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Meeting with President, Ministers reinvigorates BLSA’s confidence in joint problem-solving efforts

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso

2nd October 2023

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has gained confidence in government’s willingness to work in partnership with the private sector to deal with key issues, following a meeting it had last week with President Cyril Ramaphosa and several Ministers.

Among these key issues, which BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso says are in everyone’s interest to resolve, are the mining sector facing significant retrenchments and the collapsing logistics system.

While the mining sector has 35 000 jobs at risk of being lost, fixing Transnet and the road network is a pressing issue affecting all industries.

To this end, the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) now has six of its eight work streams fully operational, with the remaining two due to transition from Operation Vulindlela.

Mavuso explains in her latest weekly newsletter on October 2 that the partnership to deal with the electricity crisis has also made positive progress over the last year on delivering the Energy Action Plan (EAP) – which is a detailed assessment of the best way to resolve the electricity crisis that was agreed between business and government last year.

The partnership has seen the deployment of technical support teams to five power stations and work to bring Kusile’s three units back online. “It is bearing fruit,” Mavuso assures, adding that Unit 3, which can produce 720 MW, is ready to return to service two months ahead of schedule owing to the collaboration and interventions between government and the private sector.

The unit, along with two others, was taken out of service a year ago after a flue gas desulphurisation duct collapsed. Almost 130 private sector volunteers are working in partnership with Eskom and government to support the effort to restart the unit.

Government has expedited several pieces of legislation required to implement the EAP, particularly the establishment of an independent National Transmission Company of South Africa which has now been licensed to become the grid operator and to procure energy from many sources.

In turn, the NLCC’s interventions aim to improve the functioning of bulk rail systems and the ports. Five strategic corridors have been identified and recovery teams with industry representatives and independent experts have been established to work with Transnet to increase freight volumes.

Mavuso confirms that a team has been formed to address congestion at the Lebombo border crossing, while another work stream has been established to focus on restoring passenger rail services.

These streams are now gearing up and there was a sense from last week’s meeting of genuine commitment to ensure they are successful. Law enforcement is also working to protect rail infrastructure through several interventions, she says.

Moreover, Mavuso says progress is being made in dealing with crime and corruption, building on the partnership BLSA has formed with the National Prosecuting Authority.

To this end, government has agreed to a cadence of follow-up meetings every six weeks and Mavuso expects to see even more tangible evidence of delivery.

For her, the most outstanding feature of last week’s meeting was the spirit of engagement and collaboration. “It was a genuine solutions-seeking effort. The President was clear that the objectives are to do right for South Africa, not to further the narrow interests of any party,” Mavuso states.

She vows that BLSA will continue to support government to deliver as long as there is clear progress and evidence that its support is having a material impact on the business environment.

“Government needs business to do well, as a major employer and taxpayer, and together we can establish the conditions to enable that. Those conditions require effective policy, public services and network industries, which are critical to every South African,” Mavuso concludes.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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