South Africa is out of runway: Nedbank CEO

 ·1 Mar 2022

A lack of leadership, including political leadership, remains a key concern for South Africa, says Nedbank chief executive Mike Brown.

Writing in a new report published by the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA), Brown said it was now particularly important for the government and private sector leaders to step up and make decisions that are right for the country.

Brown said South Africa has historically been given a lot of leeway, but since the March 2020 downgrade to junk status, it has run out of runway and now needs to develop an environment that is more conducive to doing business.

“The recently-released World Economic Forum Risk report highlights the severe impact that the pandemic has had on inequality, particularly in the developing markets,” he said.

“For South Africa, this increasing gap between the rich and the poor has been exacerbated by the loss in local tourism, whilst the relatively low vaccination levels compared to developed markets has also resulted in more stringent lockdown regulations – this also having a negative economic impact.”

Brown highlighted the interlinked relationship between business and society, noting it is extremely difficult to run a successful business in an unsuccessful society – and for society to be successful, greater equality levels are essential.

“The only sustainable way to change is through better education outcomes coupled with sustained growth, supported by strong leadership that actively combats corruption.”

Similar concerns were raised in IRMSA’s report, with the group indicating that the lack of leadership in the country was one of several key risks which could lead to South Africa becoming a failed state.

“We have run out of time to wait for leaders from ‘somewhere’,” said Christelle Marais, risk intelligence committee chair.

“We are the leaders. South Africans have to lead from where they are and rebuild our country. Parents, pastors, teachers, managers, supervisors, sport team captains, school prefects, student councillors, community bodies, and others must re-establish the values and work towards creating a sustainable future.”

Read: South Africa at risk of becoming a failed state says professional body

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