VIJAY NAIDOO: Good Business Basics – Budding ‘bromance’ may not benefit us

Good Luck Mr. President…

The budding ‘bromance’ between our President and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has been the talk of the opening day of the Brics Summit in Sandton. President Ramaphosa has been effusive in his expression of willingness to learn from the experiences of China, in how they managed in less than 30 years, to lift 800 million of their people out of poverty.

Alas, I believe our President’s confidence in replicating China’s successes will come to nought, and this is why.
Firstly, the intense focus, bordering on ruthlessness to achieve goals only derives from absolute control and dominance of the State, a feature of the Communist led Chinese state. In this context, the State is held to know with absolute certainty what is best for its citizens. This level of state dominance allowed China to move 1,4m villagers from their ancestral homes and farms to enable the construction of the gigantic 3 Gorges dam in the early 2000’s.

Secondly, state officials are held to absolute account in project execution. Consequence management is enforced across the board, with sanctions being long prison terms, or execution for serious infractions.

Thirdly, China has created the technical expertise through its schooling and tertiary education systems to support its rapid growth. They are hardly reliant on any outside expertise in most fields of their economy, having copied or bought the requisite technological skills. They were thus masters of their own developmental destiny.
Finally, China developed long term plans, and stuck to them. Milestones were strictly policed, and policy certainty and political stability (bedrock Communism) ensured execution. How many of our vaunted National Development Plan (NDP) goals are we likely to achieve by 2030?

There is little doubt that China can share many of their development models with us. Achieving the same, or anything close to the same outcomes in our environment will require a sea of change in the attitudes, performance and expectations of both the citizenry and the State officials tasked with executing them.
Good Luck Mr. President…

Vijay Naidoo is the CEO of the Port Shepstone Business Forum. He writes in his personal capacity. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.


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