Cham­bers of com­merce NDP stronger

Finweek English Edition - - FEATURE -

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!

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