SA gears up to celebrate 30 years of democracy while aiming to attract investments

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By Thoko Modise, Acting Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Communications, Brand South Africa

 

 

This week’s announcement of May 29th as the date of the next elections, as well as the successful delivery of the Budget speech, continues a flurry of positive news throughout this first quarter this of year, as South Africa prepares to celebrate 30 years of democracy and aim to attract more domestic and foreign investment.

 

 

As South Africa prepares to hold its seventh national and provincial all-inclusive election, let us be reminded of a democracy that was won through a fierce struggle against are apartheid.

 

 

Let us not take for granted the ability to hold elections at a promised time and have their outcome respected by all parties or use mechanisms like the electoral court to settle disputes. We must protect democratic institutions like the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure political stability, which is critical to attracting investments.

 

 

The R 2,3 billion budget allocation by the Minister of Finance this week, to the Independent Electoral Commission, and the R350 million for law enforcement specifically around the elections is to be welcomed.

 

 

This was not the only piece of good news for investment attraction and protection contained in the budget. The use of higher revenue growth to reduce the budget deficit quicker and the use of R150 billions of gains from foreign exchange reserves to reduce the Public Service Borrowing Requirement will go a long way towards preserving the integrity of South Africa’s public finances.

 

 

A total of R64 billion is being devoted to job creation measures. This is also welcomed following the recent news that unemployment edged up towards 32.1% in the last quarter of last year.

 

 

Unemployment remains our biggest challenge and a blight on our democracy. Efforts to address it require the government to create an environment that allows the private sector to create jobs, while government contributes job opportunities of its own.

 

 

The budget also devoted considerable resources to the fight against corruption comes at an opportune time towards reshaping the image and reputation of the country. Most importantly the R628 million allocation towards addressing the country’s greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force and State Capture Commission, brings the total dedicated to this effort to R2.3 billion.

 

 

The Budget, together with the State of the Nation Address, also showcased how South Africa continues to lead in the fight against climate change. This has been achieved through the establishment of the Climate Change Response Fund, first announced in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Ramaphosa, and the mobilization of $3.3 billion so far to support climate change and Just Energy Transition objectives.

 

 

 

The introduction of incentives for the Electric Vehicle production is welcome as a move that gives South Africa a foothold in a crucial and growing global market. This will help to attract investment into renewable minerals used in EV battery production and is envisaged to draw in neighbouring Southern African countries.

 

 

We are a nation of benign winters and glorious summers, and very few people in the world can bask in the glory and acclaim that our artists, sportsmen, and women continue to bring. From Tyla’s Grammy Award win for Best African Performance to Bafana Bafana’s commendable third place at the African Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast, to Sivenathi Nontshinga being crowned the new IBF world Light Flyweight champions, while Team SA scooped seven medals at the World Cross Country Championship in Oman and Kgothatso Montjane and Mariska Venter at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Africa Qualification. All these bode well to lift the mood ahead of the 30 years of democracy celebration.

 

 

This quarter also saw the first shipment of goods under the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. This is significant for the long-term growth of Intra-Africa Trade, which currently stands at 16%. It will create significant opportunities for the continent’s producers and must be embraced.

 

 

Earlier this month, South Africa successfully hosted the Investing in African Mining Indaba, which also celebrated its 30th anniversary. While the conference heard of R400 billion worth of projects in mining over the past few years, the more significant news was that the Minister of Minerals Resources has appointed a consortium of service providers to implement the cadaster system to process new mining applications. This is good news, as it will help South Africa raise its global share of exploration spending which currently stands at 1%, down from about 5% in 2003, according to the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy.

 

 

The year and quarter kicked off with a successful attendance at the World Economic Forum, where a strong delegation, led by Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, presented Team South Africa’s message of its determination to resolve the country’s energy and logistical challenges, while business affirmed the private sector’s commitment to help the country’s efforts on sustainability, Africa’s development, and the response to climate change.

 

 

The finance minister ended off his speech by quoting former President Nelson Mandela to remind us as that the top of one hill is the bottom of another. And so it is that as a country, as we overcome one challenge, we are faced with others.

 

 

South Africa must use its status as an influential nation brand and chairmanship of the G20, set to resume next year, to punch above its weight and champion Africa’s development and investment drive. We too, like Madiba, dare not linger.

 

 

 

Let the festivities for thirty years of democracy begin.

* This opinion piece was originally published in the Business Report