Business in South Africa has not been this hopeful about the future of the country in years, Business Leadership CEO Bonang Mohale said at a pre-World Economic Forum (WEF) briefing on Thursday.
He highlighted that while the country was below investment grade, the recent African National Congress presidential election has further paved the way for companies to continue investing in the country.
“We acknowledge the challenges that we [face], especially in State-owned enterprises. Eskom faces around a R5-billion overhang and in the next few days they need to come up with R23-billion to meet their [debts]. Most of those are covered by banks, who are our members,” he pointed out.
He called on government to act with integrity, partiality and objectivity when implementing its solutions to the Eskom crisis.
“I think we’ve got an amazingly good story to tell. First that the winds of change have landed,” Mohale enthused.
However, he believed that negative credit ratings actions could have been avoided had the required structural reforms necessary to underpin sustained and inclusive economic growth been implemented, while policy uncertainty would further hamper economic growth and employment.
“The upcoming WEF meetings present a great platform for us to demonstrate tangible change and to renew international confidence in our economy. We shouldn’t squander this opportunity. We strongly believe the focus will be on institutional strength, fiscal discipline, regulatory and policy certainty and clear plans to reignite growth,” said Mohale.
BLSA also called for political intent to deal with the challenges of State capture and corruption. He also voiced the organisation’s support for the independence of critical public institutions such as the National Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank and the criminal justice system.
“We believe that, as complex as the challenges we face are, with demonstrable ethical and inspirational leadership and collaboration we can send out a strong message that South Africa is open for business, thereby achieving our common vision of job creation and sustainable inclusive economic growth for the benefit of all South Africans,” he added.