Sunday Times Q&A with Bonang Mohale, the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa

29/08/2017 | By Admin

Business says it believes in South Africa and has pledged to create jobs. Chris Barron asked the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, Bonang Mohale

How can you say business believes in South Africa?
Because business is patriotic. It has been in this country since time immemorial …

But now businesses are rushing for the exit, aren’t they?
There are still 400 listed companies on the JSE, and more than 4000 that are operating.

If they believe in South Africa, why aren’t they investing in the country?
They employ more than 13million people, and invest as we speak.

So why are they sitting on a cash pile of more than R1-trillion?
I’m just looking at the Sandton skyline and the new head offices that are being built by business.

There’s still more than a trillion rand that they’re not investing.
For them to invest more, they need regulatory certainty and political stability.

Given that we don’t have this, how many of the promises in your pledge are attainable?
We wouldn’t make these promises if we were not going to do everything possible to make sure we bring them about.

Can you, under present conditions?
We have to do something.

How can you promise to create jobs while, as you speak, thousands are being retrenched?
If we create 10 more learnerships per business …

You promise to grow the economy. If you can grow the economy under current conditions why isn’t it growing?
It’s growing. At less than 1%, but it’s still growing.

Aren’t we in recession?
Some countries take only two years to come out of a recession…

Isn’t the danger, if business makes promises it doesn’t deliver on, that it’s another nail in capitalism’s coffin?
This pledge has been well thought out, debated and endorsed by 80 CEOs who are cleverer than I am.

It’s still like false advertising, surely, to say you’re going to deliver what clearly you can’t?
That’s not true. Shoprite Checkers just employed 4,000 people.

Didn’t PnP just retrench 4,000?
That’s why we’re saying: let’s see whether together we can’t do something special.

How do you get people to believe in capitalism when for 23 years it has failed to deliver?
Simply because there has never been any other system that has worked as sustainably.

That’s cold comfort for millions without jobs, homes or hope.
The hope we can give our people is to continue to support small and medium enterprises, because that is where jobs are created.

How can you say business subscribes to values of integrity when it funds the ANC?
Businesses have always decided on their own how they are going to use their money.

The ratings agencies say the greatest obstacle to growth is political. So how can business afford to be apolitical?
Because we have chosen not to be political.

Isn’t it time to get political?
We have chosen not to.