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Mabuza opens up on SA's slow transformation

Jun 27 2017 19:00
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – A lack of imagination and boldness has impacted the pace at which South Africa has achieved its transformation goals, according to Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) president Jabu Mabuza.

Mabuza was speaking at the launch of a paper on the approach of business to transformation on Tuesday. BUSA developed the approach in response to the “insufficient” transformation which has taken place in the past 23 years of democracy.

READ: BUSA talks business on transformation

“This is actually business talking to itself by and large,” said Mabuza. He explained that business has often been on the sidelines, criticising transformation programmes. The paper is the result of business looking at its role in shaping transformation.

“When business becomes vocal and critical and strongly so on state capture, the retort you get from other side starts to talk of transformation and state capture in the same line, which inadvertently leads to a narrative that says state capture and rent-seeking is transformation,” he said.

Mabuza said these debates will continue for the next 20 years, but there is no longer time to delay “dividends” to the people. “We have pushed the spring to its lowest, it can only release.”

Nanny state

Mabuza said the country is in a “nanny state”, with people remaining as infants, dependent on government to sort out problems. “There has been lack of imagination and a lack of boldness.”

He said it is time to make changes and break from the past with innovative ideas, instead of just relying on ownership changes to steer a way forward for transformation.

Emphasising ownership focuses on the wrong aspect, he explained. “We are saying is that what was done was too little to have any influence.”

Control starts with ownership, but more needs to be done to build on to what is owned. “We are not de-emphasising it [ownership]. But you have to build something. When it grows in value, you can have an ability to take that and go into other stuff.”

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busa  |  jabu mabuza  |  transformation  |  business  |  sa economy
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