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‘Government on the path to resetting its relationship with citizens’

BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso shares her thoughts and is hopeful the ANC’s accepting the world as it is – not how it wants it to be.
BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso. Image: Moneyweb

I have every sympathy for the challenges government is facing on multiple fronts in dealing with this [Covid-19] crisis. There is a great deal of uncertainty both on the medical issues and the economic fallout.

But criticism of government policy had, until recently, began to mount – including my own on some aspects of the lockdown approach and general economic response. Further voices have arisen on the health side, with some prominent scientists directly involved in advising government publicly complaining that their advice is not being followed.

My own sense is that a level of cynicism and frustration had spread across the country. People were angry about what they perceived as completely arbitrary regulations that have no impact on the virus and its progression. From banning cigarettes to listing what counts as winter clothing, public trust was being shaken that government really was acting rationally and in the best interests of the people.

Which is why President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech last week was important. He did not announce any specific changes to the lockdown regulations or other interventions, but he did convey a genuine openness to learn and change course in response to the evidence.

“Some of the actions we have taken have been unclear, some have been contradictory and some have been poorly explained and some have evoked a lot of anger and opposition in many of you,” he said. Those words were a powerful step towards resetting the relationship with the public. We all must be on the same side, but solidarity depends on fostering and maintaining a level of trust between all social partners.

Watch: LIVE ARCHIVE: Lockdown Day 48 – President addresses the nation

A day later, government lifted its e-commerce ban, which I, and others, had criticised as needlessly inflicting economic harm. This allows one avenue for the economy to resume and adapt. One can now buy anything (bar alcohol and cigarettes, and I see little sense in those restrictions) online. E-commerce has only ever accounted for a small component of retail sales, but it could now see a major acceleration if sales avenues and logistics are able to scale up. It will be a challenge, but this is the kind of challenge that business thrives in response to.

Business has also begun working alongside social partners through Nedlac on the details for the move to level three. There is much to be done to ensure staff and customers can operate safely. Everyone is tackling these issues urgently because the sooner we can safely move from level four, the better for all.

The intention must be to safeguard the health battle while we ensure that all business that can operate safely is able to resume. This is the only way the economy can recover, and jobs, taxes and incomes can be restored.

We are seized with the challenge of figuring out the best way possible to protect the public while resuming activity.

The president has opened the way for this collaboration, and it is, I believe, the best way we can make the breakthroughs necessary to adapt to the new reality of living and working with the virus.

These measures pertain only to reopening the economy and getting business moving again. That is, though, only part of what needs to be done. We need to be thinking about the recovery and what forms of policy reform will give us the best shot of rebuilding and growing the economy in the longer term.

The legacy of this crisis could be with us for a very long time if we don’t make the decisive moves needed to put the economy onto a growth path.

One major area that is long overdue for structural reforms is with state-owned enterprises (SOEs), particularly Eskom. Last week I wrote in Business Report that a restructured Eskom is the way the state will be able to attract interest from private shareholders needed for fresh capital injections into the parastatal. Changing dynamics from the coronavirus as well as S&P Global downgrading its rating on the utility should spur the state to push ahead with its restructuring plans at Eskom that the president, along with the department of public enterprises, have agreed to. While Eskom is using the lower demand because of the lockdown to deal with it maintenance backlog, the utility’s debt is still the biggest sovereign risk to our economy.

BLSA hosted an online webcast with Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel last week. The minister has shown great willingness to explain policy thinking and listen to feedback for which I am very grateful. Level four is something of a testing ground to assess Covid-19 readiness for moving to levels three and two, to learn more about the challenges and states of readiness, he said. He emphasised that government was determined to open as much of the economy as soon as possible. Level four is not, he says, a time-based programme as was level five; rather it is fluid and different parts of the economy and even different geographical areas will be able to move to level three as they are considered to be ready for fuller operations. That will be determined by the effectiveness of the health and social distancing protocols in place.

Hopefully, the governing party is finally accepting the world as it is and not how it wants it to be.

In the early stages of Covid-19 it was very worrying so see the ANC and alliance partners put out a rambling statement that the state should not in any way seek assistance from the IMF and World Bank. Thankfully, sanity has finally prevailed and the ANC’s top structures have realised there is no choice but to go to the IMF and other institutions for assistance. Loan conditions set by the IMF may well be good for the country given the mismanagement, maladministration and corruption we’ve seen around the public purse over the past decade, I wrote in Business Day.

Statistics show that during the national lockdown period, reported cases of gender-based violence (GBV) have spiked from less than 1 500 to over 5 000 per week. BLSA has thrown its support behind the #NoExcuse initiative, which aims to tackle GBV during the lockdown. Launched by Carling Black Label (AB-InBev) in 2017, the initiative is a WhatsApp line that allows victims of abuse to get help. The service allows people to send the word BRAVE to 0800 150 150 so that they are directed to the right organisations to provide them with assistance.

