News / South Africa

Nkululeko Ncana
3 minute read
5 Jul 2017
5:20 am

Populist path ‘a no-go’, Investec CEO warns ANC leaders

Nkululeko Ncana

Stephen Koseff called for better protection of SA’s key institutions and the end of making the private sector a scapegoat.

Investec CEO Stephen Koseff warned ANC leaders this week that populist policies, such as the recently amended Mining Charter, would spell disaster in the long term.

Speaking at a breakfast on the sidelines of the ANC’s fifth policy conference yesterday, Koseff also warned against using the private sector as a “scapegoat for all society’s ills” which, he said, was a distraction to enable the ongoing looting of state coffers.

The country was in an economic crisis and it was more important than ever for business, labour and government to pull together and find a common solution to get out of the current downturn and build a sustainable, deracialised and inclusive economy.

“Many of us feel despondent as we connect the dots of leaked e-mails, evidence of corruption and attacks on our democratic institutions and the constitution. We cannot watch as we continue to falter. This is not government’s problem alone and it’s important that we recognise that this is a societal problem and one that business also has an important role in addressing,” he said.

Koseff called for improved protection of the country’s key institutions, such as the Reserve Bank, saying interference in these spheres would escalate the downward spiral, inevitably leading to the poorest South Africans suffering even more.

“Many people don’t understand the consequences of a loose monetary policy that ends up with rapid inflation. Our institutions need to be protected, our country’s immune system is crucial in fighting the self-replicating virus of corruption, poor governance and ineptitude.

“We recognise there are still far too many poor people. However, millions have managed to aspire for a lot more,” he said.

Koseff told ANC leaders at the policy conference that building a capable state had excited business when the National Development Plan (NDP) was released. He said the implementation of the NDP needed to gain traction to get the country and economy on an upward trajectory.

Although he disagreed with capitalism in its “purest form”, with a few modifications it was still the best model on which to build the economy, he said.

He further called for decisiveness on policies that needed to be implemented to attract foreign investment to the country.

“Populist policies are clearly not the way to go. While they may be politically expedient in the short term, they have disastrous long-term repercussions.

“It is disappointing that we have a flipflop on policies. I think certain regulations have been chaotic. The more recent Mining Charter, we believe as business, was crazy. It was not properly processed and it ultimately puts off investors.

“We saw the impact on the rand when the public protector mentioned fiddling with the mandate of the Reserve Bank, and the Mining Charter itself wiped R50 billion off JSE mining shares.

“All of this has consequences, like the credit rating downgrades.”

He added that the education system should be aligned with the available job opportunities so the country’s youth could be equipped with skills they need to apply for “jobs that do exist”. –