Could CEOs be transformation saviours?
SA’s CEO Initiative has more than doubled its original membership. The biggest threat if faces is a hostile Jacob Zuma, writes Hilary Joffe
It was just over a year ago in a snowy Davos street that a group of South African CEOs had a chat with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan about the possibility of working together to ward off the threat of a ratings downgrade. They were at the World Economic Forum and in their separate meetings had been trying to reassure investors, many of whom were so appalled at the 9/12 "Nenegate" debacle that they were no longer interested in talking to SA at all. Nedbank CEO Mike Brown and the bank’s chairman, Vassi Naidoo, were part of that small group, which is how it happened that Nedbank provided the venue for the January 29 meeting at which about 60 leading CEOs met Gordhan and his team. What they discussed — contrary to the Guptas’ allegation that they conspired to cut off the brothers’ bank accounts — was a joint initiative to save SA from junk status and find ways to unlock investment and boost growth. One year on, the CEO Initiative remains an informal network, but it has more than doubl...