from the editor
Trade and industry minister Rob Davies has faced quite a bit of criticism over South Africa’s attitude to foreign investors since the Belgian ambassador was unceremoniously summoned to the department of trade and industry in 2013 and informed that SA is cancelling a bilateral investment protection agreement with his country.
Since then, a number of other treaties have been cancelled when they came up for renewal. The Promotion of Investment Bill, which is supposed to act as their replacement, has rightly been the subject of massive criticism from diplomats and investors for providing insufficient protection and security of tenure.
Through it all, Davies has been unperturbed, again saying at a recent media briefing that many investors continue to see opportunities in SA.
Perhaps we should cut the minister some slack. While no one can deny that we need a lot more investment, and that foreign investment isn’t automatically a good thing (look at the massive underinvestment by ArcelorMittal in its local plants, for example), Davies is right: some investors still have the vision – and cahoonas, given the state of our economy and the significant regulatory uncertainty – to take bets on SA.
In fact, a number of our companies are doing phenomenally well, and not all of them are booming because they’re building empires on the rest of the continent, like Shoprite, or further afield, like Steinhoff.
A look at some of the top performers on the JSE this year shows quite a few who are, for all practical purposes, still purely South African plays – companies like Calgro M3, Purple Group, Capitec Bank, Holdsport, Curro Holdings, Afrimat, Rhodes Food Group, Pioneer Foods and PSG.
Then there are others who are still largely dependent on SA for its fortunes, and have, despite the tough economy, managed to show some impressive turnarounds in recent years – Old Mutual (also see page 21), Super Group and Sappi come to mind.
It may not be as easy as it could (and should) be to invest and do business in SA, but perhaps some of the naysayers should just start backing better horses.
Matter of fact
In our Spotlight feature in the 19 November issue, we implied that the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) was founded after 2004. It was in fact formed in 2000. We regret the error.