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Picture: Esa Alexander.
Picture: Esa Alexander.

Our country’s seventh democratic election takes place on May 29. Busa is confident that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) will once again successfully oversee an election that is free and fair, with no violence or intimidation. To achieve this, it is essential that all political parties adhere to the law and the constitution throughout the election campaign and on election day.

Busa does not have a preference for which party should win elections and form a government. We believe that this should be determined through the democratic process. However, we strongly believe that any government should meet the minimum requirements of constitutional conduct and have the determination to address the severe crises our country is facing.

We have the following critical expectations for the new administration to fulfil:

  • We demand unwavering respect for our constitution and its principles. As a nation, we take pride in being a constitutional democracy with one of the most progressive constitutions globally. Our constitution sets clear expectations for the conduct of every individual and institution in SA. It not only upholds a comprehensive Bill of Rights, but also strives to foster a fair and just society. Therefore, it is imperative that any new government sets a positive example by respecting and adhering to the constitution.
  • We expect a government that promotes an economic policy that supports a free-market economy, in which the private sector plays a vital and effective role itself, and that partnerships between the public and private sectors are encouraged. An important aspect of this is creating an environment that attracts local and global investment, and maximising the utilisation of resources, capacity, and expertise in the public and private sectors. It will help in developing a sustainable, inclusive economy, generating employment opportunities, and addressing our socioeconomic challenges.
  • We envision a government that is dedicated to constructing a capable state that must possess the skills, capacity and resources to foster socioeconomic development. It should enable private sector investment and management across all sectors of the economy. Additionally, the government should effectively manage partnerships between the public and private sectors. A regulatory environment should be created to ensure ethical business practices and prevent rent seeking and extractive behaviour. Furthermore, the government should encourage sustainable business practices while ensuring profitability.
  • Given the corrosive effect that corruption has on all aspects of society, we desire a government that opposes corruption, across all sectors of society. This government must use the resources at its disposal to effectively combat corruption and hold individuals, institutions, and businesses accountable.
  • The government must have the political will, skills, and capacity to deliver affordable, effective public services to all institutions and households, while accommodating the indigent that cannot afford such services.
  • We strongly advocate for the principle of separating party and state. We desire a government that governs for the benefit of all individuals, which also entails the capacity to make decisions within reasonable time frames after consulting with key stakeholders. The purpose of such consultations is to ensure that the government is aware of different perspectives.

Over the past year, we have witnessed government approaches that were supported by business and some that we find unconstructive. The partnership between government and business through the B4SA platform has proven to be fruitful in areas such as energy, logistics and transport, as well as crime and corruption. The partnership during Covid-19 is a positive example, too. This serves as a prime example of how structured partnerships between business and government can lead to progress. Notable aspects of this partnership include capacity and, from business and government, strategic interventions, mutual accountability, leveraging private sector resources to enhance government capacity, and adhering to clear deliverables and timelines.

A recent government approach has damaged confidence, discouraged investment, and is not in the best interest of the nation. We are referring to the harmful handling of the National Health Insurance process. President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed a clearly flawed bill into law, which will only delay the progress towards sustainable and affordable universal healthcare. This decision seems to have been politically motivated, as the bill was signed just two weeks before the elections. Furthermore, the bill was rushed through the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces without considering well-thought-out and researched positions from Busa and other stakeholders.

The first example demonstrates the positive outcomes that can arise when the government acts in the best interest of the country. By optimising the capacity and resources available in the public and private sectors, building its own capabilities, and taking the lead, the government can achieve remarkable results.

The second example illustrates the harm that can be caused when a government prioritises party interests over the national interest. In this scenario, the government fails to consider empirical evidence, lacks accountability, and neglects to collaborate with other stakeholders, especially the private sector, to maximise capacity and resources.

Busa believes that a government meeting the aforementioned criteria will persist in adopting the first approach to governance as a means of leading SA towards sustainable investment and socioeconomic growth. Our nation is confronted with challenges that demand setting aside ideology and collaborating for the benefit of all.

Mgojo is Busa president.

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