Nation urged to ‘fix itself’ – Roger Jardine

2012-12-16 10:00

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»?Good ideas and resources without strong management will continue to amount to very little. Fixing the crisis in education and other social services will require strong management.

The National Development Plan identifies key areas that need to be addressed, like childhood development and professional certification. We have the money and a myriad education policies.

»?We must live our values and lead by example. The tone at the top is key. Fostering public trust and the integrity of all institutions is not only the responsibility of elected politicians. Every South African has a role to play.

The business community should also be looking in the mirror. In our sector, we are at the tail end of a wide-ranging investigation by the Competition Commission into collusion and anti-competitive behaviour.

I am determined to deal with this issue honestly and to take us forward. Each individual is a custodian of institutional culture. Societies unravel when people lose faith in their institutions, be they public or private.

»?Honest conversations about the scourge of HIV/Aids, working to remove the stigma from our environment, promoting the use of condoms and the many programmes that have been developed over the years will all contribute to ensuring that we have an HIV-free generation sooner rather than later.

In the months leading up to World Aids Day, we instituted a voluntary testing programme for our workers and more than 5?500 Aveng employees participated. I was tested alongside our workers and discussed this issue openly in the company.

»?We have been talking about needing a “Lula moment” (referring to former Brazilian president Lula da Silva) in South Africa. My big takeaway from a recent meeting addressed by Da Silva is that policy instruments that bring the poor and unemployed into the mainstream economy via sustainable jobs, coupled with a political environment and industrial policies that welcome private sector investment, is what is required. We can have both and we must have both.

»?We need less talk and more action. I would like to see a moratorium on new policies and a focus on implementing our current plans. As a nation, we should rally together to implement the National Development Plan.

While the condition of the global economy is a huge factor, I have no doubt that a firm direction and strong certainty will unlock the billions of rands currently sitting in private sector balance sheets in South Africa. Without clarity and certainty, South Africa will lose much-needed investment to other emerging markets.

»?I think the proposal to increase the infrastructure investment-to-gross domestic product ratio from 17% to 30% by 2030 will play a big role in reducing unemployment. Prioritising infrastructure and other “big employers” will materially reduce unemployment numbers.

»?Infrastructure development is key to meeting economic growth targets. It’s really where the rubber hits the road. In policy terms, you can’t have one without the other.

It is very important to have an infrastructure investment plan that has visibility for several years.

– Jardine is CEO of Aveng Group

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