‘Despite the mayhem, our businesses have been very resilient’ – David Shapiro

As is customary for a Monday, Sasfin Securities’ David Shapiro shares his pearls of wisdom on the BizNews Power Hour. This discussion moderated by Alec Hogg unpacks a variety of interesting political and financial stories in the headlines. From the way forward for Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling party to JSE-heavyweights Naspers and Prosus, Shapiro explains how political agendas can be burdensome for business. The conversation wraps up with South Africa’s largest food producer with its latest saga creating more headaches for the once high flying Tiger Brands. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

David Shapiro on the aftermath following ‘the week of shame’:

I don’t know where to start because we are not quite sure where this is leading to. I read two very telling articles in The Economist. I read in the Financial Times too. I’ve been reading in other periodicals how people have responded to this and the concern. What really concerns me is that there is a call for change. The Economist, in one of the hardest pieces I’ve read, put blame on everyone and say that the dream of 1994 is probably over. I said in a comment that they’ve eulogised the end of the dream. I think what government has to do now is to step back and say – ‘Ok, this is what the world thinks of us. How do we change it?’

I was brought up in an apartheid government. I was born in 1947. The nationalist government came in in 1948 and started to institute change. Throughout my growing up period, we were the pariah of the world. We were looked upon with contempt wherever we went, people would attack us on the policies. I don’t say we defended it, but I mean we lived through a very difficult time. I never thought I would see a time again where we were the pariah, where people looked at us with such contempt.

On restoring confidence in the economy: 

You can start to put in police and you can start to do all of these things now, after it’s all happened. But it still doesn’t bring confidence back. We’ve got to start doing things that make people hopeful, the same as we were in 1994. And I’ve said this many times on your show, there was a very strong class in 1994 until they were enticed by the trappings of capitalism and the desire to become super wealthy.

On the ‘prescription for the future’: 

The prescription is change, very similar to what we’ve been saying – that this hasn’t worked in. These are my words now – to keep going down the same path with the same people around the same table is not going to work. And the same ideology. It’s not going to work. You have to throw that away. We have to take a different direction. That’s where I say business should come in. That’s where the voice of business should come in and say ‘we’ve had enough’.

On the Chinese government’s crackdown on Big Tech and its effect on the Naspers stable: 

Naspers is down 7-8% already today. The JSE is up overall about 14% this year. Prosus or Naspers, whichever one you want, is probably down around 14% or 15% percent this year. There’s a massive gap that has emerged and there’s a huge weighting in those shares and it’s very worrisome. We don’t know when this is going to end. When the Chinese authorities are going to step down. So it’s not only on the pay system, they’re going systematically through businesses. The latest, the one that spooked us today, has been the education story because in China, it’s very important for children to get a good education so that the government decides which universities they go to.

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