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Pravin Gordhan’s road map to a stable South Africa

- Wits University

Minister of Public Enterprises presents his ideas on how to create a resilient South Africa for all its citizens in the next 10 years.

Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday presented a roadmap on what South Africa can do to ensure a future for all 60 million South Africans in the country.

Speaking at the annual Founders’ Tea at Wits University, Gordhan said that while there were still people who tried to disrupt the changes within government in the post-Zuma era, South Africa is actually in a positive space.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan“We are on a very positive path at the moment, but equally, those who have benefitted from the last seven years or eight years, in terms of corruption and State Capture, and extracting probably hundreds of billions of Rands from state institutions, are not sitting back,” he said. “They are not saying ‘you can come, you can repair the institutions that we’ve damaged, we’ll just walk away’. Instead, what they’re saying, is that ‘we’re not going to give up, we’re going to fight you, whatever it takes to actually fight you, and make sure that you don’t succeed so that we can continue with the capture process’.”

Gordhan said that this is the origin of the “political noise” that is currently going on in the country. “[It is a battle between] Those who want to rebuild South Africa, and move it in the right direction, and those who want to hold on to the last seven or 10 years, and continue with the processes of extraction.”

While there is still a “hard trudge through the mud to undo all the damage that has been caused in the past 10 years”, Gordhan said South Africa is currently actually in a positive space.

“[Within the context of a disrupted world] South Africa looks very peaceful, actually. We look very settled, notwithstanding the bits of noise that we actually experience here,” Gordhan said.

“We are living in a context where there is a new set of dynamics that will settle, and will become the medium-term future, if you like, both of the world and in our own country aswell, and the question will be ‘how do we create stability within that kind of environment?’.”

To create that stability, there are four things that we need to do.

The first is that we practically need to make the economy as inclusive as possible.

“Give opportunities to black entrepreneurs and young entrepreneurs in particular. Use your skills and your wisdom that you’ve gained over the years and share it with them and mentor them and nurture them, so that in five- or 10-years’ time, our economy looks very different, far more inclusive and a lot more South Africans have assets in their hands.”

Gordhan said we also needed to build a more competitive economy, and keep our competitive advantages over other African countries, such as Kenya and Ethiopia.

The second point is to encourage more partnerships between government, business and civil society.

“[That way] our resources can be pooled, in a way in which we build South Africa to the kind of future that I am talking about.”

Thirdly, we need to urgently look at social justice matters.

“We’ve got to be asking the question: ‘Is everybody living a decent life?’,” Gordhan said. “Is everybody getting a meal at the end of the day, or the beginning of the day? Is there a sense of wellness in our community, that today is recognised as a far more holistic measure than GDP is? In South Africa, you’ve got to close the gap between the haves and have nots, and close it very quickly.”

The fourth, and final thing that we need to do is to radically change the business culture.

“State Capture didn’t happen in the ANC, and it didn’t happen in government. It takes two to tango. Business has played a key part in ensuring that this extraction processes work. Multinationals have played a key part,” said Gordhan, naming several multinational companies that were implicated in State Capture.

“We still don’t have full disclosure in terms of what were they really up to, and how did they get these multibillion Rand contracts in the State-Owned Entities.”

There’s a lot of work to do, said Gordhan, but there are a lot of people who want to see South Africa move in the direction that it is currently going.

“I think if universities and business leaders and people like yourselves begin to drive a new sense of ethics and integrity and a new set of behaviours where bribes and corruption don’t have to be the centre of our business culture, we could also in 10 years’ time have a very different kind of society.”