Ev­ery­thing but vision from Cyril

Big turn­around plan needs to ig­nite pas­sion and com­mit­ment

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Stew­ard­ship is one of the most im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of lead­ers. It is a con­cept that was lost on for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. As such, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in­her­ited a burn­ing plat­form which im­me­di­ately de­manded that he leads his cabi­net in the ex­e­cu­tion of a turn­around strat­egy for South Africa In­cor­po­rated (SA Inc).

This was the log­i­cal course of ac­tion for him and re­mains an un­en­vi­able task for any leader, par­tic­u­larly when turn­ing around the for­tunes of a coun­try. We are en­cour­aged to see our pres­i­dent con­tin­u­ing to wear his trade­mark smile de­spite the chal­lenges.

Every suc­cess­ful turn­around fol­lows spe­cific steps which can be ap­pli­ca­ble in any sce­nario, be it busi­ness or govern­ment.

The first step is to fo­cus on un­der­stand­ing the prob­lem. Ramaphosa was SA’s deputy pres­i­dent — he had a prime seat at the ta­ble to watch the wreck­ing ball that was his boss. He un­der­stood the mess that had been cre­ated.

The sec­ond step is to de­velop and com­mu­ni­cate a com­pelling vision. When he was cam­paign­ing to be­come ANC pres­i­dent, he came up with the “new deal for SA”. This was seen as the gen­e­sis of his post-Zupta vision — the New Dawn.

The per­ceived EFF threat on the land ques­tion com­pletely de­railed him from craft­ing a uni­fy­ing and com­pelling vision for SA. This is a gap­ing hole in our coun­try’s turn­around strat­egy.

The land ques­tion is ur­gent and re­quires ab­so­lute clar­ity on its im­pli­ca­tions for all. In­clu­sive growth is also im­por­tant for the suc­cess of SA. The pres­i­dent’s pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of the di­vi­sive land ques­tion has sent jit­ters across SA and the world — his fo­cus on the is­sue may have si­lenced some of his crit­ics within the ANC, but he has cer­tainly alien­ated crit­i­cal growth part­ners.

For ex­am­ple, he was forced to pub­licly re­buke US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump over his com­ments on the land is­sue.

As nec­es­sary as this ac­tion ap­peared to be at the time, it was a strate­gic mis­take on the pres­i­dent’s part. We can­not talk about growth and ig­nore the US. Our na­tional in­ter­ests have to in­form our choice of part­ners.

The third step in a turn­around is to es­tab­lish a few vi­tal goals and pur­sue them re­lent­lessly. The pres­i­dent has set him­self th­ese goals and moved with speed to fix state-owned en­ter­prises, re­plac­ing com­pro­mised board mem­bers with peo­ple of in­tegrity.

He has ap­pointed four spe­cial en­voys and an eco­nomic ad­viser whose goal is to raise $100bn in five years. It is a big, hairy, au­da­cious goal. We love it.

He ap­pointed re­tired judge Robert

Nu­gent to lead the com­mis­sion into Sars, the state cap­ture in­quiry is in full swing and an­other com­mis­sion will be look­ing at al­le­ga­tions of im­pro­pri­ety at the Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion. The pres­i­dent has also ini­ti­ated a process of iden­ti­fy­ing a new head of the NPA to re­place Shaun Abra­hams. Th­ese are all vi­tal goals to fix­ing SA.

The fourth step is to clean the house at the top. The pres­i­dent had an op­por­tu­nity to bring fresh blood into his new cabi­net, thereby clean­ing the house com­pletely. He missed the op­por­tu­nity — his pick of min­is­ters in­cluded ques­tion­able politi­cians but he did well with oth­ers, par­tic­u­larly Tito Mboweni. The new fi­nance min­is­ter is in­tent on do­ing what our coun­try needs.

It’s ur­gent that, when in a turn­around, you im­me­di­ately find ways to stop the bleed­ing and fo­cus on core ac­tiv­i­ties. I found min­is­ter Mboweni’s views on SAA and the Re­serve Bank in­ter­est­ing — he sees SAA as a re­source-hun­gry yet non­core as­set to the re­cov­ery of the econ­omy, mak­ing it a good can­di­date for clo­sure. This ac­tion may not be pop­u­lar, but it is what is needed.

Min­is­ter Mboweni seems to know that the harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usu­ally the same. More of his com­rades should bite the bul­let and fol­low suit for the sake of the coun­try.

The fifth step is to in­spire and de­liver a mes­sage of hope. It is im­por­tant for the pres­i­dent, in words and ac­tions, to shift the coun­try’s mood from de­spair to hope. We need cor­rupt in­di­vid­u­als suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted and see them swap de­signer clothes for orange over­alls. The mes­sage of hope is taking hold — at a re­cent in­vest­ment con­fer­ence, lo­cal com­pa­nies pledged R290bn of in­vest­ment. Th­ese early wins will en­gen­der hope.

As you close on your turn­around, the last step is to cre­ate sup­port­ing alliances. The pres­i­dent is do­ing a great job in mo­bil­is­ing busi­ness, Cosatu, Sanco and re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions be­hind his New Dawn. His Thuma Mina (Send Me) cam­paign is a stroke

The big threat is the lack of a uni­fy­ing and com­pelling vision for SA ... the one the pres­i­dent had was de­railed by the land is­sue. We need a new vision

of ge­nius. He needs to con­tinue build­ing a coali­tion of the com­mit­ted.

The big threat to Ramaphosa’s turn­around strat­egy is the lack of a uni­fy­ing and com­pelling vision. The vision that the pres­i­dent had was de­railed by the land is­sue.

We need a new vision; we need all South Africans to put their shoul­ders to the wheel around the same goal. Peo­ple will com­mit if their fu­ture is se­cured.

Our con­sti­tu­tion states that SA be­longs to all who live in it — a good start­ing point for creat­ing an in­clu­sive and com­pelling vision.

Pic­ture: Alais­ter Russell

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa at the re­cent in­vest­ment con­fer­ence where he was punt­ing SA as a good in­vest­ment.

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