Slow Pace Of Transformation And Government’s Failure To Arrest Corruption

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) President Michael Pimstein has bemoaned the slow pace of transformation in the metals and engineering sector and called on companies to embrace change in the best interest of the country.

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Delivering his presidential address in Parktown recently, Pimstein said the slow pace of transformation in the sector continued to be a matter of concern while urging companies to embrace change and advocate for transformation.

Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) President Michael Pimstein

He said that the manufacturing industry in general and the metals and engineering sector in particular were desperately in need of transformation not only when it comes to general business ownership, but also with regards to occupation of senior leadership.

“As a sector, we need to embrace change and advocate transformation. This is not only in South Africa’s interest, but also in business’s own long-term interest. It is of critical importance that a concerted effort is made by the sector towards creating meaningful opportunities for all South Africans to play a crucial role in taking our industry to new heights,” Pimstein said.

He expressed his concern that it reflected very poorly on South Africa that the country was placed number 165 out of 175 countries, currently reflecting an economic growth rate better than zero. This growth rate, he explained, was around the same position as that of the Republic of Congo, but significantly below rates experienced in Ethiopia (7,5%), Tanzania and Senegal (6,8%), Ghana (5,8%), Malawi and Mozambique (4,5%), Botswana (4,1%), Namibia and Egypt (3,5%) and even Zimbabwe (2%).

Pimstein pointed out that South Africa’s share of the global economy was declining year on year, with the country’s position aggravated by the fact that our economic growth continues to weaken whilst the rest of the world’s is improving.

He said that business in South Africa operated in an environment challenged by weak economic conditions and a radical disregard for good governance throughout the governing hierarchy.

“Failure to respond to allegations of State capture and corruption, ineffective Boards and delinquent management, political (and other) appointees that disregard accountability, integrity and competence as non-negotiable elements of office, selective law enforcement, absence of a sound strategic plan to recover from junk status, inability and/or reluctance to eliminate wasteful expenditure by organs of the State, shocking audit revelations from the Auditor General, ill-considered regulatory impositions and attacks on independent institutions such as the South African Reserve Bank would be alarming if considered individually. Together, they indicate contempt for good and responsible governance,” he said.

He continued that it was time for business, labour, civil society, community bodies and politicians to take South Africa back, “ultimately, we must recognise the resilience, character and goodwill of most South Africans. Standing together against all the evils permeating our activities would be a good start.”

Pimstein stressed that SEIFSA’s strategic role in influencing policy could not be underestimated. He said that it was important for all stakeholders within the sector to work together, with Government, business and labour partnering to find solutions to increase the country’s GDP significantly and, in the process, South Africa’s apparent steel consumption beyond the moribund five million tons level.

South Africa also needed to reposition for growth in key areas such as agriculture and agro-processing, mining and related beneficiation, manufacturing, urban development and rural infrastructure and development, water supply and storage, desalination and recovery, transport and logistics, as well as energy and tourism he said. “We simply have to create decent jobs and, to sustain them, we have to grow our economic pie,” Pimstein advised.

Pimstein welcomed the fact that the 2017 wage negotiations in the sector were concluded without any strike action, marking the fourth time in SEIFSA’s 74-year history that a three-year agreement was concluded with labour and the first time in the last 10 years that this has been achieved without industrial action.

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