Top business leaders point the way to 7% growth

2010-09-18 07:53

Leaders of some of the country’s top companies are optimistic that the country can achieve its 7% growth target, but they admit that some things need to change.

City Press spoke to the leaders ahead of the ANC’s national general council, which starts ­tomorrow and is expected to tackle the transformation of the economy and its growth path.

The chief executive of Naspers (the owners of City Press), Koos Bekker, said the country was spending most of its time redistributing the wealth ­created in the past instead of creating new wealth.

“Our peers in Brazil, India and ­China are growing their economies by at least 7%, and so can we.

“The only requirement is that we kill corruption. Every new venture involves investment, pain and risk. No entrepreneur will take that risk if the fruits of their labour can be taken away by corrupt officials,” he said.

“We’ve already seen corruption ­destroy growth in the mining industry. Neither local nor foreign investors are prepared to invest in new mines when the president’s family can pull a Kumba on you,” he said.

Bekker was referring to the recent controversial empowerment transaction where Duduzane, the son of President Jacob Zuma, and the Gupta family (the president’s friends) ­benefited from a mining licence ­under questionable circumstances.

Bekker said: “So while mining is blossoming, almost everywhere else in the world, our growth in mining has been killed off by corruption. If this spreads to other industries, we’re in deep ­trouble.”

Standard Bank SA chief executive Sim Tshabalala said banks could do a lot to grow the economy.

“The growth rate will depend in large measure on the relative ­competitiveness of SA,” he said.
Tshabalala said banks could play an important role in helping local businesses raise money to fund their investment initiatives.

“Facilitating more trade flows and cross-border payments would be helpful,” he said.

The executive director for business sustainability and transformation at petrochemical company Sasol, ­Nolitha Fakude, said emphasis should be placed on supporting ­industries in manufacturing and ­infrastructure development as they had the potential to create a large number of jobs.

“Government and business should support the industries that will create labour-intensive jobs,” she said.

Fakude said focus should also be placed on small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) development because of their ability to create jobs.

Vodacom’s chief officer of corporate affairs, Portia Maurice, said the country needed to radically improve its skills base and match it to its ­economic needs.

“Our country should improve its productive capacity, infrastructure capabilities and country ­competitiveness,” she said.

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