January / February 2020
Automotive Business Review
Time to Hit a Home Run, Cyril
Welcome to 2020, and welcome to another year of hope and despair. 2019 was our annus horribilis, and 2020 could be our anus horribilis, if our government does not get off their horribilis anus. But it does not have to be this way, and all we need is a president who puts the country before party, and the country before himself. One can hope, and one can clutch at any straw that is floating around.
This is not my view; it is the view of most commentators. Using my trusted source of analysis, the Financial Mail, I could quote ad nauseam the same thing from a diverse range of commentators over and over again. One example is Intellidex’s Peter Attard Montalto, who says simply, “Ramaphoria is dead. Load-shedding is obscuring South Africa’s slow progress. Indeed, it is offsetting it.” He urges government to implement reforms with greater urgency and to communicate its successes better to lift business sentiment off the floor.
Sipho Pityana, president of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), in an article in the January 9 2020 edition of the Financial Mail, says that business has no more appetite for platitudes and promises, or contradictory and reactive assurances from Ramaphosa. He says that we’re in fast-deteriorating economic climate with no discernible path out of the quagmire. He adds that business has given our dancing on the ceiling president more than enough time to provide worthy leadership, and stresses decisive leadership means developing a focused approach to addressing reality, and the need for a clearly defined economic recovery plan to take us forward, and to stop the slide towards a failed state, and to reassure everyone that we are responsible custodians of our future. Pityana spells out a five-point recovery plan, which needs to be implemented urgently:
1. Security of energy supply, without which the country, let alone business, can’t survive
2. Fiscal consolidation by cutting government expenditure and debt – we need a credible plan, with clear timeframes
3. Reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). They may be fundamental to our economy, but the contagion from the crises that beleaguer them reverberates across all businesses
4. The appointment of competent and ethical leaders in all state institutions, to ensure that we have a capable state
5. A blueprint to revive the economy focusing on key strategic sectors and interventions
Pityana stresses that our president must accept that the state is broken, even destroyed in some places, and the only option is for some hard choices to be made. No more lekgotlas and bosberade, and no more waffle on the fourth industrial revolution while there is no electricity, little spectrum, and economic stagnation.
I leave the last words to Helena Conradie, CEO of Satrix, who when asked if she was president, what would she do; “I would make the top most urgent decisions, no matter how unpopular, implement them and communicate the progress from start to end. South Africans are a hopeful and tenacious bunch, but we are losing patience and our sense of humour at an alarming pace. I’d make sure that they see positive signs of sustainable change on crime, corruption, energy, education, economic growth, and job creation.”