Bonang Mohale, the CEO of Business Leadership SA. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Bonang Mohale, the CEO of Business Leadership SA. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

Business Leadership SA (BLSA) CEO Bonang Mohale has launched a scathing attack on the government, singling out President Jacob Zuma’s plan to capture the Treasury.

"[The president is] moving on to [the] Treasury. We’ve now seen the director-general and a number of [officials] leaving," said Mohale at Monday’s release of a report aimed at debunking perceptions of an investment strike in the country.

"Business was remiss to move away from the public debate just because we had a saint, Nelson Mandela, as president. That is why the country is captured. Business has found its voice and it’s using its resources to defeat state capture," he said.

The report, undertaken by Quantech, showed 57 of BLSA’s 77 member companies such as Telkom, TFG and MTN had contributed more than R1.9-trillion to GDP in 2016. GDP growth for 2016 was a paltry 0.3%.

"This [the report] is in response to [the] government’s narrative that business is the enemy. We are puncturing the inflated fallacy that business is on an investment strike. We are quantifying our members’ activities and their contribution to the GDP," Mohale said.

The report indicated that the contribution of the 57 members was 1.2 times the value of total budgeted expenditure by the government in 2016. BLSA members contributed about 36% of the economy’s output in 2016, compared with the government’s 11.7%, while contributing 34% of GDP.

The Presidency has slammed claims that Zuma is trying to capture the Treasury.

The Treasury was "a critical institution of government, which President Zuma has been leading since 2009", Presidency spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said. "The claim that he is trying to ‘capture’ an institution he has been overseeing for almost a decade is bizarre, to say the least," he said.

Economists said that investment had dwindled significantly in the last number of years, suggesting companies were diverting their attention from SA.

BNP Paribas economist Jeff Schultz said: "Fixed investment trends in the last two years show that fixed investment growth has been contracting. A lot of domestic corporates are hesitant to invest, given the political uncertainty and weak economic environment. This is part of the reason growth has slipped below 1.1%. It’s not that they aren’t investing, it’s that the pace is not keeping up," he said.

Nedbank chief economist Dennis Dykes said: "There is a sense of distrust, which comes down to the … tendency that politicians have of talking [as if] business is the enemy instead of the biggest driver of economic growth and job creation."

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