NDZ backs Cyril with breakthrough meeting between business, presidency

2018-09-23 05:55
united we stand Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma congratulates Cyril Ramaphosa after was elected as president of the ANC in DecemberPHOTO: AFP

united we stand Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma congratulates Cyril Ramaphosa after was elected as president of the ANC in DecemberPHOTO: AFP

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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is emerging as one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s key ministers after she helped engineer a breakthrough meeting between the presidency and 60 chief executives of some of South Africa’s major corporations at the Union Buildings on Friday.

The meeting followed Ramaphosa’s announcement earlier that day outlining his government’s plans to revitalise the economy. The meeting was the fourth of its kind held over the past month and involved Dlamini-Zuma, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, various senior government officials, and captains of industry and commerce.

Private sector attendees included representatives from the automotive, agriculture, finance, information and telecommunication, energy, health, tourism, manufacturing and construction sectors.

The process was driven by Toyota Europe chief executive Johan van Zyl as well as Roelf Meyer, who played a leading role during the constitutional negotiations to end apartheid in the 1990s. Van Zyl told News24 yesterday that the meeting was “one of the most productive between business and government that I’ve attended”.

As head of Toyota South Africa for many years before moving abroad Van Zyl was one of the country’s most influential businessmen and was regarded as one of the corporate sector’s more progressive leaders.

He said that if South Africa was to improve economic growth, government and business would need to work together and not against each other.

“We’ve had meetings in the past, but the problem has always been implementation. What is different now is that every sector will come up with a five-year plan that we will implement with government providing a conducive environment.”

During the almost three-hour-long meeting held in the east wing of the Union Buildings on Friday afternoon, it was agreed that all economic sectors would finalise their five-year plans by November. These plans will form the basis of sectoral efforts to aid economic growth and will be fed into Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address next year.

Presentations were made by Dlamini-Zuma, the minister in the presidency responsible for planning, monitoring and evaluation, her director-general Mpumi Mpofu, Agricultural Business Chamber chief executive John Purchase on behalf of the agriculture sector, and Toyota SA chief executive Andrew Kirby on behalf of the automotive industry.

Other corporates that attended included Absa, Shell and BMW.

The meeting was the culmination of continuous dialogue between Dlamini-Zuma, Van Zyl and Meyer. The first meeting was held in August at Tuynhuys in Cape Town, where representatives from agriculture and car manufacturing told Ramaphosa that they were ready to aid his plans if government could clear obstacles preventing economic growth. Van Zyl is an ardent proponent of Japanese efforts to reconstruct that country’s economy after World

Van Zyl and Meyer said Dlamini-Zuma was instrumental in ensuring access to Ramaphosa and played a key role in bringing government and the private sector closer together.

“We spoke on a flight between Cape Town and Johannesburg in May about the state of the economy and agreed that something needed to be done. She has been open and accessible from the start. There certainly is optimism that the relationship between business and government is changing,” Meyer told News24 yesterday.

Van Zyl says he was impressed by the speed at which Dlamini-Zuma was moving and that meetings were quickly followed by action.

“There is clear commitment by both her and Mpofu to create an atmosphere of trust,” he said.

Dlamini-Zuma’s spokesperson Mlungisi Mtshali said Friday’s meeting was aimed at bringing the private sector closer to the aims of the National Development Plan.

“We realised that we are not engaging enough [with business] and this meeting and the sectoral plans will help us align our planning better with the needs of the private sector,” he said.

Van Zyl says the country won’t be able to “talk its way to economic growth”, and that clear plans and efficient implementation were needed.

“That is why business is coming together and telling government that this is what we can do. But government will also have to tackle the problems we have identified,” he said.

He added that the automotive manufacturing industry was a clear example of where a closer relationship between the private sector and government could work.

“This industry would not have survived in this country if we did not work together. Today, it represents 7% of gross domestic product and we employ some of the most advanced technologies in the world.”

Friday’s meeting wasn’t all rosy, however, with some attendees telling Dlamini-Zuma that it was impossible to expand their businesses if basic service delivery failed.

“We have been down this road before, so we should be wary. Under [former president Jacob] Zuma, the private sector was almost demonised as the enemy,” said one attendee.

Purchase said that, although a better foundation for future cooperation was laid, government must not dictate the process. “This is about creating a partnership. We will only be able to solve our problems if we can create working relationships.”

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  nkosazana dlamini-zuma

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