Business Leadership's Mohale: If SA messes up again, we will just be 'another failed African country'

In war, when soldiers invaded an island, they used to burn their ships to make sure they have no other options but to make a success in their new home, CEO of Business Leadership SA (BLSA) Bonang Mohale said on Friday.

"I only have a South African passport and no other one. So, I do not have another option," he told an audience of mostly entrepreneurs at an alumni event hosted by the University of Stellenbosch at the Century City Conference Centre.

"Our attitude at the beginning of a task determines both our expectations and observations. If we think this is god's own country, then it is, and if we think this is a hopeless backwater, then it is. We have to create our own new world in SA, we have no choice."

In his view, South Africans will look back at President Cyril Ramaphosa's election at the ANC national conference in December 2017 as the country's own historical tipping point.

"That was when we were gifted with our new president. We will look back and say that was when our fortunes turned after at least nine years of wasted opportunities," said Mohale.

"We have squandered a lot of opportunities since 2009. If we did not have those lost years, our unemployment rate would have been 16% now and not 27% and our GDP growth would now have been 6%."

In his view, Ramaphosa is not just SA's better chance to succeed, but the country's last chance.

 "If we mess it up this time again, we will just be another failed African country," he warned.

He said the message from the BLSA is that the business sector needs to take the lead on resolving the land issue, on creating jobs, on addressing education and addressing imbalances in terms of race and gender still persisting, especially the higher positions of companies.

"Poverty still has a black face. Blacks still represent only 14% in positions of business leadership and, although 51% of the population are women, there are still far too few of them in leadership positions and they also get paid less than men," concluded Mohale.

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