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Working Together

Working Together

In the July/August 2019 issue of aBr, we looked at rays of light in South Africa. To add some flesh to these luminescent bones, I made my way to the second Nedgroup Investments ENGAGE event at Melrose Arch on 28 August 2019. The ENGAGE event consists of panel discussions, which focus on how government and business leadership need to work more effectively together; responsible investing; digital transformation and fintech; and retirement fund reform.

My focus was on the first panel discussion, which explored the concept of government and business working together, and the panellists did not disappoint. The panellists were Edward Kieswetter, commissioner at SARS; Karima Brown, TV anchor and journalist; Malungelo Zilimbola, chief investment officer at Mazi Capital; Enoch Godongwana, ANC head of economic development; and Mark Barnes, former CEO at SAPO. They had to respond to the prelude that said, “now more than ever, it is important for South African government and business leaders to work together. For our country to thrive, it requires a healthy private sector, a transparent public sector and an active civil society. Increased collaboration and partnerships between the sectors are needed to carve out an inclusive and sustainable future. For too long, we’ve operated in silos, are of what the other is doing but unwilling to extend a hand and share notes. We need dedicated, accountable, transparent leadership from government and business that act in the best interests of our country and our people. How can we foster leadership that’s geared for sustainable growth and prosperity for all?”

This prelude says it all, but it will be instructive to give aBr’s reader some selected quotes from the panellists. I love quotes, because they say so much, and yet say so little, depending on the viewpoint of the reader. I know that aBr’s readers are intelligent and inquisitive, so I give them food for thought, and ammunition for discussion:

Brown: “Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing again and again, and expecting a different outcome, is a sign of madness”

Barnes: “What is missing is common purpose, such as the Rugby World Cup in 1995”

Kieswetter: “We must stop protecting our narrowest of self-interests, and our politicians must stop being in denial”

Zilimbola: “The goose that lays the golden egg is the economy”

Godongwana: “We have a crisis in leadership. We need to agree on a common vision, and then we can go forward. And compromise is the magic bullet!”

Brown: “Organised labour has got away scot free from state capture”

Barnes: “Rules only regulate, they don’t drive behaviour”

Kieswetter: “We need synthesising forces, engaging around a higher purpose”

Zilimbola: “What is a developmental state? This is ideological language which is confusing – no one knows what it means”

Godongwana: “ANC policies are not the problem; execution is the problem”

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