SA economy has been tipped into disaster, says Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman. Pic: Martin Rhodes

A DIVIDED government meant South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was unable to lead the country effectively out of the COVID-19 pandemic – a predicament that had tipped the country’s economy into disaster.

This was the view of Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman, who said in an interview with BusinessLive that keeping the country in a high level of social lockdown was an example of how government was damaging South Africa’s economic prospects.

“It’s incumbent on the government to do the right things. They’re doing more damage now by keeping businesses at level 4 than they are doing good by preventing Covid-19,” he said. “They’ve got to get the balance right. They’re destroying the economy. We need real, clear, decisive actions from the government,” he said.

Level 4, which allows for more movement that under the near-total lockdown of Level 5, permits the operation of open cast mines at 100% whereas underground mines operate at about 50% of capacity.

South African business has spoken out about the need to lower the country’s level of lockdown in order to get the economic wheels turning again. According to Bloomberg News, the government may be forced to consider such steps before the month-end.

Rising poverty and the threat of prolonged economic recession is forcing the re-think, it said. Curbs could be relaxed in some provinces or areas with low infection rates, and retained in hotspots such as Cape Town.

Said Froneman: “What’s gone wrong is there’s a lack of alignment in cabinet. What we have now is a lack of leadership again.

“We had great leadership a few weeks ago. I realised we had a leader as president, but where is he now? This is the problem. As soon as there’s a lack of alignment, he’s not able to lead,” he said.

“We are going to have a lack of alignment around economic measures and what’s needed for the economy. I anticipate it’s going to get worse,” he said.