This is a weekly newsletter from BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.

BLSA is a business organisation that believes in South Africa’s future and shares the values set out in the Constitution. In 2017, BLSA signed a contract with South Africa, committing business to playing its part in creating a South Africa of increasing prosperity for all by harnessing the resources and capabilities of business in partnership with government and civil society to deliver economic growth, transformation and inclusion.

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COMMENTS   19

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Simple.

The ANC approach : What are the reasons we CAN NOT do something.

The approach should be : What are the reasons we CAN do something.

Experts and scientists alike agree on one thing:

You cannot rehabilitate a pathological LIAR!

Too late to make amends ANC, you’ve achieved your goal..

Post Covid will reveal what that was

https://youtu.be/0Qg9CjKyXag

Take a look at this link. Actuaries have calculated the effects of the lockdown.

The best possible construct? It’s doing 29 times more damage than the virus. The worst case over 100 times and counting.

The only conclusion one can draw is that there is a political agenda to destroy the economy of the country.

If the economy burns down, then the divide between have’s and have not’s widens further….the have’s can eat, the have not’s are starving.

In turn this paves the way for RET and all the mayhem and destruction that this will bring

Busi – the population has every right to show cynicism and frustration – from day 1 they have not looked at this pandemic with any sense of rationality. They have gazetted restrictions and then at a later stage they have rescinded or amended these regulations. There seems to be limited cranium application in the regulations imposed and more specifically with booze and cigarettes surely limiting quantity of purchases through retailers would have been more appropriate than the draconian “no sales whatsoever” now you have a blackmarket in these items – the consumer pays astronomical premiums and the government gets neither tax or VAT.
The government has performed poorly and deserves to be castigated. Also why limit walking between 6 to 9 this only concentrates those on the roads so social distancing becomes impossible. Could go on but why – reflect on how well the government has performed and then write a sensible precise

Went past Makro over the weekend. The building is the size of several rugby field.

You have probably 4 times more people in close proximity of each other in the cue than people inside a very large building were social distancing is easier maintained than in the cue.

They need to think.

Think they do not.

We have got many brilliant individuals like Busi Mavuso in South Africa. We can be a winning nation, therefore. Our problem, however, is the fact that those with decisionmaking powers cannot comprehend her message, while they have their own vested interests to protect. They do not listen because they are deafened by self-interest.

Every one else has to match expenditure to income and live within their means. It would be good if they could start applying sound financial principles to their own lives and the country in general.

‘Government on the path to resetting its relationship with citizens’ – Too late, I have not confidence in the leadership. After Cyril Steps down as president…and I hope he has a second term… there is no one with Calibre to lead…. I expect this to become the next Zimbabwe.

TheANC can only reset the relationship with the people of SA if:

– They prosecute diligently all those ANCmembers involved with corruption.
– Put nation before party;
– Act in a non-partisan way when managing the nation;
– Stop the patronage system of politics;
– Stop corruption;
– Stop wasting citizens money on baling out failed SOEs;
– Put the Broad Based back into BEE;
– Set a sunset date for BEE.

@Africa Pragmatist: Very well and succinctly put. Perhaps the fact that they need to cease with the nationalisation drive could be added. Unfortunately we all know very well that none of the conditions will ever be achieved – specially the prosecution of their own – so it’s like describing a fairy tale wish list. I have to agree with DragonX’s comment above. Covid has now given them yet another foolproof excuse to eliminate capitalism by destroying the economy and create other communist dictatorship posing as a democracy with begged funding from IMF, China, etc. to keep the elite imbedded in the gravy while the new proletariat serve them.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion…. but that does not make it right…

….is that what you think when you analyze your toilet bowl?

They have indeed shown their hand. I will do everything in my power to get at least my children to leave the country, if it costs me every cent of retirement money. The veneer is off the rainbow nation.

This is the tragedy. We are losing the cream of the crop, those individuals who were supposed to take us forward, to build the economy, create employment opportunities and to support the social grant with their taxes.

I find it quite interesting that those individuals from the “privileged communities” emigrate to countries where they are not among the privileged. So much for the quest for “equality”. People flee from countries where the governments want to equalise societies, to those countries where there are people who a thousand times wealthier than themselves. They flee from “equality” to embrace inequality. This quest for equality clearly is a toxic thing.

Perhaps the ruling party finds itself more equal than others.

Correct Sensei : My Kids /Grandkids are off to Aus with my Encouragement ;
High Qualifications being gained by Aus and over a Million rand p.a. in Income tax lost by RSA (in addition to the Skills):
Its over I,m afraid : Lets just incorporate Zimbabwe as a new Province and another 10 Official Languages .

The world is a vampire.

End of comments.

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