Last week an important new vehicle for business cooperation with the government began its journey, writes BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso.

At a meeting at the Union Buildings, organised business, together with several CEOs of major South African businesses, met with the president and several of his ministers to discuss an urgent plan to address the most pressing priorities we face as a country.

We focused on three areas: energy, logistics, and crime.

Each workstream now has had two CEOs appointed to drive the business contribution to the partnership.

These are CEOs with a great deal of experience and insight into the effects of electricity shortages and logistics disruptions, as well as the impact of crime and corruption.

They also bring decades of experience in leading complex organisations and ensuring delivery.

Nolitha Fakude, chair of Anglo American SA, and Fleetwood Grobbelar, CEO of Sasol will focus on energy.

Mxolisi Mgojo, the former CEO of Exxaro, and Andrew Kirby, the CEO of Toyota South Africa will drive the logistics effort.

Crime and corruption will be led by Neal Froneman, the CEO of Sibanye, and Jannie Durand, CEO of Remgro.

These are some of our most experienced business leaders.

They demonstrate again the deep pool of capacity that business can draw on to support the government on our most urgent national priorities.

Each workstream will be assisted by organised business structures.

The Energy Council of South Africa will support energy, BUSA and the Public Private Growth Initiative will back logistics while BLSA subsidiary Business Against Crime will back the crime and corruption stream.

The partnership is being overseen by Business for South Africa, the implementation arm of Business Unity South Africa that was key in mobilising partnerships for the fight against Covid-19.

The government has lined up the appropriate public sector bodies for each stream.

The National Energy Crisis Committee, National Logistics Crisis Committee and Joint Initiative to Fight Crime and Corruption will be the main vehicles for public sector engagement.

They will draw on officials from different government departments, Operation Vulindlela and, in the crime workstream, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure.

It was a genuine and positive meeting that has enthused business to pull together and partner with the government to deal with the most urgent priorities through clear programmes of action.

This is not about new policies but about urgently implementing long-agreed policy in key areas and then investing, to kickstart economic growth and rebuild confidence.

It will take resources, many of which business has already been contributing.

For example, BLSA played a key role in supporting the Resource Mobilisation Fund to raise R100m to aid NECOM to bring in the skills and resources it needs to tackle key issues in our electricity crisis.

Similarly, resources will be pulled together to support the logistics and crime workstreams.

The spirit of the meeting last week reminded me of some of the finest hours of the partnership with government to tackle Covid-19.

It was practical and focused on getting things done, not endless discussion.

As during Covid, it will benefit enormously from the time, freely provided, of top business leaders to drive delivery.

The president welcomed the initiative and has committed the government to work with business to deliver.

BLSA will play a key part as a member of the steering committee for the project, and in our other operations that are relevant to different workstreams.

The three work streams all fit clearly in our strategy to create a conducive environment for business to thrive and deliver inclusive economic growth.

This is the beginning of a journey that government and business will walk together.

The issues we must deal with are deep and will require serious commitment from both sides.

It must not be subject to political expediency but focused on action.

I am glad the president shares our view that this must be a long-term partnership.

To solve our challenges we will need huge investment into projects with multi-year lifecycles.

It is the beginning of a journey together, but I am strongly encouraged by the commitment that the government has shown, as well as the support from leaders across business to make sure we deliver.

*This column was first published in the Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) weekly newsletter. The author Busisiwe “Busi” Mavuso, is the CEO of BLSA.

*The views Mavuso expresses in this column are not necessarily those of The Bulrushes

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