With a bit of luck, South Africa can be returned to a growth path following the involvement of top business leaders in a joint plan with the government to address the problems that are holding back economic growth, foreign investment and job creation.
The plan was announced after a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and business leaders, including the CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies. It followed criticism by business leaders of government failures that resulted in low economic growth, high unemployment and a drop in the value of the currency, the rand. Business confidence has plummeted.
A number of task teams have been formed, led by business leaders, to tackle the most important issues. High on the list are failing electricity supplies, poor rail and port infrastructure, rampant corruption and rising crime levels.
Business leaders will not only be contributing their management expertise. They will also be helping to fund the initiatives and will second skilled personnel, including accountants, engineers and technicians, to help out at state owned enterprises.
The Sunday Times was among the media outlets welcoming the development. It said the plan acknowledged that fixing South Africa could not be left to the state alone.
“It’s self-defeating for government and business to shout at each other when they should be joining hands and working together for the good of the country. The economy grew by 0.4% in the last quarter, a figure too low to create the jobs we badly need,” the newspaper commented.
One of the senior executives involved, Jannie Durand, CEO of investment holdings company Remgro, set out in an interview published by Moneyweb how the meeting came about, and what they aimed to achieve. And he ended on a positive note saying people should view this development “with confidence that we in South Africa can fix things – at least from the side of business”.
Delivery on this month’s promises may be a while away. But the country badly needs a dose of optimism and hope for the future. The new spirit of co-operation can provide just that.