Ramaphosa identifies growth as the 'one goal' of his Presidency

29th January 2019 By: Terence Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Ramaphosa identifies growth as the 'one goal' of his Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa
Photo by: Dylan Slater

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has identified higher economic growth as the overarching goal of his Presidency and has urged business leaders to partner with government to put in place the building blocks required for achieving growth rates of higher than 5%.

South Africa dipped into a technical recession during 2018, despite a strong rise in business optimism after Ramaphosa took over from Jacob Zuma, whose administration had become synonymous with corruption and inefficiency.

Estimates suggest that South Africa grew by less than 1% in 2018, while a recent World Bank forecast pointed to a modest expansion of 1.3% for this year.

Addressing a Business Unity South Africa event in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said "there should be just one goal and that one single goal should be to grow the economy".

He said government was ready and willing to collaborate with business and labour to remove obstacles to investment and to begin "imagining and re-imagining an economy that will have a 5% or a 7% growth".

Using robust language, he also urged business not to hold back in highlighting those areas where government policy and regulation were acting as a constraint on growth.

"Where we have been tentative, a bit slow or where we are showing lacklustre commitment you must kick us in the butt. You must be willing to come forward and speak strongly."

Ramaphosa's growth push is being strongly supported by business, which briefed him on Tuesday about the progress being made under the so-called Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI).

Convened by Minister in The Presidency Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma the PPGI aims to build a closer relationship between government and private sector in support of government's aspiration to facilitate new investments worth $100-billion over a five-year period.

An investment pipeline worth at least R500-billion across various industries, from aerospace and manufacturing, to energy and tourism, has been clustered together under the PPGI, which is drawing heavily on the sectoral model used by Japan to stimulate growth and development.

The approach is being championed domestically by Toyota's Dr Johan van Zyl, while Nick Binedell and  Roelf Meyer are playing key roles in coordinating the PPGI.

The PPGI participants believe growth of 5% and more is possible, provided certain enablers for the economy are realised, and key inhibitors are eliminated, The Presidency said in a statement.

In its briefing of the President on Tuesday, the PPGI role-players argued for the building of a "high-growth mindset" beyond a yearly gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 2%.

Business leaders representing 19 sectors of the economy presented their five-year growth plans to Ramaphosa and indicated that GDP growth of 5% should be achievable over the period if various inhibiting factors are removed and a high-growth path pursued.