When the South African democratic government appointed a panel of eminent persons to contribute toward the development of the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP), it did so fully cognisant of the enormous challenges it will face as it reconstructs our country, in line with the Constitution.
For more than 300 years, South Africa was ruled by a racially exclusive, discriminatory, and exploitative system. The majority of the citizens – in particular, Africans – were completely excluded from any economic development of this country. Undoing this was never going to be as easy as some may want us to believe.
The view that has been advanced by some individuals, that this country is a poor investment destination, rings hollow and fails to appreciate what the government has done over such a short period, and what it continues to do in taking the country forward.
South Africa has a roadmap to build the economy spelt out in NDP. It may not be perfect, but it continues to be a guide in our vision to tackle the triple challenges facing the country – poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
Under the stewardship of President Cyril Ramaphosa, his R1.2 trillion investment drive, announced four years ago, has reached an impressive 95 % of this ambitious target. Both domestic and foreign investors continue to see South Africa as an investment destination. Numbers do not lie.
From the first South Africa Investment Conference, in 2018, until the fourth one, in 2022, the country has attracted more than R1.14 trillion in commitments, across a wide range of economic sectors. These investments are deliberate and calculated decisions by investors.
They continue to view South Africa as a potential investment destination. The incoming investors display a strong vote of confidence in our ability to overcome our most pressing challenges, some of which are linked to the legacy of apartheid.
When engaging with potential investors, the government has never extenuated the existing socio-economic and political problems affecting the country. The government openly and unstintingly acknowledges that it is gradually emerging out of a very difficult period, where policy missteps and the unfortunate ruinous effects of state capture have retarded its progress.
The ambitious investment efforts are emboldened by the high-profile political mandate, led by President Ramaphosa and his executive, to unequivocally build investor confidence and create a business-friendly environment. President Ramaphosa continues to lead this drive with honesty and keeping to his word in navigating through these challenges towards growing the economy, and creating the much-needed jobs.
As an economic hub and gateway for potential investors and tourists alike, South Africa has unveiled the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) to mitigate the socio-economic setbacks that were aggravated by the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The ERRP remains our immediate common programme to rebuild the economy, sustain economic growth, and create enough jobs to reduce poverty and inequality.
Operation Vulindlela is an innovative intervention led by the Presidency and National Treasury, to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms and support economic recovery. It aims to modernise and transform network industries, including electricity, water, transport, and digital communications, which are key sectors in driving economic growth.
The government remains steadfast in dealing with the constrained electricity supply. It has since undertaken several new energy generation projects, which will eventually end the intermittent load shedding in the country. Such interventions in the energy sector include unbundling Eskom into three entities – transmission, distribution, and generation.
Tackling other constraints, such as corruption, strengthening governance, improving revenue collection, and creating a safe and secure environment, remains part of the government intervention measures.
As investments translate into new factories, and jobs in communities, greater economic activity around the country will begin to reignite economic growth and boost confidence in post-Covid-19 economic recovery.
The responsibility to create a conducive environment that attracts inward investment does not rely on the government alone. South Africans have a vested interest in promoting the country in a globally competitive environment. People must be reminded that this shared responsibility is out there for everyone to see, and commend the patriotism we continue to see.
As I conclude, let me commend communities who continue to work with law enforcement agencies, to expose those who continue to vandalise our economic infrastructures; communities that continue to pay for the services they are provided with, and rally others to do so; investigative journalists that continue to expose acts of corruption, in both the private and public sectors; non-governmental organisations that continue to intervene in communities and build much needed social cohesion.
Let me also commend the men and women, who continue to harness our young democracy, by exercising their democratic right to go out every five years to vote for the government of their choice. The men and women, who hold public servants accountable for delivering what they are being paid for.
The situation may appear dire to some, but significant inroads continue to be made by the government, business, civil society, media, and patriotic citizens. This augurs well for the better future we envisage for us and future generations.
* Ms Phumla Williams is the director-general of the GCIS, which has the mandate to, among others, communicate the country’s economic recovery trajectory.