ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

Cape Town - Boost investor confidence by the decisions you take at Mangaung, Business Unity SA (Busa) has told the ANC .

A combination of global and domestic factors had combined to produce a situation which had a strong negative effect on South Africa’s economic performance, growth and job creation and which needed to be addressed at a political level, it said.

“In order to help meet… pressing socio-economic challenges, the Mangaung conference needs to take in key decisions that will boost investor confidence needed to underpin higher growth and employment.”

Busa hoped that “policy certainty” would emerge from the conference, and that “the overall message from the conference would be positive and confidence building for the country in general - and business in particular”.

The backdrop was that the global economic crisis remained unresolved.

Exacerbating this, were “significant domestic developments that have impacted on the economic outlook and confidence”.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said unemployment, inequality and poverty remained the ANC’s most crucial challenges, but Busa cited education and corruption, saying it was committed to co-operating with the government in standing up to these challenges.

The Presidency sought to put a positive spin on warnings from business and religious leaders that the country was “in danger of unravelling” and unhappiness over leaders who had lost their “moral compass”.

The ANC, meanwhile, slammed what it said were attempts to influence the outcome of its conference at Mangaung, starting on Sunday.

Responding separately to an open letter from 33 business leaders published in Sunday newspapers and a letter from top clerics addressed to President Jacob Zuma, presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said on Tuesday the government was “committed to working with all stakeholders” and that “building South Africa is a collective responsibility and all sectors have an important role to play”.

Independent Newspapers reported on Tuesday that church leaders including Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Bishop Jo Seoka of the SA Council of Churches, Reverend Moss Ntlha of the Evangelical Alliance of SA and Reverend Edwin Arrison of Kairos Southern Africa had written to Zuma, warning that if leaders didn’t act to stop the moral decay, the churches would mobilise civil society to “bring about a more healthy democracy”.

Business leaders including Business Leadership SA chief executive Thero Setiloane, Anglogold chief executive Mark Cutifani, Black Management Forum president and Shell chairman Bonang Mohale, Vodacom chairman Peter Moyo and Anglo American Platinum chief executive Chris Griffith wrote in their open letter that there was “a strong sense that we have lost our momentum”.

They said poverty, unemployment, pervasive corruption and failures in the education system and the rule of law remained “serious challenges”. This called for a common response to put the country back on track.

Maharaj thanked the religious leaders “for raising the issues that they have raised as part of the debate of making South Africa a better place”.

He pointed out that Zuma had met the National Religious Leaders Council in November “to discuss challenges facing the country”.

They had agreed to hold a summit in the new year to enable the “faith-based sector” to contribute to making South Africa “a better place for all”.

Responding to the letter from business leaders, Maharaj said the Presidency “welcomes inputs into the discussions on how to build the economy and in particular ensure labour-absorbing growth that will take us further in dealing with poverty, in- equality and unemployment”.

Cape Argus