South Africa's candidature to be on the United Nations Security Council in 2019 and 2020, Fin24 reported.

His first stop was a courtesy call to Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, where he received two letters that former President Nelson Mandela had written to the monarch.

Ramaphosa also met with British prime minister Theresa May on Tuesday. Downing Street said in a statement that R857-million in UK funding had been secured over the next four year to help South Africa improve its business environment and make it more attractive to investors.

"The funding will be used to help identify and dismantle barriers to trade within Africa and beyond, creating a wealth of opportunities for UK business over the coming years.

"The prime minister said she was pleased to welcome Mr Ramaphosa to the UK on his first visit as president, noting that the relationship between the UK and South Africa is strong and deep, both bilaterally and as a key Commonwealth partner," the statement read.

Ramaphosa told guests at a dinner hosted by the Lord Mayor of the City of London on Tuesday night that South Africa was open for investment.

"I am here to do good business deals to attract investment to South Africa and indeed to Africa our continent," he said. He opened with a hark back to the Mandela years, with a gentle reminder that he had been a favourite of the former president.

"More than 20 years ago, Nelson Mandela asked me to come to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum and today I am overjoyed once again to be here and the privilege and the honour is doubly enhanced because this year we celebrate 100 years since Nelson Mandela's birth," he said, according to Polity.

He spoke about Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and how not many countries "have had the great fortune of having a married couple contribute so much to the future of their country".

But the thrust of his speech was that South Africa was here to do business, and emphasised that the Commonwealth has a "critical role to play" in rising to the challenges facing third world countries.

He used the opportunity to address the land question in an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday. He reportedly said South Africa's policy of land expropriation without compensation would not damage the economy, and would not endanger food production. He also said that the land reform process must happen within the parameters of the Constitution and said property rights must be respected.

Ramaphosa also addressed an African business leaders forum, and a lunch attended by investors on Wednesday.