The problem with the president’s investment summit

The annual South African Investment Conference – which was held its fourth It aims to raise R1.2 trillion by last Thursday (24 March) – its fifth year (2023).

Summit, championed by the President Cyril Ramaphosa And backed by substantial pledges from companies across diverse industries, it is perhaps Ramaphosa’s ultimate demonstration of New Dawn’s ability to woo the private sector and garner support for social collaboration.

However, as we know, politics always falters, regularly making mistakes because the way decisions are taken in the government allows the party’s agenda to play with the economic well-being of the nation.

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Thus, there are threats to the successful utilization of investments from the summit. These threats are the quality of government, poor public governance and politicians.

Additionally, an inefficient public administration and a weak desire to tackle corruption have added to the problems of governance.

Without good governance, accountability and transparency, the resources generated in the five years of the investment conference will be wasted, poorly managed and unaccounted for by this government.

It is necessary to point out that the pledges made by the private sector do not mean money in the state treasury, but a commitment to the efforts to spur the economy.

capacity of government

The analysis here is on the government’s ability to successfully implement programs, lead reforms, use policies and manage resources to respond to crises.

Without political accountability, the necessary environment for development and better socio-economic conditions would not be created.

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Since the advent of democracy, South Africa has experienced a diminished ability of its government to drive policy, let alone combine forward-looking plans with pre-determined governance that can succeed objectives on initiatives such as investment summits.

The dominance of politics, especially the party’s agenda, despite all efforts, will reduce the summit to one more thing.

If public governance is about the government using the power it has been entrusted to manage the country’s economic and social resources, then South Africa has failed.

Instead, whenever an issue related to governance arises, it often parallels poor government, political instability, and politicians who are exempt from corruption and power-abuse tendencies.

When leadership changes…

Furthermore, as most readers know, the ANC Alternative Congress takes place later in the year, and the new leadership rarely continues with the policies of its predecessors.

Within the tripartite coalition – the ruling ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (KOSATU) and the South African Communist Party – there are murmurs about the current administration’s closeness to trade.

Seemingly, the next group will try to do the opposite and purportedly for rank-and-file members and laymen rather than business.

As argued above, the relationship between governance challenges and the quality of government is an essential contributing factor to stunted growth and economic and social failures. There are two more.

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Crisis (mis)management

First of all, I would like to draw your attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic and the uprisings of July 2021 demonstrated how bad the state was for an immediate crisis.

It is not a comparison of the two; Instead, it shows how the political situation in South Africa is not conducive to responding to a crisis, let alone managing it.

On the one hand, before the pandemic, our leaders had failed to formulate an effective response to the challenges of unemployment, poverty and a declining economy. On the other hand, during the pandemic, the government failed to anticipate the emergent issues that could arise from the lockdown – such as food insecurity, rising poverty and a destitute population without need.

The dire handling of the stimulus package related to the economic crisis induced by the pandemic is meant to boost recovery.

Second, the government’s dwindling ability to drive policy to address enduring challenges and emerging crises was highlighted.

continuing to face lasting challenges

South Africa does not have a clearly defined strategy to address the youth unemployment crisis – neither before, nor after, COVID-19. In the latter context, we know that evidence-based policy response is preferred over rhetoric.

Furthermore, the July riots were a worrying sign of the link between good governance, which in turn is important and a key enabler for the government to implement programs or create a conducive environment and political stability.

Read: Police and intelligence services failed to stop July riots, says report

The diminishing capacity of the government to achieve its goals and the deteriorating socioeconomic status of the common man make it a breeding ground for discontent.

Two arguments suggest that the government has been poor in implementing policies that can revive the economy.

For one thing, the management of the stimulus package and the Covid-19 procurement process shows that politicians, their lack of care and their ‘customer’ politics are the problem.

Politicians have done deep damage to both the government and the governed.

Naturally, beyond the hype of the investment conference, there is deep disillusionment.

track record

The article is already displaying frequent news stories about corruption, poor governance and failure to drive policy as it responds to a period of crisis.

One problem South Africa has is that the worst of us are in government.

So far, these leaders do not give the impression of managing billions committed to creating a friendly business environment, easing regulation, speeding up progressive legislation and reviving the economy.

The investment summit could, in theory, offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make South Africa a better place for all.

In reality, however, experience has taught us that our politicians will make sure it fails.

I hope to be proved wrong.


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