Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale briefs the media at the BLSA Offices in Killarney Hills, Johannesburg.       Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale briefs the media at the BLSA Offices in Killarney Hills, Johannesburg. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Business is not on an investment strike and will forge on with or without government’s support, says the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), Bonang Mohale.

He spoke on Monday at the launch of a report on BLSA members’ corporate footprint at BLSA’s offices in Killarney, Johannesburg.

"As a business organisation, when we could be creating jobs, creating SMEs and integrating the broader populace, our motives are being questioned," said Mohale. "We are puncturing the inflated fallacy that business is on an investment strike."

BLSA has measured the economic footprint of its member companies with research undertaken by Quantech nad based on 57 of the 77 members of BLSA.

Mohale sought to hammer home the point that business was the answer, not the enemy.

"When we are confronted with a fiscal cliff as demonstrated by the medium-term budget policy statement, there is no economy in the world that has ever fixed that while being pro-growth and anti-business at the same time.

"In spite of all the challenges, business is going to play its role," he said.

"It is better done with government as a partner but when we are with a captured state, we will do it with or without government.

"We have a government that sees business as an enemy and calls business ‘white monopoly capital’, which was created by Bell Pottinger as a distraction from state capture."

Bell Pottinger is a now-defunct UK public relations company hired by the Guptas to create a diversion from the state capture exposés.

"This is a response to the ‘business is the enemy not the solution’ narrative. We are quantifying our members’ activities and their contribution to GDP," said Mohale.

"Business is the most significant contributor to the economy. The 57 members contribute R1.9-trillion — which is exactly the same as all the pensions of government housed in the biggest asset manager on the continent, the PIC."

He was referring to the Public Investment Corporation, which is wholly owned by the government and acts as the investment manager for the Government Employees Pension Fund, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Commissioner. It has about R2-trillion in assets under management.

Mohale said BLSA’s members who took part in the research support small enterprises in the supply chain by spending R1-trillion (67% of expenditure) on suppliers.

According to the findings, business employs almost seven times as many people as the public sector. The 57 members of BLSA that participated in the study employ 1.3-million people directly and another 2-million in the supply chain, and contribute 24% of the total private sector employment.

"There is a direct positive impact of business on the economy and people…. It is significant but the knock-on effects are even better. Business is a key contributor to SA’s GDP," said Mohale.

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