Ramaphosa unveils 18-person economic brain trust

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday announced the members of his new Presidential Economic Advisory Council, an academic-heavy brain trust that he hopes will help spur inclusive growth.

The council, a non-statutory and independent body, will be chaired by Ramaphosa. Its 18 members – from South Africa and abroad - are appointed to serve three-year terms. They are not paid, but compensated for subsistence and travel.

The president first announced the idea for an economic advisory council 18 months ago during his maiden State of the Nation Address. At the time he said the council would work to "greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy".  

On Friday, Ramaphosa said the council would serve as a forum for "in-depth and structured discussions on emerging global and domestic developments". It will meet quarterly at first, before deciding on a timetable for meetings.

"The Council will also be instrumental in building a knowledge base of policy and implementation lessons, best practices and field-tested success stories," he said.

“These competent intellectuals have the potential to help guide South Africa to a new and more inclusive path of economic development that will foster economic growth and improve the living standards for all people."

Professor Adam Habib,the vice-chancellor and principal of Wits university, said the council was "one way in which universities can impact positively on society – through sharing and applying their skills and knowledge to benefit the public good.”  Four academics from the university have been appointed to the advisory body. 

The 18 members of the council are: 

  • Prof Benno Ndulu: Former governor of the Bank of Tanzania from 2008 until 2018.  
  • Prof Mzukisi Qobo: Professor of International Business at the University if the Witwatersrand.
  • Prof Dani Rodrik: Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
  • Prof Mariana Mazzucato: Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, and founding director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at the University College London.
  • Mamello Matikinca-Ngwenya: First National Bank Chief Economist.
  • Dr Renosi Mokate: Former Executive and Dean, University of South Africa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), and former Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank.
  • Dr Kenneth Creamer: Professor of Macroeconomics at Wits.
  • Prof Alan Hirsch: Professor and founding director of the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance (formerly the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice) at the University of Cape Town.
  • Prof Tania Ajam: Teaches public financial management at the University of Stellenbosch School of Public Leadership.
  • Dr Grové Steyn: Infrastructure and regulatory economist.
  • Mr Wandile Sihlobo: Agricultural Economist and Head of Agribusiness Research at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa.
  • Dr Liberty Mncube: Former Chief Economist at the Competition Commission and current scholar at Wits University.
  • Prof Fiona Tregenna: Professor in the Department of Economics and Econometrics at the University of Johannesburg.
  • Prof Haroon Bhorat: Professor of Economics and Director of the Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  • Mr Ayabonga Cawe: Development economist and former Economic Justice Manager at Oxfam South Africa.
  • Prof Vusi Gumede: Former chief policy analyst in the Presidency’s Policy Coordination and Advisory Service, and founding director of the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute at the University of South Africa.
  • Dr Thabi Leoka: An economist who has worked for various organisations in the financial sector.
  • Prof Imraan Valodia: Economist and Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of Witwatersrand.

Ramaphosa said the presidency is in the process of finalising the appointment of a "seasoned economist and leader from West Africa" who has accepted an invitation for her to serve as a member of the Council.