Sun International's Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. Picture: THE HERALD
Sun International's Boardwalk Casino in Port Elizabeth. Picture: THE HERALD

The Covid-19 crisis has created an opportunity for business to reassess its relationship with local communities and broader society, and to start again “with a clean slate”, Andrew Muir, the president of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber, said on Wednesday night.

He told the chamber’s annual meeting in Port Elizabeth that companies would have to become “unimaginably different” in a post-Covid world where human behaviour would be permanently changed.

To survive, they would need to “reimagine, reinvent and restore”. 

Companies could no longer exist in isolated bubbles where the only aim was their own profit.

“This crisis has demonstrated the importance of public-private partnerships and the impact small and big businesses can make when they come together to serve a common purpose,” Muir said.

“As business, we will need to become more intertwined with our local community and prioritise the supporting of other local businesses, ensuring our mutual sustainability.”

Muir said the metro must prioritise securing water supply, alternative forms of energy, a clean city, high-quality roads and security of food supply.

“The more resilient and self-sufficient we can become, the better we will be able to withstand the challenges that Covid-19 has brought, as well as those that will come at us in the future.”

Those challenges include a notoriously dysfunctional municipal council, in which endless political spats have often left the area effectively ungoverned.

The metro is currently without a mayor after the ousting early this year of Mongameli Bobani during an extended political and legal impasse.

Muir said the situation could no longer be allowed to continue if the metro is to create the enabling environment required by business and residents — particularly after the Covid-19 crisis had magnified the “massive inequalities” between rich and poor in SA. ​

furlongerd@businesslive.co.za