The increasingly violent student uprisings seen spreading across the country’s universities in recent weeks are “placing doubt” in the minds of potential investors in the country, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) president Vusi Khumalo told Engineering News Online on Friday.
Speaking after a meeting of all Sacci-affiliated chambers’ presidents, he pointed out that not only were companies being deterred from making equity investments, but they were also growing wary of potentially employing these students in future.
Khumalo blamed the low matriculant pass requirement and a lacking basic education system for the current situation.
Meanwhile, he said the chamber was working to rectify the perception that it was antigovernment and was working with several Ministers to further promote inclusive growth.
This, after Sacci was omitted from several meetings between President Jacob Zuma and CEOs of South Africa’s top companies, prior to the World Economic Forum and subsequent meetings. Khumalo said Sacci members felt, as a result, that their issues were not articulated.
He added that the chamber deserved recognition by virtue of its structure and the number of its members.
Being the biggest representative of business in the country, Sacci also discussed the recent Budget Speech. While it was encouraged by the emphasis that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan placed on inclusive growth, the plan for a strong mixed economy, improvements in education, increased investment in infrastructure and acceptance that partnerships between government, business, organised labour and civil society were prerequisites for policy coherence and more rapid development, Khumalo highlighted that the Budget was still lacking.
“The biggest problem comes from the execution of these plans, which has been a challenge for some time. Gordhan has painted a picture; he is a man of honour and credibility, [so we expect him] to walk the talk,” he said.
He added that the allocation of R500-million to small, medium-sized and microenterprises (SMMEs), which was far lower than the figure allocated to social grants, was disappointing.
“The economy of the country depends on the growth of SMMEs as opposed to grant hand-outs. We need to support areas where employment can be created, where it can add value to the fiscus of the country.”
He said a review of this Budget allocation was urgently needed, noting that the chamber would have a meeting with Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu to tackle this.