27 May 2024

Mxolisi Mgojo, BUSA President: Key Priorities for the Post-Election Government

Mxolisi Mgojo, BUSA President: Key Priorities for the Post-Election Government

Our country is approaching its seventh democratic election, which will take place on May 29th, 2024. BUSA is confident that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will once again successfully oversee an election that is both free and fair, with no violence or intimidation. To achieve this, it is essential that all political parties adhere to the law and the Constitution throughout the election campaign and on election day.

BUSA does not have a preference for which party should win elections and form a government. We believe that this should be determined through the democratic process. However, we strongly believe that any government should meet the minimum requirements of Constitutional conduct and have the determination to address the severe crises our country is currently facing. We have certain critical expectations for the new administration to fulfil.

First and foremost, we demand unwavering respect for our Constitution and its principles. As a nation, we take pride in being a constitutional democracy with one of the most progressive Constitutions globally. Our Constitution sets clear expectations for the conduct of every individual and institution in South Africa. It not only upholds a comprehensive Bill of Rights, but also strives to foster a fair and just society. Therefore, it is imperative that any new government sets a positive example by respecting and adhering to the Constitution.

Secondly, we expect a government that promotes an economic policy that supports a free-market economy, where the private sector plays a vital role and effective role itself, and that partnerships between the public and private sectors are encouraged. An important aspect of this is creating an environment that attracts both local and global investment, and maximizing the utilisation of resources, capacity, and expertise in both the public and private sectors. This will help in developing a sustainable and inclusive economy, generating employment opportunities, and addressing our socioeconomic challenges.

Thirdly, we envision a government that is dedicated to constructing a capable state. This state must possess the necessary skills, capacity, and resources to foster socioeconomic development. It should enable private sector investment and management across all sectors of the economy. Additionally, the government should effectively manage partnerships between the public and private sectors. It is imperative that a regulatory environment is created to ensure ethical business practices and prevent rent-seeking and extractive behaviour. Furthermore, the government should encourage sustainable business practices while ensuring profitability.

Fourthly, given the corrosive effect that corruption has on all aspects of society, we desire a government that opposes corruption in any form, across all sectors of society. This government must use the resources at its disposal to effectively combat corruption and hold individuals, institutions, and businesses accountable.

Fifthly, the government must have the political will, skills, and capacity to deliver affordable and effective public services to all institutions and households in our country, while accommodating the indigent who cannot afford such services. And lastly, we strongly advocate for the principle of separating party and state. We desire a government that governs for the benefit of all individuals, which also entails the capacity to make decisions within reasonable timeframes after consulting with key stakeholders. The purpose of such consultations is to ensure that the government is aware of different perspectives.

Over the past year, we have witnessed both government approaches supported by business and those that we find unconstructive. The partnership between government and business through the B4SA platform has proven to be fruitful in areas such as energy, logistics,, and transport, as well as crime and corruption. Also, the partnership during COVID-19 is a positive example! This serves as a prime example of how structured partnerships between business and government can lead to progress. Notable aspects of this partnership include rapacity from both business and government, strategic interventions, mutual accountability, leveraging private sector resources to enhance government capacity, and adhering to clear deliverables and timelines.

We must also mention a recent government approach that has damaged confidence, discouraged investment and is not in the best interest of the nation. We are referring to the harmful handling of the National Health Insurance process. President Ramaphosa has signed a clearly flawed bill into law, which will only delay the progress towards sustainable and affordable universal healthcare for our country. This decision seems to have been politically motivated, as the bill was signed just two weeks before the election. Furthermore, the bill was rushed through the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces without considering well-thought-out and researched positions from BUSA and other stakeholders.

The first example above demonstrates the positive outcomes that can arise when the government acts in the best interest of the country. By optimising the capacity and resources available in both the public and private sectors, building its own capabilities, and taking the lead, the government can achieve remarkable results. On the other hand, the second example illustrates the harm that can be caused when a government prioritises party interests over the national interest. In this scenario, the government fails to consider empirical evidence, lacks accountability, and neglects to collaborate with other stakeholders, especially the private sector, to maximise capacity and resources.

BUSA believes that a government meeting the aforementioned criteria will persist in adopting the first approach to governance as a means of leading South Africa towards sustainable investment and socio-economic growth. Our nation is confronted with challenges that demand setting aside ideology and collaborating for the benefit of all.

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