Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) welcomes the positive sentiment and message of the inaugural State of the Nation (SONA) by President Cyril Ramaphosa, especially the determination to eradicate state capture, corruption and restore investor confidence and rule of law.
Simultaneously, BLSA has renewed its pledge to partner with government and other social partners in realising the bold, but achievable, goals articulated in SONA.
Bonang Mohale, CEO of BLSA, said: “We are very encouraged by what the President has said, and we believe most of what is contained in his speech is achievable with political will and resolve which we believe Mr Ramaphosa brings to the high office. He now needs to assemble an equally competent and capable team, including a deputy with unimpeachable integrity, to assist him in delivering on these commitments.”
BLSA is pleased that the President has prioritised resetting the relationship among all social partners. “Throughout our engagement with government, we’ve emphasised that none of the social partners, including business as the major single contributor to employment and economic output and tax revenues, can, on its own, resolve all the challenges we face as a nation especially poverty, inequality and unemployment especially amongst our youth,” Mohale said.
“For our part, a lot of work has already been done by our members as part of the CEO Initiative to, among other things, formulate the YES (Youth Employment Service) programme to address the unemployment issue among young people. Time has been invested in progressing this project on the part of business, which up to now has been awaiting finalisation of the gazette and details of its qualification by the Department of Trade and Industry. As such we welcome the communicated urgency by the president that he will prioritise the finalisation of this project,” said Dr Jabu Mabuza, chairman of BLSA.
“We welcome the candid articulation and characterisation by the president of the crisis gripping our major state-owned enterprises. The consensual manner with which the board of Eskom was composed represents a model that can be used in addressing the governance and leadership of SOEs,” Mohale said.
BLSA welcomes the positive reinforcements contained in the statement made, including the following stated priorities:
- Confronting state capture and corruption through the immediate prioritisation of the Zondo commission of inquiry. This is key to doing away with maladministration that undermines the state’s objectives. “We call on all South Africans to cooperate with the Commission,” Mohale said.
- Restoring the credibility of public institutions, including dealing with leadership issues in our key institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority and the SA Revenue Service and the commitment to establish a commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance at SARS. Addressing the credibility of revenue collection capacity can assist in measures that enhance growth.
- Restoration of our SOEs, particularly looking at their funding models, which if achieved, will greatly improve our fiscal position.
“The address hit all the right notes in terms of what we believe are the key fundamentals to rebuild investor and business confidence, stimulate growth and ultimately set the country for sustained success. Business stands ready to work with government to achieve the stated objectives,” said Dr Mabuza.
“We welcome the steps announced by the President to ensure policy certainty on critical policies like mining and energy, the national health insurance and the issue of funding free higher education,” Mohale said.
“Our preference would have been an announcement to immediately suspend plans to consider the procurement of nuclear energy until our economy has recovered and is growing at sustainable levels,” Mohale said.
BLSA, which has been working on an emergency economic recovery plan with other stakeholders, has promised to share details of the plan, Recovering our Future, with the new administration in coming weeks.
“In BLSA, the new administration has a willing, capable partner to pull our economy from the brink of collapse under the weight of corruption, incompetence and maladministration,” Mohale said.
He added: “All the positive, practical and achievable plans announced by the President will come to naught if the President doesn’t free his administration from colleagues who face serious corruption allegations and those who are plainly incompetent, lazy and unqualified for the jobs they’re in.”