Last month, business made its voice heard with a clear and simple message: Business Believes in South Africa.

In Alexandra, we launched a “Contract with South Africa” to demonstrate how we, too, want inclusive growth and transformation.

Central to that contract is our commitment to create jobs.

Research reveals South Africans are deeply pessimistic, with lack of access to jobs, poverty, corruption and nepotism amongst key concerns. Many of the nine million South Africans without work think it’s virtually impossible to get a job, and partly blame it on rife corruption. And they think the jobs of the 16 million employed are poorly paid.

This leads to huge disillusionment, with both business and government in the line of fire. However, business is seen as effective at creating and providing access to jobs, in contrast with the nepotism often associated with government jobs.

We need growth of over 3% per annum on average. The current under-1% levels just don’t cut it.

When business and Cosatu leaders met in June, we concluded urgent action is necessary to end unemployment, poverty and inequality. That dialogue identified a growth and transformation agenda:

  • Increasing economic competitiveness;
  • Significant job creation from the correct mix of special economic zones; regulation; incentives; trade; fiscal and labour policy co-ordination; and functioning state-owned enterprises;
  • The significance of the proposed youth employment service programme in providing quality work experience for one million youth interns over three years;
  • Opportunities for broad-based empowerment and the promotion of black industrialists;
  • Development of small and medium enterprises and job creation with a R1.5bn contribution by business to an SME fund;
  • Optimal corporate governance, including worker representation;
  • Remuneration structures to narrow inequality through a minimum wage; and
  • The redress of marginalisation and poverty through land and rural reform.

That meeting also highlighted the effect of corruption and “state capture”:

  • The hollowing out of central government, provincial and municipal capacity to provide public services;
  • The failure to ensure law enforcement;
  • Attack on the integrity and functioning of SEOs, as recently seen at Eskom and SAA;
  • The attack on the integrity and function of SOEs;
  • The uninformed regulatory assault on various sectors, particularly mining; and
  • Uncertainty and loss of investor and consumer confidence caused by actions such as the March cabinet reshuffle and the attack on Reserve Bank independence.

We now need:

  • An urgent, independent commission of inquiry into state capture;
  • To replace the entire Eskom board;
  • The appointment of competent and scrupulous professionals to lead the police, Hawks, NPA and South African Revenue Service; and
  • Increased accountability of politically elected leaders.

A new period of dynamism now hinges on the success of South Africans effectively defeating “state capture” in its entirety. Once this has been achieved, business can set about joining our partners in creating millions of jobs.

Colin Coleman is a Partner Managing Director, Goldman Sachs International and a Board Member of Business Leadership SA

Published in Business Times, Sunday Times (10 September 2017)

View article here.