South Africa's hopes rest on Ramaphosa
On Saturday South Africans will be glued to their screens to witness the inauguration of president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa as he will be minted as the country’s sixth democratically elected president.
This marks an important chapter in the country’s history as SA is considered an economic powerhouse in Africa.
It carries the dreams and hopes of millions of South Africans and immigrants, who have made this country their home.
The swearing-in of Ramaphosa would also provide insight into the path the country would embark on in terms of implementing better processes than adversarial parliamentary politics.
The potential implications of this carry a monumental significance for the country as it goes through a recalibration process to meet its new growth path targets.
Currently, SA needs a stable government that is focused on building on the pillars of longterm growth, skills, education, infrastructure, healthcare and general sound governance.
What emerges from political debates as to what should be at the core of the incoming administration is the generation of a consensus on major policy issues.
Over the last decade, the country was plunged into an abyss, but its prospects for potential growth are not to be dismissed, especially if the new administration pays close attention to what essentially needs to be rectified.
One of these is the reconfiguration of the oversized cabinet which has proved costly to the country.
Rogue ministers who allegedly collaborated with the private sector in the state capture project which cost the country billions of rands should not be retained.
To date, Ramaphosa has taken aim at corruption by sacking some compromised public officials and empowered the National Prosecuting Authority to carry out its mandate without any political interference.
In light of this, our interest as the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is whether the new parliament would comprise capable deployees committed to driving the country’s vision of redressing societal inequalities, strengthening of state-owned enterprises and driving policies that guarantee business growth.
The government has a fundamental role to play by ensuring that it supports the small business sector.
This would be guaranteed if government places it at the heart of policymaking, encouraging a more entrepreneurial culture, including better business support.
A coherent long-term plan for business support that matches the ambition of these start-ups and small firms, whose focus is on reaching new growth levels, needs to be developed.
This sector plays a major role in the area of employment creation and economic growth.
Decisive action in terms of policy implementation reinforces the government’s commitment in bringing about necessary changes in terms of policy and economic stability.
It allays investor fears.
The business community needs this.
But of concern is the rising agitation of the populace perched on the rungs of economic participation who are finding themselves unable to survive under the current economic climate.
The latest national unemployment figures are a telltale of the urgency in the implementation of economic reforms.
At 27.6%, the perennial question of unemployment contributes to the growing public discontent as the poverty gap further widens.
Locally, things are even worse.
Companies are struggling to shake off the economic effects and are forced to go into restructuring or retrench.
We need a robust turnaround strategy.
The incoming administration should make good on its promises by placing its thumb on the pulse of the economy to locate best suited solutions for its resuscitation.
For instance, what the National Development Plan espouses is transformation as a means of dealing with a waning economy and addressing the question of rife unemployment.
However, the country has embraced rhetoric extolling the benefits of transformation, and entrenched economic, political and socio-cultural interests continue to limit these efforts. The country needs to create a vibrant economic ecosystem that responds to these challenges – a thriving transformative programme needs to take hold and succeed.
Identified impediments to this venture need weeding out so that it reaches its full potential.
The president-elect and his new guard should cast a wider view in terms of addressing regulatory and socio-cultural constrictions.
There is also the pressing issue of limited access to capital for the small business sector – a responsive approach must be implemented to redress this.
South Africans have thrown a lifeline to the incoming administration to expeditiously build upon what is working and seamlessly carve out obstacles that are proving to be a hindrance in the country’s developmental path.