The following text sets the context in which the briefing was given.
South Africa is currently going through turbulent times. The Rand remains weak, the ruling ANC party is in the middle of an increasingly vicious internal faction fight, allegations of state capture abound, the risk of a downgrade to junk status looms large, and violent protests have shut down communities across the country in the run-up to the August elections.
As well as all of the negative news, however, the last few months have also seen a number of very positive blows struck in favour of the country’s democratic institutions. In March 2016, for example, a Constitutional Court judgment found that President Jacob Zuma had ‘failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution’ over the Nkandla issue. In April the North Gauteng High Court declared invalid the 2009 decision to discontinue the prosecution of President Zuma for 783 charges of corruption, racketeering and fraud. While there are short-term uncertainties, therefore, there are strong signs that South Africa has the institutional strength to weather these storms, and significant opportunities exist for those firms that are able to successfully navigate these currently turbulent waters.
Sarah Lockwood is the South Africa consultant for Menas Associates’ ‘Ask our Experts’ service. She is a PhD Candidate and Presidential Scholar at Harvard University, where her research focuses on government accountability and political protest in post-apartheid South Africa. Fluent in French and Swahili, she has also worked extensively as a journalist in the region. Her previous consultancy work with Menas has involved analysing policy developments in South Africa and their impact on the mining and energy industry in the country, as well as providing detailed information on the possibility of further strikes within the mining sector.
Peter Leon co-chairs Herbert Smith Freehills’ Africa practice. Peter is independently rated as one of the world’s pre-eminent mining lawyers and his areas of expertise include mineral and petroleum regulation in developing countries, black economic empowerment and indigenisation law, international investment law and financial services regulation.