State should be more sensitive to ‘the goose that lays the golden egg’

2014-05-28 14:47

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The business community has largely welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet appointments, but there were a few concerns.

The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa was particularly happy with the retention of Rob Davies as trade and industry minister, as well as the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister.

CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba said Davies had done well in the past five years and had a good appreciation of the challenges confronting the manufacturing industry.

“We welcome Davies’ retention in the portfolio and look forward to his continued batting for South African business. We hope that, with the support of the Treasury, he will be more successful in getting the government, state-owned companies and South African multinational companies to procure their goods and services locally,” Nyatsumba said.

Nyatsumba also said he hoped that Nene’s first order of business would be to scrap the proposed carbon tax on business and “that he will work closer with the department of trade and industry to designate products for local procurement by government departments and state-owned companies”.

South Africa needed more people who have experience as business leaders and entrepreneurs within the higher echelons in the government, he said. This would help the government be more sensitive to the interests of business, “which is the goose that lays the golden egg”.

“Our Cabinet is made up of people with different experiences, including those from the ANC’s allies in Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, with very little business representation. Most of the ministers have never held a corporate job in their lives. Striking a healthy balance among all the interest groups would have made for a more balanced Cabinet,” he said.

The Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals (Absip) was particularly pleased with the appointment of Nene.

Expressing approval of the president’s move, Tryphosa Ramano, the president of Absip, said: “Nene’s appointment comes at a time when Absip has been calling for a concerted effort in transformation of the economic sectors starting with the government and flowing to the financial services sector. Absip’s preoccupation is not only about the appointment of black people in senior positions but for transformation to be part of the DNA of organisations both in the public and the private sector”.

Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, a specialist risk finance company for formal small and medium enterprises in South Africa, said it was encouraging that government had acknowledged the support that small businesses require in the country and prioritised this by establishing a department for small business development.

“Red tape remains an issue for many small business owners and if the department can lessen the compliance burden of businesses, it will be a significant step forward in tackling South Africa’s unemployment figures,” says Martin.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa), said is was concerned about the appointment of Tina Joemat-Pettersson to the energy portfolio.

“This is a critical area of concern for our country and we believe this portfolio should have been given to a person experienced in this field and able to bring critical stakeholders together to address the serious energy sustainability issues in South Africa. We will work with the new minister, but urge her to bring into this ministry a style that is different to that which she applied in her previous role,” said Busa.

Busa said it was also concerned with the appointment of Ngoako Ramathlodi as mineral resources minister.

“This is a portfolio fraught with serious issues and has experienced substantial contraction from a previous position of dominance in the global resources environment. [The minister] is an experienced person, but is not so in this area. We urge him to urgently work with all stakeholders to address issues inhibiting the growth of this critical sector,” it said.

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