Chambers of commerce NDP stronger
The solution to South Africa’s many challenges lies in a growing economy that will bring wealth creation and employment to a much larger proportion of SA’s population than is currently the case.
Populist slogans about seizing land without compensation and nationalisation by so-called revolutionaries will take us nowhere. This also goes for opposition by conservative organisations against the expansion of land ownership and transformation as defined in the National Development Plan ( NDP) which will lead to stagnation. This only brings further polarisation and undermines the ideal of a nonracial SA aimed at bridging the equality divide.
For the AHI, pragmatism is the perfect compromise. That is why the organisation is playing an important role in mobilising communities to organise themselves on an economic rather than a political basis. After all, it’s the economy, and not politics, that puts bread on the table.
Economic organisation on an inclusive basis provides a strong foundation for the preservation of the free-market system in SA and, along with it, the protection and expansion of property rights for the benefit of all South African citizens. But, what does economic organisation involve?
Economic organisation involves a syste- matic and carefully considered strategy that aims to bring about collaboration, networking, empowerment, ownership, competition, sustainability and growth on an economic basis. Business people play a leading role in this regard.
By joining chambers of commerce or business forums, and by carrying out specific actions at local level in co-operation with municipalities and other stakeholders, they create an environment in which the free-market system brings about economic growth, wealth creation and employment for all residents to a greater or lesser extent.
The NDP outlines a future path which, in the midst of depressing circumstances, offers a window of opportunity for SA to achieve specific outcomes in education, health, housing, the economy and others.
Regarding the latter, the NDP positions the private sector as the key driver of economic activity because it has the necessary expertise and capital to run economic activities in a sustainable manner, and is also responsible for 77% of formal employment.
The NDP also offers local businesspeople the opportunity to seize this opportunity through the chambers of commerce. This, however, requires high levels of leadership, internal organisation, inclusiveness and professional service to be recognised as representative of the business sector at local level.
However, everything starts with committed leadership; and even more so, leadership that challenges the status quo.
In his book Leadership Without Easy Answers, Ronald Heifetz describes the role of this kind of leadership: “A leader has to engage people in facing the challenge, adjusting their values, changing perspectives, and developing new habits of behaviour.”
This is usually an uncomfortable and painful process, but it creates a fertile environment in which to grow the town’s economy, attract investment and create jobs.
These are also the most critical outcomes pursued by the NDP and the ones that businesspeople must be involved in. Chambers of commerce are, after all, multisectoral business networks that must facilitate networking and remain engaged in research on trends in the local economy.
Research on the formal and informal sectors strengthens t he relationship between chambers of commerce and the municipality, which plays a role in the creation and maintenance of infrastructure and provision of affordable basic services.
This is the appeal of the NDP and the AHI to chambers of commerce and other professionals: grow the economy in the interests of SA, so that we can overcome the growing wealth gap and increasing tension between the haves and have nots!