A downgrade is likely on the cards for SA, said Hart, who was embroiled in a Twitter row and subsequently resigned from Standard Bank following harsh criticism.
“I think the downgrade is baked in the cake. There is nothing I can see that is on the table that is going to prevent that from happening and that is a shame.”
He said escalating taxes and tightening regulations were making it more costly to do business in the country.
“We need to find ways on how to make SA a more attractive destination for investors. Without economic growth, we are going to go backwards.”
The economy has been under strain, leading to a growth slowdown that has contributed to rising government debt, which, in turn, has resulted in agencies slashing the country’s rating to one notch above junk status.
The Treasury, South African Reserve Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank all forecast growth of less than 1% for this year.
Hart told Fin24 the offending tweet was meant to observe that the country is facing a pressure-cooker situation.
“We are not creating jobs and that is creating pressure, such as xenophobic violence and an increased reliance on the state.”
He said SA was capital-deficient and needed policies that help build capital.
“We need to move to substantial economic growth, which means we need to be an extremely favourable investment destination.”
“Racism doesn’t create jobs”
Commenting on SA’s future and the impact of racism, Hart said racism, like xenophobia, tribalism and homophobia, is an important issue that we need to stand against.
“I think it is all part of the same kind of hatred, which is something we need to be fighting against.”
With the elections looming, Hart warned against using racism as a tactic to direct attention away from service delivery, corruption and the state of the economy.
“My big concern at the moment is that we have a government that has under-delivered… and they are using racism as a deflection from actually focusing on what I call bread-and-butter issues,” he said.
“Of course, we have to deal with racism and we’ve got to be very vigilant against the prevalence of racism – and that I believe is across race groups – but we have to be mindful that we can’t eat racism. Racism doesn’t create jobs.”