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Business Unity SA CEO Cas Coovadia is right, there is more benefit in terms of focus and success of implementation in bilateral talks than with social compacts ("Bilateral talks needed in addition to social compact, says Busa”, August 2).

Social compacts are a broad church where everybody’s views have to be heard. By the time you have heard the last person, six months has gone and nothing has been achieved. Bilaterals are more focused, with fewer people attending such discussions, and they have discernible deliverables.

Sadly, bilaterals suffer the same ills as business/government discussions. Government does not have sufficient capacity to dedicate the necessary time to such discussions. You are lucky if you are afforded an hour of uninterrupted, fruitful discussion. Cadre deployment in some areas has not covered itself in glory, so you do not have the right, skilful government people attending such meetings.

In some areas there is also a skills deficit in actually crafting a project plan with deliverables. SA does not suffer from an unwillingness or inability to draft plans. We spend a lot of time doing so, but such plans are not always costed properly and their consequences are not well understood.

Whether it is bilateral forums, which I support, or social compacts, which take forever to achieve anything, we need to address the underlying issues of capacity, skills and project management.

Douglas Ramaphosa
Chair, IRCA Global Southern Hemisphere

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