All systems go for business >> EDWARD WEST

2016-08-24 06:00
At the dinner (from left) Abdurrahmaan Mohmooth, Ibrahim Shaik II and Si Matadar from ATM Africa.

At the dinner (from left) Abdurrahmaan Mohmooth, Ibrahim Shaik II and Si Matadar from ATM Africa.

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IF anybody is still depressed about the prospects in South Africa they are either badly informed or need medication, respected columnist Max du Preez said last Friday evening.

He was a guest speaker at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business annual gala dinner at the Golden Horse Casino.

He said the rand was at all-year highs and strengthening, inflation was falling and the 10th democratic elections two weeks ago passed successfully with little violence or any serious contestation of the outcome.

He said the business sector requires a stable political environment to prosper, and the election clearly was a great leap in that direction. The hegemony of the one-party democracy had been broken, said Du Preez.

He warned, however, there were dangers attached to the schism between rural and urban supporters of the ANC, as indicated for example in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe had climbed to power on the back of rural support.

Du Preez said because President Jacob Zuma had such strong rural support here in KZN and in North West, Free State and Mpumulanga, he was going to be harder to shift out of his job.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environment Affairs Sihle Zikalala said a strong and co-ordinated private sector was pivotal to advance the interests of businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We have long acknowledged that government alone cannot address the enormous developmental challenges we face,” he said.

He said most people confused the government’s policy position of being a developmental state, and think instead that a state-driven economy is being advocated.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Our belief is the state has a pivotal role to play … It is not, and has never been, the intention of government to replace business as the creators of jobs and economic growth,” said Zikalala.

PCB president Leo Quayle said the Chamber looked forward to building new relationships of trust with the incoming councils, both in the city municipality and in the district, after the elections.

“We advocate for an enabling environment for business to operate in and it is for this reason that partnership with government is essential,” he said.

He thanked the two outgoing mayors Chris Ndlela (Msunduzi Municipality) and Yusuf Bhamjee (uMgungundlovu District Municipality), for the support they had given the Chamber over the past few years.

“We have not always agreed on matters of process and we have often had to contest the odd budget or two, but we have always focused on the ultimate goals for our city and region, and this has ensured steady progress in the right direction,” said Quayle.

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