By Neil de Beer
JOHANNESBURG – 1. If you are the president of South Africa, what will be your first steps to change the negative narrative about South Africa?
“Aptitude depicts altitude”, we must change South Africa by changing ourselves first. We must live and breathe change by being proudly South African. We need to be that someone who does something and use our voices to effect real change in our society. You see the change does not have to be big, it just needs to be meaningful and start a movement that encourages others to pick up the baton. To make the country work we need to know what is changing, what works and what does not. The talents of all South Africans, no matter their colour, ethnicity or political affiliation must be used to rebuild the economy.
2. What do you think about the size of the government?
The government size is unacceptable and too large. I would immediately discard half of the government and put individuals in place that are responsible and accountable in their duties to put South Africa’s people first. We the South Africans need a government that governs honestly. Without honesty, there can be no trust.
3. Please share your “Proudly SA Vision”
No doubt, the key points must be South Africa first. Put everything first that has to do with South Africa. We must start buying South African products first through the value chain of all business sectors. By this, we bring demand back into our economy and we help the economy to slowly recover.
4. Please share your 10-point plan to save our economy
1.South Africans first – our people first.
2.Stimulate domestic economy.
3.Invest in small- and medium-enterprise businesses.
4.Start a national programme to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship in the country.
5.Look at national infrastructure programmes domestically.
6.Start on the focusing of training of partisans and artisans’ skills in South Africa.
7.Revisit all trade agreements with foreign countries and negotiate better deals where South Africa benefits.
8.Ensure that the government changes its policy and its governance of laws to stimulate support and grow South African companies first.
9.Ensure that a new tax-wise import duty is levied on all foreign imported goods that can be manufactured locally in South Africa.
10.Create a platform for a new bolder, modern, and dynamic thinking leadership in the country.
5. Do you think we need a minister of state-owned enterprises (SOEs)? While we have a minister of energy, agriculture, defence… more than 270 SOEs (if I am correct) – each with a ministry?
What we need is to separate politics from business in South Africa. The government should not be a competitor of business, but a supporter of local businesses. The time has come, where all state-owned enterprises must be dissected and a refocus on businesses in South Africa must be done.
Businesses must be operated by businesses and must show a profit at the end of the day. When it comes to SOEs, it should not be independent of the ministry of trade and industry. Because to build SOEs it is only obvious you need to focus on trade and industry. Therefore it is my opinion that a minister that is specifically designed to run SOEs is not necessary. What you hypothetically should have is the ministry of trade, industry, SMEs and SOEs all in one singular ministry.
To end it off, we need effective leadership in the country. Leadership in this country must adapt and adopt a policy to cut corruption and putting a stop to foreign debt by realigning policies of trade and industry, domestic investment for job creation and importantly singling out a reduction for putting people on government grants.
We need less politics and more business-driven agendas. Foreign direct investment and investors’ confidence can and will only work if we as South Africans create a stable leadership and a democratically free country.
No country or individual will risk its investments in a country that does not invest in itself and has no confidence in its investments.
The slowdown of our economy can in no way be blamed on Covid-19.
South Africa still has many challenges to face, but the one positive we can take out of all of this is the beauty, the diversity, the pride, and the resilience of all South Africans living in our country.
Neil de Beer is the president of the IFA and advises numerous African states on economic development. www.ifa.africa or firstname.lastname@example.org. Adri Senekal de Wet is the executive editor of Independent Business.