THE South African government has missed the opportunity to use the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland to drive economic opportunities and employment – that’s the view of WEF veteran and industrialist Dr Iqbal Survé.
Survé was speaking ahead of the annual meeting of global business leaders in the resort town which brings together the world’s sharpest business minds.
The meeting takes place against a backdrop of an ailing economy and a rampant increase in unemployment in South Africa.
Survé said that given the current state of affairs in South Africa, it became hugely important to use the WEF meeting to drive economic reform.
“I am a firm believer that communication of your position to the world is the first step in developing your country.
“You must not just do this by hosting investment conferences, you do this by having access to those that have the capital in the world,” said Survé.
Survé said, tragically the government failed to do this.
“Wherever you go in the world, capital must invest.
“Now, tragically, in South Africa we have not been able to, under the leadership of our government, attract the kind of investment required to create jobs.
“Hence, we have massive unemployment,” he said.
He said whatever investment Ramaphosa speaks about is non-existent because it does not translate into job creation.
On the contrary, jobs are in fact lost.
“The WEF is that opportunity to sit with industry heads and to say to them, as South Africans, we want you to invest in our economy, but you need to have a united front when you do that as a government and others,” said Survé.
But according to Survé, South Africa has missed that opportunity with neither President Cyril Ramaphosa nor Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana scheduled to attend the forum’s meetings.
“We’ve lost the opportunity because at least one of them (Ramaphosa or Godongwana) should have come to Davos this year because that’s where you see the other presidents.
“That's where you see the other finance ministers, that’s where you see the captains of industry.
“If we think we can grow our economy in a vacuum, in isolation, it’s not going to work,” said Survé.