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South Africa needs govt to play its role in getting the country working – BLSA

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South Africa needs govt to play its role in getting the country working – BLSA

5th December 2022

By: Schalk Burger
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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Government plays an enormous role in delivering supportive policy, institutions that operate efficiently and with integrity and, above all, a capable State to support the work of organised business, which is focused on getting South Africa working, says business organisation Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso.

"We have been making progress – though not as fast as I would like – in implementing a reform agenda that will grow the economy, create jobs and ensure a more prosperous future.

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"However, progress appeared to be at risk in the political drama of the past few days. The collapse of the rand and the value of South Africa’s traded debt last Thursday showed how concerned investors were," she adds.

This is an indication that South Africa has not yet delivered the extent of institutional rebuilding that is needed, she states, adding that all stakeholders in South Africa's future should be comfortable that the institutions of government and civil society are robust and capable.

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"We should have confidence that the party and the State really are separate, that the institutions of government are not suddenly at risk because of who has political power. Should there be a change in political leadership, we should be comfortable that there will be a well-managed transition," she emphasises.

The hard work that BLSA and others have put into driving the reform agenda and working with government to solve the country's persistent structural constraints cannot be held hostage to "political surprises", Mavuso says.

There has been a lot of work done over the past few years to restore the criminal justice system in particular – work that is far from complete – and South Africa needs the political system at large to affirm how important this is.

"We need to continue the programme of rebuilding the capable State, professionalising the civil service to ensure it can deliver efficient services to our people," she emphasises.

Over the past few days, there has been understandable contestation within the ANC as it has digested the report from the Section 89 panel convened to Parliament into the Phala Phala matter.

"Many of us were left with the impression that the country was being put second as factions took to social media to opine on the report and its impact.

"There should be no dispute that it is important to reassure the country that good governance is not at risk. Whoever is in leadership, the commitment to rebuilding the criminal justice system must be unwavering," Mavuso says.

The reforms needed to fix the key challenges facing South Africa's economy, including the restructuring of the electricity sector and the logistics system, must be publicly reaffirmed, she adds.

"The important Operation Vulindlela programme must be given clear political support and its work championed.

"These are not political questions. Operation Vulindlela has been tasked with implementing agreed policy and working on solving blockages to do so. The country cannot undermine that progress and risk new blockages," she notes.

"The report was an opportunity for our political leaders to double down on their commitment to the institutions of our country. The response to the report should have been that the established processes will follow, with the appropriate institutions empowered to do their work to assess the evidence and take further action as required by law.

"Above all, there should have been affirmation that the reform agenda will be unaffected and that, if there is a change in leadership, it should be managed appropriately to ensure the work of government will continue as is," she adds.

Mavuso states that South Africa must keep its eyes on the prize and must stick with the programme of reform to deliver economic growth and development. The country needs clear communications from all political leaders to signal their unwavering commitment to that objective so that confidence is not undermined.

"The message from business leadership is: give us certainty and ensure a clear and orderly process will follow from here, one that will build rather than risk the institutions of state," Mavuso says.

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