The Mining Charter process illustrates everything that is wrong with how the democratic government engages with business. Start with prolonged consultations, add unilateral changes just before gazetting, mix in months of open disagreement within government and end up with legal challenges and a half-hearted compromise. And we wonder why business leaders say they are drowning in a stew of rhetoric, unmet promises and changing state priorities. This kind of contestation and instability in economic policy comes up against the hard realities of a mixed economy. In SA, the government accounts for about a fifth of all production and employment. If it wants transformation, it must change business behaviour. That requires systematic, consistent and realistic changes to the ecosystem that shapes business profitability and investor decisions.The organisation of government contributes to internal contradictions. For most state functions, there is a single department. But at least 10 department...

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