Pretoria - The South African business sector feels the government is not consulting it on key economic issues and decisions, President Jacob Zuma said in Pretoria on Sunday.
“Business said in all the activities we are not being engaged as business... we have views, thoughts and ideas we have to share,” Zuma told reporters after a four-hour meeting between government officials and business representatives.
The meeting had been fruitful, Zuma said at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House.
“As soon as that point was made I thought it was very important to organise this meeting as quickly as possible. It was important (to hold talks) so that business could express their feelings and for government to understand and clarify certain things.”
Sunday's meeting was attended by senior government officials including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.
Business was represented by the leadership of the Black Business Council (BBC) and Business Unity South Africa (Busa).
Busa president Jabu Mabuza pledged the business sector’s support for the National Development Plan (NDP).
“We are saying business unequivocally endorses the National Development Plan. We want to come to government and say these are the challenges that would stop us from contributing to growth,” he said.
“The meeting has been characterised by urgency (and a) quick, instant response from the president and we are very grateful,” said Mabuza.
The business community had asked for the meeting during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, last month.
By 203, the NDP would create a society where people had adequate access to water, electricity, healthcare, education, safety and jobs.
Mabuza said Sunday’s meeting was not only focusing on government’s role, but also zoomed in on the private sector’s contribution to the national economy.
“The elephant in the room was execution and implementation. As against to what are you doing as government, (we focused on) what it is that we as business can do with government, as a partner,” he said.
“Partners must respect each other, partners must speak with certain levels of sensitivity with and about each other,” said Mabuza.
He said key issues, including electricity supply, would be part of the deliberations. In the meantime, Mabuza said his organisation would consult with its constituency to identify key constraints.
At the conclusion of Sunday’s meeting, both parties - government and business - emerged as a united front, said BBC president Ndaba Ntsele.
“What we were saying to them (government), they understood. We have a common vision and a common purpose,” he said.
“What came out today is that everything we see as government and business must be one. I am happy we are at the same level of thinking, especially on the NDP... and it will create a lot of employment,” said Ntsele.
Zuma said the parties agreed to meet again within two months to further deliberate on the obstacles stifling the South African economy. - Sapa