Government and organised business establish partnership initiative

The South African Government and organised business have agreed to urgently work together in partnership to remove obstacles to inclusive economic growth and job creation.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the South African Government and organised business agreed to work together in partnership, with appropriate engagement and oversight structures, to actively work towards removing the obstacles.

The meeting saw CEOs of South Africa’s largest companies committing to contributing considerable skills and resources and work through relevant partnership structures to address key priorities.

The three immediate priority interventions agreed on are energy; transport and logistics; and crime and corruption, a joint statement by The Presidency, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and Business for South Africa (B4SA) said on Wednesday.

The joint statement said that various government departments, relevant state-owned enterprises and other appropriate structures will collaborate on clearly defined initiatives with organised business, represented by numerous CEOs under the oversight of B4SA, the implementation platform for BUSA.

This initiative builds on the success of prior collaborations such as the COVID-19 response, where Government and business worked together to implement a nationwide vaccine rollout.

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.

“This initiative will make a real and marked difference in rebuilding our economy and setting it on a path of sustained inclusive growth.

“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 Government to work to ensure the success of this partnership,” President Ramaphosa said.

SA has significant potential

BUSA’s Vice President Adrian Gore said that South Africa has significant unrealised potential and this partnership agreement underscores business’s belief in the country and is a firm commitment to achieving sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

He added that business, working together with all partners, is “ideally positioned to ensure a better future, by turning the fly wheel for the benefit of all.”

Meanwhile, at the recent meeting, BUSA, B4SA and CEOs participating in the process, shared the following declaration with the President and Cabinet Ministers:

“As South African business leaders we believe in the potential of our country, are committed to building it, and have come together to address the current challenges in order to achieve sustainable inclusive economic growth. We believe that, through partnership and focused interventions, we can make a significant and positive impact on our country and create hope for all South Africans. We are committed to being a force for good.”

Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said that in line with government’s commitment to mobilise the resources and capabilities of social partners to enable collective action to address the challenges facing the country, Government welcomes the support of business in three priority focus areas – energy, transport and logistics, and crime and corruption.

She said this will enable joint action, alongside other social partners, on these critical challenges to set our country on a path to recovery.

Priority workstreams

The joint statement further mentioned that B4SA has made significant progress in establishing the three priority workstreams to work closely with Government in implementing the urgent necessary actions.

“B4SA’s three priority workstreams are fully mobilised and, through joint collaboration and strategic partnerships with Government, are focused on articulating and delivering a critical path to recovery, building societal and business confidence, as well as supporting Government to deliver on these interventions.

“We are expecting to make considerable progress in the short term to realise collective benefits and set us on a sustainable path which capitalises on the country’s significant potential,” Chair of the B4SA steering committee, Martin Kingston commented.

Considerable progress made in advancing joint action in the following areas:

Energy: Advance collaboration, through the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM), to end load shedding and achieve energy security. This will be done by supporting a drive to close the current energy capacity gap and build confidence in restoring energy security. Additionally, business has agreed to further capacitate NECOM to develop a confidence building national communication plan that is credible and transparent, and is supported by business, and with visible and demonstrable actions.

Transport and logistics: Stabilise and improve operational performance on key trade corridors, mobilising private sector resources and accelerating implementation of the National Rail Policy to close the capacity gap. Work is underway to immediately align and integrate business’ efforts into Government’s Freight Logistics Roadmap, and urgently enable the development of work plans, deliverables and timelines, while also integrating the private sector into the recently formed National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC).

Crime and corruption: Government is reasserting the primacy of the rule of law and is in the process of strengthening the Investigating Directorate (ID) in the NPA and implementing intelligence, policing and other reforms in response to the recommendations of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, the Panel of Inquiry into the July 2021 Unrest and the High-Level Review Panel on the SSA, which will assist in these efforts. Business will provide support, on a carefully governed arms-length basis, to combat crime and corruption, in particular, expert resources to further capacitate the NPA and the ID. It has also been agreed to establish the Joint Initiative to Fight Crime and Corruption (JICC), which will be the delivery mechanism to implement related interventions.

Kingston added that government and businesses has successfully demonstrated the benefits of partnership for the common good of South Africans through the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccination programme, the recent formation of the Resource Mobilisation Fund, and many other examples.

“We have again agreed to work collaboratively, in this case with joint, fit-for-purpose teams through NECOM, NLCC, and JICC, to help drive the urgently needed economic recovery work programme. This will result in workable solutions, and we will communicate publicly on a regular basis as to the objectives and timelines to achieve meaningful progress,” he said.

The statement said that the workstream priorities will be continuously reassessed and reprioritised and, in the future, additional focus areas, such as water and infrastructure, may be brought into scope. Success in these priority interventions will create an environment that is more conducive to economic growth and job creation.

Advance cooperation on jobs

In parallel, Business and Government will explore ways to advance cooperation on the jobs agenda, and identify what areas of collaboration or existing programmes can be significantly scaled in the short term.

BUSA’s CEO Cas Coovadia said that business is ideally positioned to ensure a better future, for the benefit of all, which makes this partnership agreement with Government critically important.

“South African business leaders are committing to contributing considerable skills and resources and, as a matter of urgency, work through all relevant partnership structures to address our country’s priorities. Ultimately, success will lead to a significant impact on GDP growth and job creation and will re-instill confidence amongst all stakeholders,” Coovadia said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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