Over 100 businesses pledge to save South Africa from the brink of collapse

 ·27 Jul 2023

115 CEOs from many of South Africa’s largest companies have signed a pledge to offer their skills to the government to help alleviate the many crises that the country faces.

As reported by News24, the CEOs committed to helping solve country’s energy, logistics and security issues.

The pledge has been signed by CEOs from Standard Bank, FNB, Shell, Anglo American, Napsers, Woolworths, Spar, Vodacom, MTN, Netcare and over 100 other major companies.

The pledge states that the executives believe in the potential of South Africa and that they are committed to addressing its various challenges and promoting inclusive economic growth and being “a force for good”.

Adrian Gore, the CEO of Discovery, said that South African business leaders are committed to helping mitigate major problems facing South Africa.

“This CEO pledge is not just a symbolic gesture but a concrete commitment to drive change in key sectors essential for our economic recovery. With a growing number of CEOs on board, representing a wide range of industries, the magnitude of this pledge cannot be underestimated,” Gore said.

“By translating these partnerships into a collective action plan, the transformative power of these actions can extend beyond mere statistics – it can profoundly impact our nation, our communities, and each individual citizen.”

Stop a July 2021 repeat

The private and public sectors have recently shared a commitment to solving the country’s service delivery issues via a combination of their resources.

In an “unprecedented” meeting in June, President Cyril Ramaphosa met with various business and government leaders to look at ways to remove obstacles that are inhibiting economic growth and job creation.

There were three immediate concerns raised in the meeting – energy; transport and logistics; and crime and corruption.

“The work will be directed through the government-led National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM), National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), and Joint Initiative to Fight Crime and Corruption (JICC), and overseen by a Joint Strategic Operations Committee,” the presidency said.

The presidency added that the initiative would build on the success seen in the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, where the state and business extensively collaborated.

“This initiative will make a real and marked difference in rebuilding our economy and setting it on a path of sustained inclusive growth,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“It is driven by a shared determination to overcome the severe challenges we currently face and to mobilise the country’s substantial capabilities towards the achievement of that goal. We welcome this commitment from business and undertake as a government to work to ensure the success of this partnership.”

Speaking on the PSG Think Big Series, Busisiwe Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), said the depressed business confidence in South Africa can be adequately addressed if the private-public partnership succeeds.

She said that further investment into the country is impossible if business confidence is not improved.

According to Nedbank’s Capital Expenditure Project Listing for the first half of 2023, fixed investment in South Africa saw a dramatic decline.

The listing said that the value of new projects announced declined from an annualised R248.5 billion in 2022 to R173.1 billion in 2023.

It noted that load shedding, high-interest rates and cost pressures have had a detrimental effect on profitability, which decreased business confidence.

Mavuso said that if South Africa cannot grow the economy, the unemployment rate of 32.9% – 42.4% using the expanded definition – will not be addressed.

She said that the partnership between the public and private sectors will improve the trading environment and bring in more investment – leading to job growth in the country.

She added that if the unemployment crisis is not adequately managed, South Africa will face its own version of the Arab Spring.

“We saw what that would be like in July 2021. So, this intervention, when all is said and done, is really trying to prevent a reoccurrence of July 2021,” she said.

Read: New laws to help businesses in South Africa get funding are coming

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