Business Unit of South Africa (Busa) chairperson Sipho Pityana officially opening the Busa 2nd Business Economic Indaba in Sandton Johannesburg. Pityana said the economic crisis, especially the lack of energy security, demanded urgency, agility, quick-footed responses. Photo Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to grab the bull by the horns and take decisive action in dealing with the challenges facing the economy.

Busa president Sipho Pityana said on Tuesday that the economic crisis in South Africa, especially the lack of energy security, demanded urgency, agility, quick-footed responses and yet humble and thoughtful stewardship.

“As businesses, we welcome President Ramaphosa’s open and inclusive leadership style,” Pityana said. “We would, however, caution against an overemphasis on leadership by consensus for this can condemn our nation to move at the pace of the slowest and the most conservative; or worst still being vetoed by an unaccountable lot.”

Eskom has been a bane of the economy and has caused so much distress for the business community by failing to ensure a stable supply of electricity in recent years.

The mining industry, for one, was heavily impacted last month when Eskom implemented an unprecedented stage 6 load shedding, forcing companies to suspend underground operations and halt production.

Pityana, speaking at the opening of the second annual Business Economic Indaba 2020, said that it was time that the government took a firm stand on resolving the energy crisis in the country.

He said Ramaphosa should refrain from making promises which cannot be guaranteed but instead focus on implementing solutions.

“The crisis we find ourselves in demands credible, single-minded, resolute and decisive leadership that sets the tone, determines the direction and pulls the nation with it,” Pityana said.

“We urge the President – as we do all leaders in society, including those present here today – to resist the temptation to make false promises to our people as that will result in the further erosion of public trust. 

“Although urgent action will shorten the painful journey ahead of us, there must be no pretence that there are quick fixes.”

Last week, deputy president David Mabuza said the Eskom board misled Ramaphosa was about power cuts and the problems facing power utility when it implemented stage 6 load shedding for the first time in December.

Ramaphosa had thus promised, as assured by Eskom, that there will not be load shedding until January 13, which ultimately did not happen when Eskom started implementing load shedding on 4 January. 

BUSA has outlined five key focus areas that will be workshopped for the bulk of the day, including energy security, enabling a capable state, critical sectors for economic growth, the structure of the economy, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the BEI later in the afternoon following his attending the official funeral of the late business magnate, Dr Richard Maponya, in Soweto.