At the end of 2015 our country faced a deep crisis of investor confidence. At the request of President Zuma, Deputy President Ramaphosa and the South African government, representatives from business, labour and the government came together to put measures in place that would see our country stave off a credit ratings downgrade and transform our economy into a more inclusive structure.
With over 90 Chief Executives, under the leadership of Jabu Mabuza, have been working with unprecedented urgency and dedication alongside the Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance and the National Treasury on critical initiatives to stave off a sovereign rating downgrade and to stimulate inclusive and sustainable growth in the medium term.
We are at a time in our country when all sectors of society must come together to do everything necessary to grow our economy in order to address inequality, unemployment and poverty.
Everything we do must be measured against this goal and we must desist from any action that detracts from this endeavour.
Just as important, we must always be guided by the Constitution. Honesty, transparency, fairness justice and respect for the rule of law define us as a nation.
Recent events in our country have made us concerned that the principles, values and institutions that form part of our Constitution are being threatened. As proud citizens of a constitutional democracy, we believe it our duty to articulate our commitment to the rule of law, our Constitution and social justice.
The collaboration between business, labour and government has been a truly unprecedented partnership and proved once again what South Africans are capable of when we put our differences aside and work together towards a common goal.
Some of the progress that has been made up to this point includes:
- A small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Fund has been established and has already reived funding pledges of R1.5 billion from the corporate sector. This fund is designed to invest in promising SME businesses and a group of semi-retired senior executives is being established to high-quality mentorship to the businesses.
- A group of experts in eight high-potential growth sectors have been working on identifying new investment areas and places for intervention where there have been structural blockages. Growth areas include agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
- Investor concerns on sensitive areas of regulation are being addressed to establish a way to make the environment attractive to investors and ensuring societal imbalances are spoken to.
- A Youth Employment Scheme has been established, making use of government and private sector partnerships that aims to equip 1 million young people with skills and employment over the course of three years.
We must now all put the national interest at the top of our agenda. In this regard we are doing all in our power to protect South Africa’s investment grade credit rating and to focus concurrently on driving inclusive growth. We are singularly focused on these objectives and call on all South Africans to support these goals and ensure that their actions support it.
It has been truly encouraging to see and hear the voices from other parts of civil society, as citizens realise this is a time to put in the hard work that would put the country on a sustainable path for the road ahead.