JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa begins preparations for his investment summit later this month on a high after securing backing from some of the country's biggest conglomerates to assist his jobs creation drive.
Ramaphosa also managed to secure commitments from organised businesses that all alternatives needed to be explored before retrenchments were effected.
Businesses also agreed to sacrifice executive salary hikes and forgo dividends.
The financial sector said it would invest R100 billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises as part of its transformation commitments.
Absa chief executive Maria Ramos said on the sidelines of the summit that it was a joint effort to turn the tide for the economy.
“The president (Ramaphosa) cannot do this on his own and the government can't do this on its own. We all have to put our shoulders to the wheel,” Ramos said, adding that the upcoming investment conference needed to be supported domestically.
However, the jury remains out on whether the two-day inaugural Jobs Summit would deliver the 275 000 annual jobs in a troubled economy that has fallen into technical recession.
NKC Research said the proposals to create new jobs while maintaining existing ones would put Ramaphosa’s credibility to the test.
“The summit will prove to be a critical credibility test for Ramaphosa and its success or failure will in no small part be influencing public perceptions of the president,” the group's Gary Van Staden said.
“But unless the government embarks on a fundamental rethink of the economy and what promotes real sustainable growth above 5 percent, this summit, like so many before it, is doomed to fail.”
The summit saw business, labour and government agreeing to more than 70 commitments aimed at unlocking job creation and boosting economic growth.
In the past few months the country has lost jobs with Statistics South Africa's quarterly report indicating that 69 000 people became jobless in the second quarter. The National Planning Commission confirmed that the government's plan to cut unemployment to single digits by 2030 would be impossible to realise.
But Ramos said the summit was a huge opportunity for South Africa to create jobs and improve business confidence.
“Domestic investment is where you start,” she said “We expect foreigners to come and invest here, well that is interesting if we don't invest in the country, who else will invest?”