President Jacob Zuma will hold his first meeting with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment Promotion on Friday, he said on Thursday.
“I asked the business community for the first time to send a contribution to the meeting in the form of a submission on what exists in the regulatory environment that makes it difficult for them to do business with ease and help in growing the economy,” Zuma said at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders at Parliament.
Zuma said business leaders had sent a “comprehensive contribution” that he will discuss with ministers. “In this regard, we are really working together to boost economic growth and job creation,” he said.
Zuma, who is facing internal ructions over a clash between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and South African Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane, is attempting to redress issues that South Africa is investor-unfriendly.
Some analysts have cited Zuma’s firing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister in December as one of the reasons why Barclays Group announced its early exit from Barclays Africa (and Absa), and they believe this could be the start of a trend of investor flight.
Since Nenegate, things have started to change and Gordhan has been credited for bringing business and government together to find a way out of the morass. This culminated in a high-level meeting between Zuma, his Cabinet, and business executives ahead of the budget address.
“We have spent the past few weeks working with the business community to support our economy through various measures,” Zuma said. “This includes changing the way we work as government.
“It requires that we cut down on wastage and ensure that money is spent on the core business of government, which is delivering services to our people.
“It is important that we join hands as all sectors to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation, and to improve the business environment, despite the negative global economic climate.
“We will also be working hard as government to remove the obstacles to investment. Our people need jobs,” he said.
“And it is important for us to do everything we can to create the right environment for job creation.
“It is not the business of government per se to create jobs,” he said. “We must create the right environment for business to thrive, so that they can create jobs for our people.”
He announced on Thursday that he will also convene a labour working group on March 15, “with the economy being a key agenda item as well”.