Simon Susman, the chairman of Woolworths, has become the latest big businessman to stick his head above the parapet. Speaking this week at the release of the Woolworths group’s annual report he got right down to the nitty gritty: “Our country needs a fresh economic philosophy to ignite its true growth potential.
“It would be an oversight on our part not to address this issue. The Woolworths group generated over 23 000 direct jobs in South Africa and probably double that throughout our supply chain. We pay R1 billion in taxes and believe we make a material difference to the lives of millions in this country,” he said.
“Like most businesses, we watch with deep concern the flow of restrictive, populist legislation being imposed on commerce in South Africa. Most of this… on the restrictive labour and trade practice front, is materially [having an] impact [on] job and small business generation. It is as if those in work are conspiring with [the] government to keep the unemployed out of work and out of the markets.”
He then went on to make an even more telling point: “It is only by growing private enterprise, large and small, that the fiscus’s coffers can be fed. It is business that creates the sustainable jobs and the new industries this country so badly needs.
“An ever more centralised government stranglehold on industry cannot do this. Our future customers will only come from a more liberalised economy where government and business share a vision of growth – a strengthened, not weakened, National Development Plan.”
He noted that there was a “fledgling engagement” between the Presidency and organised business. “We are encouraged by this and strongly urge the government to progress this bilateral engagement rapidly. Our country needs a fresh economic philosophy to ignite its true growth potential.”
It is the sort of music to the ears already uttered by Investec chief executive Stephen Koseff, Sanlam chief executive Johan van Zyl and Nedbank chairman Reuel Khoza over the past year or so. May it become a thunderous message to the government.
State oil and gas firm PetroSA has been rumoured for some time to be poised to acquire a stake in the operations of Engen, which has extensive retail and forecourt interests in South Africa.
Significantly, Engen is 80 percent owned by Malaysian state oil company Petronas, while black empowerment group Pembani owns the rest.
DA MP Jacques Smalle asked Energy Minister Ben Martins what were the benefits and risks of PetroSA acquiring a controlling stake in Engen and when would PetroSA complete its due diligence.
Martins replied: “Providing a detailed response to this question may be premature as it may jeopardise whatever negotiations PetroSA is engaged in with potential acquisition targets. At an appropriate time, my ministry will pronounce on how PetroSA will contribute further to energy security in this country.”
He added: “Going public at a time when sensitive discussions are ongoing puts PetroSA at a commercial disadvantage.”
PetroSA spokesman Thabo Mabaso said PetroSA had indicated that it was willing to venture into the downstream market and was speaking to various parties. Engen declined to comment, while PetroSA corporate services head Kaizer Nyatsumba said earlier this year that PetroSA was looking to acquire “a majority stake” in one of the petrol station operators. It seems that members of the public, who by association own state-owned companies, will be the last to know what the state company is buying out what or whom.
Do you remember a time when the acronym DNA was used to refer only to the material in your cells and when the term multiple personas denoted a person suffering from schizophrenia?
MasterCard says in its quirky introduction to the results of its “Around the world in five personas” study, published yesterday, that digital consumers worldwide masquerade as different personas online from their real world identity – seriously.
“Consumers shed their real-world identities when they go online to assume digital personas that better reflect how they feel, what actions they take around their personal information and how much value they place on their own data,” according to the research.
More than 9 000 digital consumers in nine markets, including South Africa, were surveyed. Nearly 2.5 billion people use the internet daily, according to Theodore Iacobuzio, the vice-president of MasterCard’s Global Insights group.
The study highlighted five personas that consumers assume online.
“Open sharers” tend to be male, visit the internet more than 10 times daily, are less averse to risk and want deals in exchange for information. “Simply interactors” are the most dedicated social networkers, yet they are not particularly tech-savvy consumers even though they are aware of targeted marketing.
“Solely shoppers” rely on the internet for savvy shopping research and purchases. They have a low awareness of target marketing.
“Passive users” are not fully convinced of the internet’s value and tend to spend the least amount of time online of all the personas. They are more likely to shop from their mobile devices and are more willing to trade their personal data for something in return.
“Proactive protectors”, compromising 17 percent of all online consumers, are highly aware of targeted marketing. About 82 percent know that marketers can target them based on their search and browsing history. They are unlikely to use social networks and are the most guarded with their privacy settings. They take steps to protect and control their digital footprint.
Which persona are you? A quiz is available at: www.5personas.mastercard.com.
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Donwald Pressly and Asha