What impact should BLSA have on South Africa? Our strategy is focused on delivering inclusive economic growth. We believe that can be achieved by ensuring that South Africa offers a positive environment for doing business, one that will stimulate investment, employment and growth.
In my last letter of 2022, I want to reflect on what we’ve done this year to help deliver it. Of course, our efforts are complementary to those of many others, including in government and civil society. Part of our mission is to ensure we bring together all stakeholders and work cohesively to build the country we want. So many of our efforts are partnerships.
There are seven critical areas that we have worked this year to make a positive impact.
First, we have worked hard to support the criminal justice system to enable it to deal with the legacy of state capture. We signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Prosecuting Authority to be able to support the NPA with the technical skills it needs to build its cases and prosecute them. This agreement explicitly ensures the NPA acts completely independently. I am pleased that already BLSA, with its members, has been able to source and second a project manager, several forensic analysts, financial analysts and data analysts, and we are working to identify more people to support the NPA. This is helping to build the NPA’s capacity in its critical function of ensuring the rule of law, which is fundamental to the business environment.
Second, we have been working hard to deal with the energy crisis. We put much effort into working with policy makers to change the regulations around the private generation of electricity. The fastest way to get new energy capacity up and running is to allow companies to generate it for themselves. This reduces pressure on the grid and ensures companies can operate with less disruption. We were very pleased that government agreed and first lifted the threshold for unlicensed electricity generation to 100MW and then removed even that cap.
Third, we have supported government with the professionalisation of the civil service. Another legacy of state capture is that many parts of government were stripped of their most talented and capable employees. The presidency has been leading the development of a new framework to ensure appropriate recruitment processes focus on the skills and capabilities of candidates, and not their politics. We have assisted with research to support policy development in this area and will do more as the policy is implemented.
Fourth, we have worked on the recovery of state-owned enterprises, supporting the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Council (PSEC) by identifying and seconding retirees with deep experience in the SOEs to support PSEC. There is much more we are doing here.
Fifth, we are supporting the president’s red tape task team. This is one area where I think we will make more progress in 2023. Many aspects of doing business in South Africa are harder and more expensive than they need to be, which needlessly constrains economic activity.
Sixth, we are supporting local government, providing interim specialist skills to municipalities who need engineering and other capacity. We do this alongside partners through the Technical Assistance Mentorship Development (TAMDEV) programme. This programme identifies and seconds retirees to support municipalities to recover and develop their infrastructure to be able to provide improved services. It also offers mentorship and training to civil servants to ensure long-term sustainability.
Seventh, we work to support the Operation Vulindlela unit set up between the Presidency and National Treasury, tasked with overcoming obstacles to implement agreed policy. This work has helped to resolve policy blockages over skilled immigrant visas, rural water pricing and the processing of water use applications, all to improve the ability of business to operate and invest. OV has achieved many breakthroughs and is a fine example of effective government in action.
Apart from these seven programmes, we are engaged on multiple fronts on policy development, supporting ethics in business and government, and helping when crisis strikes.
Much of this happens in partnership with other business organisations, with our members, with government and with civil society. I want to thank all those who worked with us over the year for their valuable input and support. It is time for a well-earned break. Our work is very far from done. As we look forward to 2023, there are many issues we need to roll up our sleeves and work to address. I will speak about some of our plans in that regard in my first newsletter of next year.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas break and New Year. I look forward to working with you in future to ensure South Africa delivers on its potential.
Listen: BLSA CEO Busisiwe Mavuso says that while she remains optimistic about SA’s future, leaders need to talk and plan less and implement decisions quicker.
Busi Mavuso is CEO of Business Leadership South Africa.