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Radebe: Government, business must join hands to help poor

Sep 01 2017 05:00
Yolandi Groenewald

Johannesburg – Government and business must work together if South Africa is to achieve accelerated inclusive growth, according to Planning Minister Jeff Radebe.

"Poverty today can't be government's problem alone," he said. "It is about building lasting, meaningful and effective partnerships in responding to our aspirational National Development Goals and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

Radebe was speaking at the international Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development in Sandton. South Africa, along with most other countries, signed off on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a list of 17 sustainability criteria woven into the lending guidelines of development banks around the world, and Radebe serves as South Africa's champion on the goals.

The minister believes the SDGs were created to transform this world. He said it was partnerships that laid waste to what is emerging as false conflict between the government and the business sector. 

"It is challenge of our time to find the truth in the finer complexities and coalitions," he said.

To create the better world the SDGs and NDP promise, civil society, government and businesses need to work together. 

He said the accelareted inclusive growth needed to deliver on SDG must be at centre of South Africa's governmental and business policies. 

"It is urgent and critical," he said. 

But he also highlighted that there were no shortcuts to development. "It takes time. It take investment and corrective action to gain the traction that inclusive growth need to create an economy that works for all and not just a select few."

Sustainable business and long term survival

Banking Association of SA Cas Coovadia said any business looking to survive long term would have to put sustainability at the centre of their business practices.

"We can't debate whether we should be conducting business in a sustainable way," he said. "Business have to operate in such a way that it enables vast majiroty of SA to have a stake and benefit."

He said Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) launched their ‘contract with South Africa’ that will focus on job creation and inclusive growth in Alexandra, because it was not only for the people of Sandton.

"If people in Alex, don't know where they are going to get the money to put food on plates, what are they going to do," he asked. "I can't stand in judgment on how they would react."

He said people in Sandton needed to realise if they didn't' want the inequalities, unemployment and poverty to persist, they would need to form partnerships that deal with these issues dogging South Africa. "We have to work together."

But Coovadia also said that real structural reforms will have to be made to address the goals to create a better life for the South Africa's marginalised. "And these discussions will be difficult."

He said restructuring of economy must be seen in context of a model of new growth for South Africa. "This creates new economic opportunities for everyone."

Transparent South African businesses

Valli Moosa who sits on several of South African businesses' boards and also chairs WWF South Africa praised South African business as being the most transparent in the world, adding that South Africa was a leader when it came to sustainability reporting. 

South African business are more transparent than NGO's or the religious sector, who doesn't report on what they pay their staff.  And more transparent than government," Moosa, a former minister, said.

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cas coovadia  |  jeff radebe  |  sustainability


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