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Ramaphosa ‘to speed up economic reforms’

ReutersJOHANNESBURG (Reuters) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that he would use a new five-year term to speed up economic reforms and fix ailing state power firm Eskom, a week after his African National Congress party was reelected with a reduced majority.

Analysts have said reforms like cutting red tape and overhauling Eskom should be post-election priorities for the ANC, after a decade of slow growth and rising joblessness in Africa’s most advanced economy.

“We are in an economy that has not been growing ... in an appreciable way. That troubles us,” Ramaphosa told investors at a conference in Johannesburg, acknowledging that South Africa’s regulatory framework had discouraged investment.

“We have to embark on the reforms, speed up,” he added. “We are going to ensure that the certainty that investors want to see is there.”

The ANC’s 57.5 percent share of the vote was its worst result in a parliamentary election since it swept to power at the end of apartheid in 1994, but it was an improvement on a worse showing in local government elections in 2016.

Ramaphosa said he would give more details on his reform plans in a state of the nation address scheduled for next month.

Analysts say an early barometer of Ramaphosa’s ability to push through change will be whether he manages to trim a Cabinet comprising more than 30 ministers and deputies.

Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that he would announce a “reconfigured Cabinet structure” soon but did not specify that numbers would be cut.

South Africa’s economy grew by an estimated 0.8 percent in 2018 after recovering from recession. Growth is forecast at 1.5 percent this year.

One factor in hitting that target will be how the government manages a restructuring of power utility Eskom after severe power blackouts earlier in the year that dragged on growth.Speech

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