Team SA at WEF selling the we’re-back-on-track message

At the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2022, Team South Africa – led by Human Settlements Minister Mmamaloko Kubayi – is hoping to convince investors the country is slowly getting its act together. Speaking to BizNews in Davos, Switzerland, Kubayi sought to inject a sentiment of positivity without shying away from the failures of the past. The annual event took a hiatus for two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The minister is joined by a multi-sectoral delegation of leaders from industries such as financial services, mining, agriculture, health and others. She touched on everything from load-shedding and state capture to cutting red tape that hampers doing business in the country. – Michael Appel

On carrying out an economic reconstruction and recovery plan

South Africa is back and is working hard to ensure we not only recover, but reconstruct our economy in a better way. One of the things we are carrying out is that we have developed a plan; this is our economic reconstruction and recovery plan. We are way into implementing it. We have released a report on structural reform, which has been a major issue that the global market asked us to work on and improve. We are also looking at the implementation of the ERP and we can conservatively say we are at 60%. When we released the report, several people were sceptical, saying that we always have plans. But what we are showcasing in the message we are carrying today is that we do not only have a plan, but we’re implementing it and are starting to show the results. There are seven key areas that we have identified in terms of the ERP and we are already reporting on those areas. This is progress and we are ensuring those [key areas] can be improved upon. The train has now moved from the station and we are serious about rebuilding our economy as a country.

On the size of the delegation of South Africa at the WEF

The size of the delegation is smaller. Previously, it was held in January, but now it is in May. The first issue as we look at it is that we’ve got budget votes. Covid-19 has really disrupted the calendar of events and the global communities are trying to find a way of adjusting. We are not the only country that has a reduced delegation. All countries have and many of the global companies that used to participate are not even here. So, it’s [a case of] readjusting and finding our feet as a global community within the business forum. We have a good delegation from business and, as Team South Africa, we believe we will be able to send a message that is strong; that we are back on track. 

On energy security

When we deal with energy security, we are dealing with it from a point of energy generation. The issues people see from a demand management [perspective] and management of the energy site are about maintenance of our plants and being able to provide energy. We [were not able] to maintain our plants because of the money required. That is why Minister Gordhan would have issued a statement to say we have lost capacity in terms of maintenance and all that and work is being done. So, while we are sitting, we know that if you are to generate capacity or you are to make any intervention currently, there is no way that any of those interventions can yield results within 18 months. We are talking about 18 months and that should be able to give us some level of intervention. In the coming few weeks, I know the minister responsible will announce. But we are looking at that time frame to give us confidence in terms of the work we are doing. 

On the importance of collaboration

For [South Africa] to get back on track in terms of our economy, there is no way the government can work alone. We have to work with all our partners. That is why the president speaks about the social compact; the responsibility of all of us; knowing we have a role to play. With PPPs – public private partnerships – the rollout of the vaccine is one of the examples we can look at. We have seen the importance of working together with business. There are quite a number of areas we can talk about, infrastructure being one of them. We cannot build infrastructure alone as a government, so we need the private sector to come in, invest and build. We need to ensure the regulatory environment is cleared. We need to ensure that if, for example, you are building social housing, and infrastructure for development is there. Being here with business and as a South African delegation, it is important to send the message that we are one team because part of the challenge over time has been that you find delegations of South African people speaking in different voices and sending confusing messages to the global community on what the stance of South Africa is. I’m happy to have had this session this morning with our business community from South Africa because we are all carrying the same message. When you look at the S&P outlook, it has put us in a very positive [light] because we started to showcase that we are serious, we are implementing and we are working together as South Africans.

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