BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May

BLSA’s CEO’s Weekly Newsletter – It is time for our politicians to put South Africa first

POSTED ON: June 2, 2024 IN by Admin
BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May

By Busisiwe Mavuso

We need a stable government that will continue the vital work that has already been done to put our economy on the right track to create jobs and tax revenue.

At this critical junction for our democracy, it is vital that our politicians put the country first. It is time for the women and men of integrity who wish to guide this country on the path to growth and prosperity stand up and provide leadership. We need a stable government that will continue the vital work that has already been done to put our economy on the right track to create jobs and tax revenue. We cannot afford any disruption to this momentum.

The results will be a shock to many politicians, but when it comes to what we as citizens need, nothing changes. We need jobs, we need the economy to grow, and we need to generate revenue that can be taxed.

To have that, we need a stable and reliable government, committed to the rule of law and economic reform. As the parties that are sending members to parliament seek a workable plan, they must be clear about what “workable” means. It must be capable of enduring – we do not need a spectacle of votes of no confidence and repeat elections that we see in some countries where coalitions are the norm. The deals struck now must be capable of going the distance for a full five-year term.

Critically, though, the deals struck now must underpin policy continuity – they must enable the government to stick to the fiscal prudence that we have managed to return to governance over the last few years, and they must maintain the reform momentum needed to get the economy growing. Key interventions like Operation Vulindlela must be embraced and strengthened. The next government must continue the hard work of rebuilding institutions, particularly the criminal justice system. As a country, we must continue to restore our international standing, escape the FATF grey list and improve the national balance sheet so we can one day regain an investment grade credit rating. These objectives must be clear for the next government if it is going to deliver for South Africans.

I am confident that many parties share these objectives, but I know also that some do not. We must be wary of populism. The majority of South Africans voted for parties that are committed to clean governance, retaining the integrity of the constitution and the rule of law, and continuing to protect and safeguard the independence of our democratic institutions, including the judiciary and the Reserve Bank. The business community and global investors are aligned with this majority.

I know that many in our country suffer in conditions they should never have to endure. For over five years citizens have been getting poorer on average as the economy has grown slower than the population. Unemployment has continued to grow. This is a distressing position to be in 30 years after democracy, especially when at the halfway point we had been growing at 5%, unemployment was under 20% and it felt like we were making progress. There are lots of reasons we lost that momentum, among them that our institutions and governance were systematically undermined. We have for the last few years begun to rebuild our institutions and enact reforms that will help facilitate increased investment and private participation. This takes time to result in improved economic performance – business confidence must be rebuilt and investors have to actually make the investment and build the capacity to take advantage of an improved environment. I know that we are at the beginning of that recovery, with electricity stability returning and a proactive plan to improve logistics and other network industries. Populism would risk once again destroying this momentum before it has been able to grow and deliver.

We need instead a recommitment to reforms and evidence-based policy making that does the hard work of getting institutions to work effectively. We need to continue the professionalisation and reskilling of the public sector, enabling improved frontline delivery from the most rural districts to the biggest metros. We need effective policy making from the top, with economic planning closely developed alongside fiscal policy to maximise economic outcomes. We need investment in infrastructure to improve the capacity of our economy.

The negotiations from now on must put these objectives front and centre. That is what putting South Africa first means. This is what South Africans deserve. We do not want the spectacle of parties putting their narrow ambitions first, even less so individual personalities doing so. We certainly do not need a government that will reverse the progress made. I hope that we can quickly find a resolution and get to work in building the country that we all deserve.


BLSA is a business organisation that believes in South Africa’s future and shares the values set out in the Constitution. BLSA is committed to playing its part in creating a South Africa of increasing prosperity for all by harnessing the resources and capabilities of business in partnership with government and civil society to deliver economic growth, transformation and inclusion.



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