‘Kick us in the butt’ – Ramaphosa tells business sector

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media duri

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media during the 2019 World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, Switzerland (GCIS)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa told the business sector to kick government “in the butt”, where people feel there are inhibitors to growth that are not being addressed, encouraging the private sector to “be willing to come forward and speak strongly”. 

He thanked the business community in his speech at the Business Economic Indaba in Midrand on Tuesday praising leaders for being “bold, forthright and not mincing your words”. 

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Ramaphosa admitted government had been “faffing around” and not paying attention to what needs to be done to open up spectrum for internet connectivity, before business intervened. 

“And in the end, this is almost the fly wheel that can get the economy to function, you were able to get us to sit down and discuss this properly,” Ramaphosa said. 

He also praised business for raising concerns about government’s high debt levels, embattled state owned entities (SOEs) and the rising public sector wage bill.

He promised to sit down with trade unions to discuss this.  

Business became increasingly vocal against government under former President Jacob Zuma’s  administration with many senior leaders and business associations openly criticising his cabinet reshuffles and policy decision. 

Policy on the hoof 

Ramaphosa continued with his “nine lost years” theme from the World Economic Forum in Davos last week saying policy “was almost done on the hoof” for the last nine years to advance certain interests which led to policy uncertainty and inconsistency. 

He admitted that government had “a bit of an Achilles heel” in providing policy certainty and said in future, policy should be discussed collaboratively, transparently and cannot only benefit certain groups of people.  

Ramaphosa addressed the criticsm in terms of the number of commissions of inquiry underway saying the country is going through a very cathartic moment when all wrong things are just spewing out.

“There comes a moment when those pipes must be repaired and there must be accountability, which we will do”  

“And with this, we will all need to hold hands…because let’s face it, there is this notion that people will resist, those who have benefitted from wrong deeds will fight back and so must we,” he said to applause by business delegates. 

Earlier, on the sidelines of the indaba, business sectors presented their five year plans to the president at a meeting led by former constitutional negotiator and head of the In Transformation Initiative, Roelf Meyer and Gordon Institute of Business Science professor Nick Binedell. 

Ramaphosa said the new Public-Private Growth Initiative (PPGI) showcased the possibility of between 5%-7% growth in the next five years. SA is forecast to grow at 1.3% in 2019 by the World Bank.         

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