A VIBRANT, competitive and inclusive business sector is a necessary condition for higher levels of inclusive growth which should result in improving prosperity for all people of South Africa. This is one of the core beliefs as espoused in the strategy of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), which has been adopted by board of directors as well as council.
BLSA says that big business and large foreign investors have a responsibility to lead and act in the national interest ﬁrst, because it is patriotic and because business is indispensable in helping achieve national objectives. As a member-based organisation, BLSA seeks to leverage its collective strength to “get things done”. To achieve this strategy, BLSA has committed to prioritise initiatives that accelerate higher levels of inclusive growth that will result in job creation, economic inclusivity and transformation.
BLSA will also prioritise initiatives that safeguarding the constitution and the health and capacity of state institutions. “We need to take our place in civil society. We need to seek open public debate and build principled alliances with other social partners,” says BLSA Chief Executive Ofﬁcer, Busi Mavuso.
BLSA will be proactive and move when it believes it is right, with the emphasis on “doing” as opposed to “opining”. But to do that, BLSA recognises that it will have to be brave in public and as business, be collectively equipped and willing to engage broadly and deeply on
burning issues facing society and business, even when it is difﬁcult to do so. “We need to hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity. We are in this for the long-haul, not for the short term. We must be prepared to take risks and overcome difﬁcult challenges,” stresses Mavuso.
What then will be BLSA’s strategic focus?
BLSA’s purpose is to make South Africa good for enterprise and making enterprise good for South Africa. The objective of this is to ensure a conducive environment for business to grow the economy. Economically, South Africa has one most glaring problem and is low growth, the drivers of which are policy uncertainty and incoherence as well as political ﬂuidity. The ruling African National Congress
is beset with divisions and policy contradictions and this leads to low business conﬁdence and low level of investment. The other reality is that South Africa is still battling with lack or slow economic transformation. More than 25 years after freedom, the face of poverty remains largely black and that of wealth, white. “This is not sustainable,” cautions Mavuso. “We have a challenge as business to make sure that our growth is inclusive. We need to lift the poor with us as we rise. If we fail to do that, we will continue to be treated with cynicism.” For the next three years, BLSA wants to improve trust between business and all social partners – government, labour and civil society.
BLSA seeks to become the go-to partner in creating a better South Africa. BLSA will continue in supporting the efforts to eliminate state capture and rebuild state integrity and capability. It will support policies that attract investment and place the economy on a new trajectory capable of delivering GDP growth above 5%.
More importantly, BLSA will focus a lot of its energy in catalysing the creation of new skills and industries through supporting small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). “Business needs to fundamentally change the ways of working with government. As business we recommit ourselves to, and we will reset the platforms for shared economic leadership and public-private collaboration and partnership,” says Mavuso. “This can only happen, if key decision makers got together in order to go beyond discussions to take immediate action when it is needed,” adds Mavuso. If these things are done and everyone committed themselves, business will be positioned as a national asset that it should be.