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In the first quarter, business and consumer confidence in the economy fell to lows last seen in 1985. A recession seemed imminent, with slow economic growth and the negative effects of state capture compounding the impact of hundreds of hours of load shedding and the repercussions of prolonged mining strikes. The temptation to move businesses and investments offshore was great.

Many challenges remain, and it will take time for South Africa to shake off the effects of many years of stagnation. At Old Mutual Corporate Consulting, we believe it is every South African's responsibility to contribute to building a country that is prosperous and provides opportunities for its children to obtain a globally competitive education, for its citizens to find meaningful work, and for families to have a safe and secure place to live and to enjoy uninterrupted access to basic services.

As consultants to many of the country's employers and their retirement funds, we believe we are in a position to contribute meaningfully to South Africa by ensuring that our members’ retirement savings are invested in building a sustainable future.

In any investment strategy, investment fundamentals are a prerequisite for investing. When such an investment strategy is based on a long-term horizon, as is the case for retirement savings, sustainability of the investments is also a critical factor.

Incorporating ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations into the investment strategy isn't just the right thing to do, it also has the potential to boost long-term returns from the strategy and contribute to building a better future.

Diversification, as they say, is the only free lunch, so it's important to have exposure to different asset classes, different sectors of the economy and also different geographical regions outside of South Africa. We don't, however, agree with the view that sensible investors should be investing all of their assets outside the country.

Unless you are planning to emigrate permanently, your future is inextricably linked to the future success of South Africa.

In the global village that planet earth has become, it is essential that, as a country, we invest in our capabilities and our competitive edge.

Retirement savings, and all other savings, provide the fuel to grow our economy, but only if they're directed to investments, companies, projects and funding opportunities that are predominantly focused on South Africa and are profitable, sustainable and well governed while managing their social and environmental impact.

As such we believe that regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act, while it isn’t perfect, allows a meaningful allocation to the rest of the world while allowing us as South Africans to invest in our country. If we are to make South Africa a globally competitive, high-growth society with successful and prosperous citizens, it’s up to our president, the rest of his government, our unions, corporate organisations and every single South African to take positive action.

Malusi Ndlovu is the general manager of Old Mutual Corporate Consulting.

BUSINESS REPORT