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Mavuso warns populist politicking ahead of elections can harm reform efforts


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Mavuso warns populist politicking ahead of elections can harm reform efforts

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso
BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso

15th January 2024

By: Marleny Arnoldi
Deputy Editor Online


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Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso foresees a challenging year ahead for business, given the record number of elections that lie ahead.

This, coupled with an unprecedented level of geopolitical stress with the Russia/Ukraine and Israel/Hamas conflicts, is creating major uncertainty.


With South Africa being among the countries heading to the polls, Mavuso says political campaigns can often be a distraction to the business of running the country, particularly at a time when the economy faces numerous challenges.

She believes there is a heightened risk of populist policy being rushed through Parliament to add to the electioneering.


However, the passage of the unworkable National Health Insurance Bill shows how destructive such moves can be. President Cyril Ramaphosa stated over the weekend of January 13 that he will sign the Bill into law despite opposition.

Of course the law will never work, Mavuso states, explaining that there is no capacity to implement it. “As soon as it is signed, it will be embroiled in litigation on several fronts, including its Constitutionality.”

Nonetheless, she says business people are unsure whether they will be able to rely on the South African health system in the future, including health professionals.

With the economy poised to grow by only 1.5% this year, following 0.8% growth last year, the need to kickstart growth is obvious, but populist politicking can harm that effort, Mavuso explains.


Last year business and government renewed efforts to jointly work on the most pressing challenges for growth, including the electricity crisis, the logistics crisis, and crime and corruption.

Mavuso points out a pleasing announcement over the festive break was the appointment of a board for the Eskom transmission company, which is an important next step in its eventual unbundling to allow for a competitive and open electricity market.

Also during the break, the long-awaited draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was published, a document that has historically been important in planning out the country’s energy development needs.

The IRP is becoming less important as more electricity generation is taken on by the private sector, but it remains central to the vision for the future of the electricity system.

It is progress that the draft has been published, yet there is much that needs to be fixed in it to meet the principle of lowest cost in planning out the future of the electricity system, Mavuso says, adding that an effective consultation on the draft will be important to aligning stakeholders on a rational plan for the sector.

Mavuso highlights the importance of maintaining momentum in reform partnerships, and delivering on agreed priorities while election season unfolds.

The logistics crisis, for example, needs urgent steps to be taken between business, government, Transnet and other stakeholders to improve the efficiency of rail and port infrastructure.

The obstacles facing exporters, from vehicle manufacturering to minerals, are directly constraining economic activity, leading to lost jobs and lost revenue, including taxes.

Mavuso’s hope for 2024 is that there will be no distractions to deliver on the plans that have already been forged to fix the crucial network industry that is logistics.


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