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Picture: 123RF/ZEF ART
Picture: 123RF/ZEF ART

Even before the Springboks’ historic fourth Rugby World Cup trophy, and before the stellar performance of the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup, South Africans were already beginning to recognise that our country is finally moving in the right direction. 

According to the September What Worries the World survey by polling company Ipsos, South Africans were bucking the global trend over the question of whether their country was going in the right direction. To quote from the report: “Moving the other direction is SA. After having the lowest right direction score last month (14%), 27% are now happy with how the country is going.” 

This slow shift in a positive direction is also captured in the Indlulamithi Barometer, based on 55 indicators which will be released on November 9. In his address to the nation on Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa captured what many involved in joint business and government work streams have been saying: things are coming together on various fronts. 

Three of the most serious issues affecting our nation — electricity supply, logistics and crime — have begun showing results through concerted efforts. The national logistics crisis committee (NLCC), composed of high-level business and government leaders, has been formulating and rolling out a logistics road map, deemed by policymakers an emergency, to tackle the effect on ports, rail and road infrastructure. 

The Gain consultancy, which focuses on freight transport in particular, estimates that the Transnet crisis will, just this year, cost the country R1bn a day in economic output, equivalent to 4.9% of annual GDP or R353bn. Among the steps already taken are changing the leadership at Transnet and its board’s approval of a turnaround plan.

Back-breaking challenge

The NLCC comes after the successful operation of the national energy crisis committee (Necom). Private sector investment in electricity generation has benefited from regulatory reforms, with more than 12,000MW of confirmed projects in development. Tax incentives and financing mechanisms have caused installed rooftop solar to more than double to more than 4,500MW in the past year. 

Crime and corruption will remain a back-breaking challenge, as the Ramaphosa administration tries to overcome the legacy of the state capture period, when vital aspects of policing such as crime intelligence were decapacitated.   

In his Monday evening address Ramaphosa pointed out that the SA Police Service has established 20 economic infrastructure task teams, and 880 members of the defence force have been deployed to support the police in combating criminal activity that targets critical economic infrastructure. “Every arrest made and every length of cable recovered is a reason for hope,” the president said.

Furthermore, the fight against corruption has moved into a higher gear, especially with private sector donations to a dedicated fund for the improvement of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) capacity. The NPA Amendment Bill, which will establish the investigating directorate against corruption as a permanent entity within the NPA, is winding its way through the legislative process in parallel with a report being prepared by the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council.

The legislative amendments will make it easier for the envisaged directorate to attract permanently employed experienced investigators, instead of relying on secondments from other agencies.

Government officials are keen to assure the public that the various public-private sector initiatives will be led by the state. Rudi Dicks, head of the project management office in the presidency, says they are not a form of capture, arguing that a level of protection is provided by the government engaging with business through organised formations rather than individual companies. Also, the government will take the lead in the work streams. 

The state of affairs may not have quite the same zing as the Boks’ victory, and thus should not warrant the popping of any bubbly corks yet. It is more like the slow progress of the Proteas, to be celebrated with each hurdle crossed before the finals.

• Abba Omar is director of operations at the Mapungubwe Institute. He serves on the executive committee of the Indlulamithi Barometer project. 

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