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Sipho Pityana. Picture: SUPPLIED
Sipho Pityana. Picture: SUPPLIED

When he said that business should  “clearly define its role in contributing to our economic repositioning, and for our nation’s success”, (“Turn to populism by fed-up citizens could reverse democracy, Sipho Pityana says”, January 29) Pityana, Business Unity SA president, missed the mark for what the proper, moral role of business is.

We have not witnessed rising populism because business does not “contribute” to society; businesses contribute infinitely more value than the government does. We witness rising populism in SA because politicians and analysts mistakenly assume that inequality is immoral in and of itself, that those who become wealthier only do so by taking from others.

If SA is to enjoy any real growth in the coming years, the government must  abolish the raft of regulations with which businesses have to contend. The national minimum wage will make it more difficult for businesses to negotiate with, and employ, more people. It  should be scrapped.

Building and maintaining a business is a moral exercise — to engage in this process, you need to examine the world around you and think. It involves enormous risk and enormous courage. To make any sort of profit you need to convince customers and consumers that they receive more value from your service or product than their money is worth to them, otherwise they have no reason to trade with you.

To continually place the blame for rising discontent and populism on morally acting businesses is a serious existential threat to the country — drive away successful people and the country will suffer even more than it is now.

Christo Hattingh


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