SACCI Press Statement – SACCI response to President Ramaphosa’ s SONA

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI), welcomes President Ramaphosa’ s SONA address.

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The intent to revitalize the economy through small business Centres where youth entrepreneurs will be given both technical and financial support is an added significant positive move. We also welcome the decisiveness around resolving the capital and operational issues surrounding the power utility Eskom and we look forward to the presentation of the Budget to see how this will be funded.

Whilst the President has indicated good objectives especially in how to ignite the economy, we are looking forward to getting an understanding of the actual execution plans. At this time, we wish to encourage the President to communicate his clear plans in the area of how these objectives are to be delivered.
In our considered view, the restructuring of the civil service will be a central critical success factor. In this regard the President needs to consider that the restructuring of the civil service needs to look at the areas of selection, recruitment and retention; training and development; performance management and a change in culture and a value based performing civil service.

We also believe that the issue of the compensation structure for the civil service executives now needs an urgent review. The top civil service jobs should be able to attract the best talent available in society whether in the public or private sectors.

Without restructuring this area, it is not likely that the objectives laid out in the SONA speech will be achieved.
The critical success factors for any organization are the right people, the right values and the right culture. By people we mean highly qualified, highly experienced with a strong performance trackrecord.

Given the major challenges facing SA and the big plans announced by the President, the time has come to make the civil service an attractive employer. Similarly, on the intractable issue of SOE governance, we believe the time has now come to give consideration to how SOE boards are appointed. Billions of Rands have been lost by SOEs and the area of governance and performance have been identified as key culprits. To enable the state to move forward in this area we propose that a structure similar to that of the Judicial Service Commission must now be established to handle the appointments of board members to SOEs. As with the appointment of judges, this should be done via public hearings. It therefore should be the prerogative of the boards so appointed to handle the employment and performance management of SOE executives.

The capital calls that have been made to support SOEs that are in trouble should be accompanied by clear plans on the filling up of senior level vacancies plus the viable turnaround plans. In this regard the requests for capital injections should be accompanied by the commissioning of robust restructuring capabilities, including the appointment of such personnel who have commensurate and relevant experience in handling complex turnarounds.

As the biggest representative business organization, the SACCI accepts the President’s invitation for business to get involved with these plans and we look forward to engaging the President and his ministers to seek ways of making all this work.

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