Post-December 19 2017, we were gifted with a new president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, who then went on to become the president of the country.
Some big things needed to be addressed:
- To root out and defeat state capture.
- To reduce our debt. It is unsustainable.
- To fix our state owned enterprises because the majority of them are trading recklessly.
- Reduce the size of government, including civil servants, cabinet and state owned enterprises.
- Focus and become deliberate about our educational system, because we are the only country in Africa that did not improve the educational system that it inherited from colonialism.
I think the public and private sector are now forced to work together. There is no economy anywhere else in the world that has ever attempted that type of social experiment that we are attempting without the two working hand-in-glove.
From President Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal to Germany and, indeed, the EU’s Marshall Plan and now our own New Dawn.
We have to work with the private sector because the private sector has a disproportionate voice and disproportionate resources.
For instance, for 15 million people that are gainfully employed 13.5 million of them are employed by the private sector and the government directly employs 1.3 million. If you expand it to provinces and to local municipalities it is still less than 2.3 million.
So the 17 million people that are on social security will only come out of that self-perpetuating vicious cycle of abject poverty when we create jobs and the economy grows.
And indeed, when our own people have gained their own self-worth, self-respect and they are able to fend for themselves and indeed their families.
The steps we need to take as South Africans to realise, are what we call, “Six big burning platform issues”.
Business need to take the lead on land reform not just on expropriation without compensation.
We need to take a lead on transformation, because this economy ought to be broadly reflective of the demographics.
We need to grow this economy, because if the economy is not growing you cannot create jobs.
You cannot attempt to deal with the stubbornly high levels of unemployment, which lead to increasing levels of poverty and increasing levels of inequality.
When the economy is growing then we are able to do much, much more than what we are currently doing.
Root out the state capture. If we had kept the trajectory of growth from Nelson Mandela to the 27 consecutive quarters of positive (gross domestic product) GDP growth, the GDP would have doubled and unemployment would have halved.
We need to be absolutely deliberate about youth unemployment. I think it’s a ticking time bomb.
Business really believes in South Africa. It is heavily invested in this country. Business sees no future other than in this country.
Our performance is lagging our potential.
Business knows that with very little effort we can get that type of double-digit growth numbers that we see in the rest of the continent.
This is an edited version of the speech given by Bonang Mohale, the chief executive of Business Unity South Africa at the National Business Awards last week.