South African business prays for better 2014

Coming out of an extremely challenging year, South Africa’s organised business is praying for better business conditions in 2014.

A new-year statement issued by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) president Jabu Mabuza says the organisation believes that 2014 can be a better year.

This follows a lacklustre economic performance in 2013. Economic growth has slowed as the year progressed and registered 0.9% GDP growth the third quarter. Consensus is that South Africa’s GDP will register an annual growth of about 2% for 2013 down from 2.5% in 2012. This level of growth is far below what is required for South Africa to address its social challenges and mainly high unemployment rate which remains around the 25% mark and around 35% when using the expanded definition of unemployment.

Mabuza’s statement said “BUSA believes that the convergence of the twentieth anniversary of democracy in SA, the immediate legacy of the late Nelson Mandela , the forthcoming elections and the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) at this time, makes 2014 a watershed year for both the public and private sectors to build an economy which will be bigger, stronger and better in the years ahead.”

He said the lessons of the past year have reinforced the need for key stakeholders and the nation as a whole to make a more serious effort to collaborate and promote effective social dialogue in ways which will broadly help to reduce polarization, promote industrial peace, and enhance service delivery at various levels.

“While the election campaign this year will inevitably be a robust one which will test many institutions and stakeholders, ranging from the IEC to trade unions and business, BUSA still sees the serious implementation of the NDP in 2014 as the major overarching long-term commitment for tackling the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality in SA.”

Mabuza added that “Once the elections are out of the way, and a fresh or strengthened political mandate has been secured, there also needs to be a further step-change in team effort between business and government to help ensure the success of NDP. 2014 must see a closing of the gap between what the government wants, and what business needs, to strengthen economic performance and delivery, especially as the global economic outlook is now more favourable.”

What BUSA therefore would like to see in 2014 is reaffirmation by key stakeholders of their confidence in building the degree of consensual stability needed to carry the economy and the country forward to the next level. We need to rediscover what are the appropriate ‘rules of engagement’ for effective cooperation, as well as in labour relations, which will ultimately contribute to a better life for all. Business remains committed to problem-solving in SA in a manner which will build trust through solidarity and consensus-seeking. BUSA believes that power, shared accountability and responsibility require cooperative behaviour from all participants in 2014 and beyond.”

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