27 March

BLSA CEO Letter – 27 March 2023

POSTED ON: March 27, 2023 IN by Admin
27 March 27 March

By Busisiwe Mavuso

I believe last week was a positive indicator of how government and the private sector can work together to improve the security situation.

The fact that many businesses last Monday chose to close or keep staff at home showed widespread concern that the planned shutdown could lead to violence and disruption. It was natural to be worried – the memories of looting and destruction of property in July 2021 remain fresh. The irresponsible political rhetoric around the shutdown had inflamed fears.

The state reacted appropriately to those concerns. While some have decried the extent of the mobilisation of police, backed by the army, the response was proportionate to the fears ordinary citizens and businesses had. The police promised to maintain law and order, protecting people and property, and they largely did.

This should be a memory that sticks in our minds at least as much as July 2021 does. The state showed it is capable of exercising its power. So, while businesses were right to fear the worst, they should recover some confidence that we live in a country where the rule of law is enforced. Those who attempt to sow chaos through inflammatory language will not be able to disrupt the rest of us from going about our normal business. This should shift the perceptions of the risks of such situations. It should give comfort such that if we again face a period of such inflamed political contestation, it need not disrupt businesses and ordinary people from going about their normal lives.

Monday was also a good exhibition of business and the security services working effectively together. The Eyes and Ears Initiative of Business Against Crime SA (BACSA), a division of BLSA, worked closely with the SAPS National Operational Command Centre, which coordinated the flow of information around the shutdown. All E2 partners were constantly kept up to date and Business Against Crime formed part of the national activation on Monday. Private security provided 19 helicopters for air support along with drones, armed reaction vehicles and security personnel. These were placed based on recommendations by the police to assist law enforcement. It made it possible for the police to plan and improve reaction times.

Personnel from BACSA were stationed in the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, the National Operational Command Centre and Provincial Operational Command Centres to ensure information from the private sector was channelled directly to senior intelligence and law enforcement structures. This was critical to the successful efforts to maintain law and order on the day. We have received positive feedback from the police for the support E2 offered throughout the period.

Dealing with crime and maintaining security is a key strategic objective for BLSA. I believe last week was a positive indicator of how government and the private sector can work together to improve the security situation. We still have much more to do. We are very conscious of the threat of organised crime and proliferation of extortion attempts against business. This too has been a focus of BACSA and there are early signs we are starting to make a difference there too, again through close cooperation with state security structures.

We live in a constitutional democracy where everyone has the freedom to protest and express themselves. Those rights must be exercised in an environment where constitutional imperatives are respected, and we can be confident that we can exercise our rights safely. I have said often that the rule of law is critical to business. It is essential for the safety and security of everyone, but also makes it possible for businesses to plan, invest and build. A constitutional democracy ultimately protects us from abuses of power. After last week I feel we can have more confidence that is indeed the country we live in. BLSA will continue to work hard with our state counterparts to build that confidence further.


The role of business as a social partner invested in the future of SA has changed from an advocate for an enabling policy environment to partnering with government in its efforts to make SA good again, I write in Business Day. If government and business are committed to moving forward as quickly and effectively as possible, we can only hope that 2023 will be the tipping point in our efforts to make SA a better place for all.

BLSA is a business organisation that believes in South Africa’s future and shares the values set out in the Constitution. In 2017, BLSA signed a contract with South Africa, committing business 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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