BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May

BLSA’s CEO’s Weekly Newsletter – We need ministers who take the job of delivering seriously

POSTED ON: June 23, 2024 IN by Admin
BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May BLSA CEO's weekly - 3 May

By Busisiwe Mavuso

Professionalism needs to start at the top – we need ministers who take the job of delivering seriously.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration speech last week struck exactly the right note for this moment in our democratic history. The president said voters had shown they want a “transformed, growing and inclusive economy that creates jobs for millions of job seekers and business opportunities to all entrepreneurs in our nation”. The election showed the people “choose peace and democracy over violent, undemocratic and unconstitutional methods” and he promised as president to work with everyone to find solutions to the challenges our country faces.

It was the speech of a true statesman, focusing on unity. He pushed us to work together to build an economy that provides the means for people to live the lives they want. Through the government of national unity, the president promised to build a government that is “capable and honest” that can deliver quality services and achieve the aspirations of the nation.

As I was writing this over the weekend, negotiations were ongoing between political parties that are joining the government of national unity on who will join the cabinet and what portfolios they should lead. That call of the president to focus on the capabilities and integrity of people should guide the choices over who should lead government departments. There will naturally be a difficult balance to strike between the competitive nature of democratic politics and the need for people to work together to deliver. Once the cabinet is appointed, the new ministers and deputy ministers must be able to put party politics aside and focus on getting the job done. We do not need any wheels to be reinvented – in many areas, we know exactly what needs to be done, the job must be to get on with implementing it. Indeed, there is important work that is well advanced that we must remain focused on concluding.

As in business, negotiations on joint ventures and mergers are difficult. Both sides must feel they are getting a good deal. It is important to ensure the other side does feel that it is gaining, which means ensuring that their stakeholders see the upside. No party will want to risk the ire of its voters by doing a deal voters don’t like. So, it is important in the negotiation to support the other side in pitching the deal to its constituency. Many potential deals have collapsed because parties have focused only on selling the deal to their own side. The deal must also work for the other side, including its voters. Parties must enable each other to demonstrate success to their own supporters.

I have praised before the maturity with which the ANC and most other parties accepted the results of the elections. That maturity needs to work its way through into the new administration and the way parties get down to work. One of the agendas of the previous administration has been the professionalisation of the civil service, of drawing a sharp line between party politics and the job of delivering to the public. That professionalism needs to start at the top – we need ministers who take the job of delivering seriously. They must be able to back the directors general and other senior leadership to be effective in running departments. We must ensure the best men and women emerge to govern us – from the cabinet down.

Those who take on new portfolios must not go in with an attitude of putting their people in place. That is the cadre deployment of old, which we do not want to see again. Of course, where underperformance and failure to deliver is a factor, there must be change, but in my experience, in many portfolios there are men and women who are committed to delivering. Their institutional knowledge will be an asset to the new administration and enabling them to deliver will be the fastest route to success.

Integrity must also be central in parties’ decisions over who should represent them. We risk a great deal if members of parliament are exposed for failing to put the interests of the country and all its people first. That will be particularly true of those who are appointed to cabinet.

BLSA has had a good relationship with the last administration. While there were many times we disagreed, there were also many opportunities to work together to achieve success for all sides. I expect the same will be true of the new administration, if not more so. I embrace the president’s call for us to work together, and I look forward to the opportunity to engage with the new cabinet on how we can do so.


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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