BLSA clarifies role of business amid increasing public-private endeavours

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso has taken the opportunity to address the criticism the business sector often receives for “creating a moral hazard or enabling a dysfunctional government by compensating for its flaws” when it offers to assist government with certain matters.

In her weekly newsletter of August 7, she says the business sector aims to support government where it can, to enable its effectiveness in delivering services, and managing the criminal justice system, international relations and many other responsibilities.

“We can only offer our support where we have capabilities that might help. Government still has the democratic mandate to deliver for all South Africans.

“Of course, because businesses generate employment and tax revenue, as well as many of the goods and services needed by South Africans, government clearly shares an interest in ensuring they can operate effectively,” Mavuso states.

She notes that the criticism the business sector gets misses the mark, therefore, as businesses will work with government to achieve specific goals that ultimately ensure the economy grows and businesses flourish.

The effectiveness of businesses’ efforts in this regard depends heavily on the willingness and ability of government to work together, which has, at times, been suboptimal.

Mavuso says no business wants to squander resources and will, therefore, channel them to where results can be delivered.

Government is not a single monolith either, she asserts, citing the example of how the business sector is helping to alleviate the energy crisis through the National Electricity Crisis Committee.

There have also been several other positive advances, from visa policy to spectrum licensing, where business has helped to make a difference.

“We are working with various parts of the criminal justice system through Business Against Crime and our support to the National Prosecuting Authority. These are all helping to improve the business environment,” Mavuso explains, adding that there are indeed also setbacks or shortcomings in many instances.

She cites the diplomatic fallout over Russia and the South African government’s confusing position in respect of the Ukraine war as a salient example, with business being able to point out consequences and risks to the economy, as well as offer support for engagements with international counterparts, but the rest lies solely in government’s hands.

This is not to say that business is a single entity, Mavuso states.

In fact, it consists of many thousands of firms, many in competition with each other, with a wide range of different goals. However, businesses are made up of people, all of whom are part of our “body politic”.

Mavuso believes people are all stakeholders in the success of the country, and not just the success of businesses.

Meanwhile, 125 CEOs of leading corporations in South Africa have signed a pledge underpinning their belief in the country’s potential and vowed to assist in realising it, including through addressing current challenges to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Mavuso says the pledge has helped to reinvigorate several programmes with government.

BLSA remains committed to find counterparts in government who are similarly motivated to deal with the most pressing challenges of the day, and to work together effectively.

However, Mavuso warns that businesses cannot expend resources without the prospect of achieving positive results, which government must help realise.


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