Reuel Khoza’s attack on government in his chairman’s statement accompanying Nedbank’s annual results for 2011 shows disingenuousness and that his books aren’t exactly balanced.
He amongst others opined that “our political leadership’s moral quotient is degenerating and we are fast losing the checks and balances that are necessary to prevent a recurrence of the past”.
It would help if Dr Khoza were to expand on his allegations and tell us all exactly which checks and balances are being lost so “fast” and which recurrence of the past – and which past – he fears so much.
It would also help if he were to explain why he charactizes the country’s leadership as putative – or alleged or supposed – in his statement, which shares the Nedbank annual results document pack with an overview reflecting a significantly more positive, or at least expectant, disposition among management.
The bank’s economic outlook says: “Given that confidence is anticipated to remain fragile, private sector fixed-investment activity is expected to remain modest. However, government and public corporations are forecast to escalate their infrastructure spending, which should contribute to improved wholesale advances growth.”
Are we right to assume that the same “putative” political leadership is behind the infrastructure investment drive which Nedbank views as a business opportunity at a time when “private sector fixed-investment activity is expected to remain modest”, Dr Khoza?
Given Dr Khoza’s putative concern about the state or levels of public accountability, it is only fair to ask to what extent his statement reflects the views and beliefs of his illustrious and diverse board which now includes eminent champions of transformation; or is he out on a lone frolic here?
Dr Khoza insinuates that our political leadership is incapable; rich, coming from a Nedbanker who has failed to surpass the transformation record of former chair, Mr Chris Liebenberg under whose stewardship Peoples Bank was established with black people occupying meaningful positions.
With Dr Khoza in the chair, Nedbank is the only bank among the Big 4 that has yet to find a black person or a woman for the role of Chief Executive. It is also under Dr Khoza's leadership that the Chief Financial Officer – a black woman – does not have a critical area like balance sheet management in her responsibility portfolio.
This brings into question the substance of the extraordinarily high BBBEE score on which Nedbank prides itself.
This government has championed various platforms of transformation – including employment equity – that has made it possible for the likes of Dr Khoza to rise to the kind of position he now leverages to insult government and question the choices close on two-thirds of the electorate exercised in 2009.
Why is Dr Khoza collapsing the very ladder he has ascended and allowing himself to be assimilated into an unprogressive, paranoid mindset?
How is this past likely to recur when the dividends of democracy continue to be paid out daily to all South Africans?
President Jacob Zuma reminded us with the 2012 State of the Nation Address of the road we’ve travelled as well as our country’s prospects for the period ahead and he clearly articulated that Poverty, Inequality and Unemployment are the key challenges facing South Africa.
The President highlighted how, during 2011, a total of 365 000 people had been employed in the country’s best employment performance since the recession of 2008.
In 2011, government had announced R20 billion’s worth of incentives under Section 12(i) of the Income Tax Act, designed to support new industrial projects and manufacturing, and seven projects with an investment value of R8,4 billion were approved.
In 2011, the Industrial Development Corporation set aside R10 billion. By February this year, R1,5 billion had been approved for 60 companies to promote job creation.
Building on annual expenditure of around R300 billion on public infrastructure, government will maintain this pace of investment in the coming years, stimulating economic activity in various sectors.
R300 million has been allocated for the preparatory work towards building new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.
Another infrastructure project with great potential is South Africa’s bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope in partnership with eight other African countries.
In the area of safety, the Statistics SA Victims of Crime Survey of 2011 confirms that the general perception by South Africans is that crime is indeed being brought under control.
More than 40% of households surveyed believe that the level of both violent and non-violent crime decreased in their area of residence from 2008 to 2010.
The Anti-Corruption Task Team constituted by representatives from the security agencies is currently investigating 45 corruption related priority cases against 151 accused persons, and assets in excess of R600 million have been seized.
More than R1 billion worth of assets obtained through illicit means have been forfeited to the state in the past two years.
Meanwhile, since the inception of the National Anti-corruption Hotline which is managed by the Public Service Commission, a total of 1 499 officials were charged with misconduct for corrupt activities at national and provincial government levels.
And then, in an area that may be closer to home for the chairman of Nedbank, President Zuma announced that from this month, April, people earning between R3 500 and R15 000 would be able to obtain a subsidy of up to R83 000 from provinces, enabling them to obtain housing finance from an accredited bank.
Will the chairman’s misgivings about the nation’s political leadership in any way interfere with Nedbank’s extension of credit to newly bankable South Africans?
This “suspect” administration said in 2009 that government should pay small businesses within one month of receipt of a legitimate invoice.
To fast track timely payment for SMMEs, a call centre was established through the Small Enterprise Development Agency to facilitate payment within 30 days.
As of 15 December 2011, the Hotline Call Centre had answered in excess of 25 000 calls and facilitated payments in excess of R270 million to small enterprises. (One hopes Nedbank’s results may come to reflect the improved liquidity experienced by small businesses who are contracted to government.)
Dr Khoza would be better off adhering to his bank’s pay-off line – Make Things Happen – rather than arguing, with no evidence proffered, that things aren’t happening in our country or that we are about to succumb to a “recurrence of the past”.
Is Dr Khoza’s freedom of speech likely to be followed by an exercise in freedom of association on the part of Nedbank’s directors, shareholders and customers who may either express their support for the chairman or take their ideas and business elsewhere?
Dr Khoza you are party to the South African democracy, you have contributed towards the existence of the current democratic government which is of course open to constructive criticism because of being a government by the people and for the people. Your focus into the past, which reflects anger and bitterness does not help South Africans, except to replete our energy for the present and future betterment of our people's lives.
Dr Khoza, South Africa expects people with your experience to make valuable contributions by way of acknowledging the strides that South Africa has made through our current leadership and provide further suggestions. If you consider yourself a thinking person, that is the job of thinking people, to ensure the success of their government. You are duty-bound to help government anticipate a bright future for all South Africans by highlighting and emphasizing new possibilities, rather than attempting to discredit Government.