We must ex­ploit our busi­ness tal­ent

CityPress - - Business - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an ad­ver­tis­ing agency

It was not the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump in the US that shocked me when I was in the UK’s largest city, but that there were no birds to wake me up at dawn in Lon­don.

I guess the teenagers who grow up in this city will never un­der­stand Bob Mar­ley’s Three Lit­tle Birds. What a trav­esty.

There is a lot more to be un­happy about, in this city, if you choose to be un­happy.

There are lonely hordes who lis­ten to their phones to pro­tect them­selves from the mun­dane city noise.

There is also the id­iocy of Brexit, and the loom­ing Frexit (France also seems to want out of the EU) next year, which, if it hap­pens, will be the death of the EU.

But there is no profit in wor­ry­ing about things you have no con­trol over. You sim­ply need to man­age them, which is a lot sim­pler than most peo­ple think. If you can’t stop the rain, get an um­brella. If you can’t pro­tect your­self against light­ning, stay in­doors when it strikes, and if you feel strongly about some­thing, tweet it out. But what­ever you do, don’t bot­tle it up – it’ll kill you slowly.

The day Trump was elected, I had two rea­sons to be happy. First, I saw Ruli Diseko, a young man from Soweto, in Lon­don. He had come to the city to sign a big deal with a com­pany. I also saw Kennedy Bun­gane, the CEO of Pem­bani, who I had last seen more than eight years ago, when he was still the chief ex­ec­u­tive of cor­po­rate and in­vest­ment bank­ing at Stan­dard Bank. It looked as if the in­ter­ven­ing years as chair and CEO at Bar­clays Africa made him younger. He was in the UK for the board meet­ing of one of the com­pa­nies he has in­vested in.

South Africa has im­mense busi­ness tal­ent, knowl­edge and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, and we must start ex­ploit­ing it fully if we are to build a stronger and more in­clu­sive econ­omy.

The po­lit­i­cal poverty of our lead­ers, their vul­gar, post-colo­nial loot­ing and self­im­por­tance are the hur­dles that hold back the ad­vance­ment of our na­tion. Ig­no­rance and self-doubt are lead­ing us into a dark pit, where there is a vi­cious scram­ble for crumbs, in­stead of al­low­ing us to look up at the un­blem­ished sky of op­por­tu­nity above us.

An­thony Cardew, a Lon­don-based com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic re­la­tions ex­pert, is ad­vis­ing the Lon­don Stock Ex­change dur­ing its merger with Deutsche Börse.

“South Africa is not do­ing it­self any favours with the in­vestor com­mu­nity right now,” he told to me. “In­vestors want po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity when it comes to the com­pany. They want to know that its re­la­tion­ship with its work­ers is good.”

The Lon­don Stock Ex­change pro­vided most of the money that funded the min­ing in­dus­try in South Africa, which pro­vided the base of our econ­omy. Prospec­tors sim­ply wrote a note, called a prospec­tus, that said they were plan­ning to de­velop a mine, and po­ten­tial in­vestors would have a share in the pro­ceeds.

A “spe­cial re­la­tion­ship” is how Win­ston Churchill de­scribed his coun­try’s re­la­tion­ship with the US. How would Cardew de­scribe the re­la­tion­ship be­tween South Africa and Bri­tain, which re­mains one of our largest trad­ing part­ners?

He looked at the ceil­ing as if he was look­ing deep into his vault of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Fam­ily re­la­tion­ship,” he said. “Fam­ily mem­bers do quar­rel. We did in 1899 and some­times a re­la­tion­ship can be dif­fi­cult, but fam­ily is fam­ily.”

He is prob­a­bly right. Af­ter all, Lon­don was the home of the anti-apartheid move­ment.

“I would like to hear a stronger, African voice here in Lon­don, plead­ing the case for in­vest­ment in Africa,” Cardew said.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties do not last a life­time – they are quick to wilt when the lead­ers and the soil are poor. Our soil is rich. It’s time to cul­ti­vate our tal­ent so it can flour­ish. The world is wait­ing, but it won’t wait for­ever.

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