The ushering in of President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new Head of State in February 2018 brought with it the promise of “A New Dawn” underpinned by four pillars, namely clean governance, anti-corruption, the re-building of a broken economy and improvement of education and training but 18 months later, South Africa still finds itself confronted by pedestrian economic growth, high unemployment rate as well as poverty and inequality.
“We were also, in 2018, promised by then Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba that ‘drastic measures would be put in place to implement meaningful and far-reaching reforms in State-owned Entities (SOEs). It is now 2019, and South African Airways still doesn’t have a new board, while Eskom does not have a CEO,” Accountant and Commentator Khaya Sithole said at the Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba taking place at the IDC recently.
Sithole attributes the lack of implementation of the New Dawn to indecision, leadership vacuum and Luthuli House civil wars, among other factors. This, he said has, in turn negatively impacted business confidence.
Speaking on the same panel, Massmart and Aspen Holdings Chairman Kuseni Dlamini said we have to accept the fact that there are elements of the New Dawn that are good and there are elements that are not.
“There are elements of success in the New Dawn including the fact that there is a new style of engagement between Government and business that is honest and transparent, the New Dawn has also brought with it hope amongst the business community.”
He said while the New Dawn appears to be waning amongst South Africans, the international community remains positive about South Africa as one of the emerging markets.
“The reform of SOEs hasn’t worked and yes there are other challenges but this challenges all of us to work together to deliver on the promise of the New Dawn, Government will not do it alone,” said Dlamini.
Meanwhile, South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Allan Mukoki said for South Africa’s economy to grow and its credit ratings to improve, we need to restructure, change and renew the public service by bringing to the public sector highly-skilled and competent individuals to lead the sector.
“We also need to solve the problems with our SOEs. It is incorrect to expect a Minister who has never worked outside the public sector to be able to choose SOE board members. We need to reconsider how Board members are elected. If we don’t get these fundamental things right. We will not be able to deal with the bigger challenges confronting the country.