The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) has welcomed the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.
“We appreciate the President’s acknowledgement of the challenges faced by the economy, together with the elements that need urgent attention to set the economy on a positive trajectory,” SACCI CEO, Alan Mukoki, said on Friday.
Mukoki said the elements of infrastructure development, energy security, human capital optimisation, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) prioritisation, smart financing and domestic manufacturing have always been the hallmarks of SACCI's engagement with government at various levels, particularly the economic cluster.
Mukoki, however, warned that these plans will depend on the ability of the State to execute.
“Planning alone will not be adequate. In our view, many of the ideas proposed by the President are good but will be constrained in taking off, without fixing the human capital equation,” Mukoki said.
Mukoki said Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, old Hong Kong, Russia, Australia and Israel are eight of the non-western countries that have, in the last 100 years, managed to move their countries from “developing” to “developed” economies.
“By doing that, they managed to lift millions of their people out of poverty and high unemployment. The one visible, distinguishing common denominator in the success of these countries has been the culture of not compromising on building a meritocracy. The majority are not endowed with natural resources, as South Africa is,” he said.
SACCI has also called on the President to take the bold step of commissioning an independent, professional and deep audit, assessment and evaluation of the current skills set in the public sector managerial cohort.
“…This independent professional assessment should also include an honest evaluation of the senior level public sector compensation structure, both extrinsic and intrinsic, its competitiveness and alignment with the ability to attract the right skills required to drive this recovery and reconstruction,” Mukoki said.
In addition to this, Mukoki said the public sector should embark on a clear, well-defined and codified values and culture programme to drive a high performance ethos that is a condition precedent to any sustainable and successful turnaround.
“…It is common cause that the biggest weakness the State has shown to date is its lack of capability in selection, recruitment and the retention of the right people, performance management and the creation and maintenance of the right enabling high performance culture to drive sustainable delivery.
“Additionally, the apparent lack of effective leadership development and training of Cabinet Ministers, Premiers, MECs, Mayors and top level senior servants is another critical area to improve on, as it creates the big lacuna, with the challenges, responsibilities and performance expectations the top leadership carry,” Mukoki said.
As the most representative business formation, Mukoki said SACCI is looking forward to engaging and working together with government at all levels, as well as other social partners in delivering the vision of a successful and prosperous South Africa.