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Create a culture of inclusivity
The rest will follow

27 October 2018

“The devastating effects of this manifest injustice still define our society and severely constrain our economic development. The continued exclusion of millions of South Africans – particularly as it relates to skills and to ownership of assets – is the single greatest impediment to the growth of our economy and the development of our society,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa in his opening keynote address at the inaugural South African Investment Conference which took place in Sandton Johannesburg from 25 to 27 October 2018.

The Investment Conference was well timed to coincide with the South African Heads of Mission (HOM) biennial meeting at the Department of International Relations (DIRCO) in Tshwane/Pretoria, South Africa.

South African diplomats were encouraged and equipped with information to drive investment, trade and tourism to South Africa and take charge of South Africa’s economic diplomacy opportunities and realise its potential.

“This Heads of Mission conference therefore takes place at an important moment, for it is you, our diplomats, who must play a pivotal role in driving the message that South Africa is open for business,” said South African President Ramaphosa addressing the HOM.

The Investment conference raised R300 billion as corporations began showing confidence in South Africa as fertile ground for investment after a spate of political and economic eruptions. It announced a renewal of public and investor trust which is vital to fully utilise the opportune position South Africa finds itself in. The success of the conference has spurred the planning of the next in the series of Presidential Investment Conferences.

The conference recognised that the sharing of wealth means sharing of responsibility, accountability and risk.  Inclusivity brings about a sense of belonging, a sense of connectedness, respect and dignity.

It is acknowledged that apartheid was a crime against humanity, in which corporations were complicit in the illicit benefits of this crime. It is also clear that the self-sufficiency created through the isolation policy of disinvestment and sanctions against the country had unintentionally created a value that had to be incorporated into the new democratic and free dispensation that was voted into government in 1994.

The policy of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was chosen as a means of atonement and as a means of correcting the skewed economic distribution of apartheid’s racist, exploitative past. The almost two and a half decades of transformation has certainly exposed many hard truths and unveiled many insidious dealings.

The ‘New Dawn’ is a process which allows South Africans to examine what has not worked, get as close to the truth as possible, recover as much as possible and move swiftly and proactively onto the multitude of dividends that the investment in a free, democratic South Africa has brought.

“We are here to declare that we are determined to build a country that is driven by enterprise and innovation‚ to develop an economy that is diverse and resilient and prosperous‚ and to create companies that achieve sustained returns not only for their shareholders but also for the workers that drive them and the communities that support them‚” said Ramaphosa.

The investment pledges made at the conference is a vote of confidence in South Africa’s constitutional democracy. It is the realisation that the world’s most progressive constitution is there to foster expression and innovation and not to be turned into an instrument for punishment.

Corporations and landowners can only express their gratitude for the free market and open economy in South Africa. It has paved the way for South African companies to grow into multinational businesses with listings, operations and new markets all over the globe. It has given South Africans international access and they have developed as global citizens, worldly wise and experienced. Many have also created awareness of South Africa’s untold talents and abilities and have received international acclaim and accolades for their efforts.

“We have appointed task teams to work with these countries to convert these pledges into investments. We have emphasised the need for more South African companies to lead the investment charge‚ demonstrating that they have confidence in this economy and in its ability to deliver decent and reliable returns. In furtherance of this‚ I call upon South African companies to engage with our investment envoys on their investment plans‚ including capital expenditure programmes‚ so that we can have a better idea as a nation what the future portends for our country on the economic growth landscape,” emphasized Ramaphosa.

The social engineering experiments of economic empowerment, reconciliation, growth and reconstruction among others have presented many lessons for this miracle nation. Its friendly relations with all nations of the world, in all its diverse splendour, accounts for South Africa hosting one of the largest number of diplomatic missions, trade offices, honorary consuls and international organisations in the world. Its people stood up and overcame the worst atrocities against humanity. It is this same resolve that has firmly placed South Africa on the path to rekindle that miracle together with its international partnerships.  K Bhana

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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October 2018

 
 
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