Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso on September 14 emphasised the importance of accountability and delivery, particularly as the country continues to work towards driving the economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis.
While encouraged by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s positive comments last week to the South African National Editors Forum, she said that, in the public sector, like business, trust in leaders is built by a delivery record.
“Making commitments is the first step to building credibility, [and] delivering on them cements it. With trust, people come to see that you are a person of your word and they can rely on you to deliver what you promise,” she noted.
However, South Africa currently “has a shortage of trust”, she lamented, referring to low business confidence, where at least eight out of every ten businesses do not consider conditions to be satisfactory.
If the country is to improve business confidence, she averred, businesses must have trust in the commitments made by leaders across society in that reform is under way to turn the economy around. Without trust, she said, businesses cannot invest shareholder capital into multiyear projects and the economy won’t recover.
In her weekly newsletter last week, Mavuso bemoaned the lack of urgency displayed about important policy issues, one of which is the delay in new energy generation.
“We could have avoided the latest round of load-shedding if we had commissioned new energy generation back when it was promised over two years ago,” she said at the time.
The President had previously expressed frustration over the delays and promised new infrastructure investment and implementation under the direction of the President’s office to ensure proper coordination.
But Mavuso said what helped cement the trust was that, within days, “there were clear moves by the President to deliver”. As an example, she noted that Deputy President David Mabuza has promised that bid window five of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme will be concluded by December.
Another example, Mavuso noted, is that the President also swiftly called for an investigation into the use of government aircraft to transport senior African National Congress officials to Zimbabwe − a violation of the separation of party and State.
“These are powerful signals to business that the president is following through on promises,” Mavuso said, acknowledging that “much more can be done”.
Additionally, she noted that quick advances on scarce skills visas and mining regulations would also be very welcome signals, as would reopening the rest of the economy, though subject to health protocols, which “is both an urgent need and an easy way to improve the outlook”.