How to save South Africa – A CEO guide

Ralph Mupita

Some of South Africa’s top CEOs recently told the Financial Mail what they would do to turn the country around, and three key focus areas stood out – energy and power logistics, crime and accountability, and fixing South Africa’s metros.

In terms of energy and power logistics, many CEOs weighed in on how to fix Eskom.

MTN CEO Ralph Mupita and Business Leadership South Africa CEO Busi Mavuso pointed to the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill as critical to addressing this crisis.

Mupita said this Bill is key to Eskom’s unbundling and must be passed before the 2024 elections.

Mavuso said the Bill is central to “creating an electricity transmission system to manage the grid and procure electricity from a competitive market”.

There were also other suggestions to address the electricity crisis. 

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman proposed a fast-track administrative process for new electricity generation projects. 

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman agreed, saying, “Open up the energy space without restriction for more independent power producers to assist with energy production.” 

“Don’t focus on selling energy back to Eskom as we don’t have the infrastructure or the finance for that. Rather, get more people off the grid — and they must not be charged any fee for that by municipalities.”

Investec CEO Fani Titi suggested South Africa deploy experienced engineers and technicians “in great numbers” to Eskom to address the utility’s skills crisis.

Crime and accountability were another key theme among the CEOs’ responses. 

Former Absa CEO Maria Ramos, who currently serves as AngloGold Ashanti chairperson, said, “More lives are lost to violent crimes and gender-based violence in our country than in countries at war’.

“It is shocking and unacceptable, yet no one has been fired, stepped down, or held accountable. The state is responsible for protecting citizens, and it is failing.”

To address this problem, she suggested a senior leadership change in the police and immediate changes to personnel, systems technology and training.

She said targets and outcomes should be publicised monthly, and community policing forums should be established. 

Titi said that, when it comes to crime, “every effort should be made to increase capable policing”.

“Corruption cannot be tolerated, and transparent performance criteria must be put in place to hold individuals to account.”

Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala said South Africa needs a more decentralised and diverse approach to addressing corruption and other forms of crime. 

He said the country needs fully independent versions of the Special Investigating Unit, the Hawks, and autonomous provincial and metro police forces.

Image credit: JoburgPlaces & IkapaPlaces

South Africa’s broken towns and cities also frequently appeared in the CEOs’ answers. 

Mupita suggested South Africa capacitate its metros, particularly Johannesburg, using private sector skills “to arrest the decline in service delivery”.

Gore said, “We cannot accept our cities as they are.” He also suggested collaboration between the private and public sectors to address the problems in South Africa’s metros.

Ramos also lamented the state of South Africa’s cities, saying local government is in a “shocking state”.

“The politics should be resolved; lenders must be firm about the risks they will accept; and the systemic risks of failing municipalities and metros must be discussed in parliament,” she suggested.

Again, she said targets should be published, and a monthly schedule and report on delivery should be produced.


Top JSE indices