10 February 2017

SONA Reaction: BUSA recognises that transformation is critical to achieve inclusive growth

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has taken note of the core messages in the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). BUSA explicitly agrees that current participation in the economy is insufficient and requires significant realignment with imperatives in the country. This includes the participation of society at large to ensure that we are able to achieve inclusive growth on a sustainable basis. BUSA acknowledges that effective and comprehensive transformation is a critical component to achieving inclusive growth.

BUSA President Jabu Mabuza said “We welcome evidence-led and energetic work, involving all relevant stakeholders in line with our Constitution to achieve radical economic transformation.”

We currently have a struggling economy that does not provide the foundation to address the fundamental challenges that South Africa faces in terms of unemployment, inequality and poverty. BUSA is committed to identifying ways in which we can address all of these challenges in a comprehensive and sustainable manner.

Tanya Cohen, CEO of BUSA indicated: “BUSA is of the view that the core economic priority for South Africa should be ensuring an enabling environment for investment and inclusive economic growth. All role players need to work together to achieve fundamental improvements in levels of employment, productivity, income distribution and poverty reduction. The country must build on this to strengthen the economy and drive economic inclusion.”

BUSA appreciates the President’s acknowledgment of the work done through the efforts of business and government to collaborate. In this context, BUSA’s focus will be on working with its members and alongside business and social partners  to improve South Africa’s growth, jobs and economic inclusion, in order to achieve the necessary structural reforms.

“BUSA welcomes the Labour Relations and National Minimum Wage agreements that are testament to our ability as social partners to work together to find solutions on difficult challenges facing the country.” Stated Cohen

We recognize that the energy sector is a critical enabler for a competitive and sustainable economy. In that context we welcome the commitments that Eskom will sign the IPP contracts and that more independent power will be procured.

Cohen stated: “The role of small and medium sized businesses is a fundamental driver for any successful economy and BUSA is fully engaged in ensuring that this will achieve the attention that it deserves. In this regard, we welcome the commitments to address red tape.”

We further welcome the intention to address unnecessary regulatory delays on finalizing the Mining Charter and the MPRDA. We are eager to see concrete measures being taken in this regard.

BUSA, however, would have wanted to see more in the State of the Nation address about SOE reform and measures to restore the credibility of the NPA and the police service in the context of the President’s statement and recognition that rooting out corruption is a key objective for the country.

The events that unfolded in the context of the State of the Nation Address are of serious concern and undermine the progress that we have made as a country in terms of open, transparent and constructive dialogue. Mabuza said “Democracy depends on mutual civility and on avoidance of violence and militarization. As a country we need to do everything we can to showcase ourselves as a democracy, in a country which is playing a key role as an emerging market, both in respect of Africa, BRICS and other comparable economies.”