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115 CEOs sign on to campaign to reverse SA’s current trajectory

South Africans may be fatigued by pledges of support to reverse SA’s nosedive into economic atrophy, but could this be the one that actually delivers?

In June, it was announced that organised business and government would partner to remove obstacles to growth and job creation, with the key areas of focus being energy, transport and logistics, and crime and corruption.

These are identified as the three primary bottlenecks to growth.

There are already a multitude of crisis and cross-departmental committees addressing these same issues, so how does this latest one fit into the picture?

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One hundred and fifteen CEOs from SA’s leading companies have pledged to partner with government to reverse the country’s current trajectory.

These CEOs command more than R11 trillion in market value, and their companies employ more than 1.2 million people, which gives the movement the appropriate heft.

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

This may sound like another layer of committees added on top of those that already exist, creating a bureaucratic nest of inaction. This is definitely not the case, says a spokesperson for the initiative. The aim is to streamline and coordinate action in the most effective possible way.

The first fruits of the partnership are already visible, with engineers being dispatched from the private sector to four power stations to increase the energy availability factor.

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Who’s in

Among those who have signed on are Discovery CEO Adrian Gore, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman, Remgro’s Jannie Durand, Yellowwoods chair Adrian Enthoven, Anglo American SA chair Nolitha Fakude, Sasol CEO Fleetwood Grobler, Sanlam CEO Paul Hanratty, Toyota SA CEO Andrew Kirby, Kumba Iron Ore CEO Mpumi Zikalala and former Exxaro head Mxolisi Mgojo.

The project is helmed by Business Unity SA (Busa) and Business for South Africa (B4SA).

What’s different about this initiative is the roughly R100 million raised by the Resource Mobilisation Fund, which is available for deployment in key areas of need, and the levels of skills available to the three critical workstreams.

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Explains Busa CEO Cas Coovadia: “This initiative essentially started about two months ago when President Cyril Ramaphosa signed off on a partnership structure. However, we have already established the Resource Mobilisation Fund (RMF) and raised funds to put expertise into the National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom) to implement the President’s Energy plan.

“Relevant expertise was donated to Necom about two weeks ago. We have placed engineers at four power stations to increase capacity and the energy factor in those. We are busy bedding down the structure that was agreed and will soon have clear deliverables and outcomes, with timeframes.”

The energy workstream is sponsored by three business leaders: Enthoven, Fakude and Grobler.

Durand and Froneman are sponsoring the crime and corruption workstream.

Transport and logistics is sponsored by Kirby, Mgojo and Zikalala.

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The pledge

The pledge aims to unite business and government in addressing “the current challenges with the aim of achieving sustainable, inclusive economic growth”.

“Through strategic partnerships and focused interventions, we have the power to make a significant and positive impact on our nation, creating hope for all South Africans.

“We are resolutely committed to being a force for good.”

Announcing the initiative last month, Ramaphosa said it would make a marked difference in rebuilding the 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.”

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More than a symbolic gesture

The latest initiative follows the collaboration between government and business over the Covid response and vaccine rollout.

Discovery’s Gore says the pledge is more than a symbolic gesture – it’s “a concrete commitment to drive change in key sectors that are 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.”

There are some welcome indications of improvements in key areas of concern.

Transnet recently overhauled its board and announced Philippines-headquartered International Container Terminal Services Inc as the preferred bidder for the running of Durban Container Terminal Pier 2.

It remains to be seen what interventions the CEOs can bring in the fight against crime and corruption and whether they are able to bring their problem-solving skills to the load shedding crisis.

Listen to this FixSA podcast with Jeremy Maggs:

You can also listen to this podcast on here.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and was republished with permission.
Read the original article here.

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