Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

BLSA head warns about dire need for positive growth


THE leader of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) has warned that if there was no positive economic growth in SA to absorb the unemployed, the narrative would no longer be about redistribu­tion of wealth but of poverty.

Speaking in Cape Town in a panel debate on “Better Capitalism”, Bonang Mohale also called on business to take corporate decisions that would help balance survival with effecting meaningful transforma­tion.

Citing the Public Investment Corporatio­n (PIC), which manages assets worth over R1.9 trillion on behalf of the public sector, Mohale said the business decision-making process should be broadened to include stakeholde­rs.

“The question is how do you create an inclusive social and economic growth and position business as a national asset,” Mohale said.

“For too long blacks in South Africa have been an audience in their own lived experience­s. Companies are talking about business survival, but they can only survive if they take issues of transforma­tion seriously.”

He also took a swipe at Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, saying he was an enabler of state capture because during his tenure as public enterprise­s minister “every single chairperso­n of the state-owned enterprise boards was decided in Saxonwold (a reference to the Gupta residence)”.

He also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to root out state capture.

“The Gupta family siphoned an average of R100 billion a year every year for the last 10 years,” he said.

He said there was also an urgent need to fix state-owned enterprise­s, whose bailouts over the past five years amounted to 0.8% of the GDP.

“Government has no business in running these award-winning African errors. Putting more money behind badly run state-owned enterprise­s is complete folly” he said.

“Now we have to retrench at Eskom. We have to retrench at SAA.

“As painful as it is, it’s like pruning a plant. You have to cut and prune a few leaves to grow. If it does not, it will die.”

Mohale also called on Ramaphosa to reduce the size of “bloated” government.

The chief investment officer at Perpetua Investment Managers, Delphine Govender, said over the past few years there had been an erosion and depletion of economic and business confidence and trust and these had to be rebuilt.

“We need to create tools to bring business closer to government so it can better understand how industries work and make things better,” Govender said.

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