Billionaire Christo Wiese’s simple plan to boost property investments in South Africa

Billionaire businessman Christo Wiese said automatically approving building plans after three months if the municipality does not engage is an excellent way to cut red tape.

Wiese made this suggestion during a question-and-answer session at the BizNews Conference held in Hermanus.

He said red tape is causing tremendous damage to South Africa’s business environment and the economy.

Starting a business in South Africa is far more cumbersome than in a country like Rwanda, where it takes only three days.

Wiese said reducing red tape and making it easy to start a business has made Rwanda an African success story.

In comparison, South Africa is steeped in bureaucratic processes, making it very difficult to start and run a business.

Wiese gave the example of his daughter waiting two and a half years to get planning permission to add a bedroom to her house in Cape Town.

Cape Town is considered a well-run municipality, so it illustrates the challenges with red tape in the country.

Wiese added that he is involved in a project close to his office that could be “an absolute jewel for Cape Town”.

“I am now in year three of trying to get the necessary approvals. However, I am still nowhere,” he said.

“Architects tell me that billions of rands worth of building plans – many funded by foreign investors – are stuck in the pipeline.”

He added that inefficient local and national government systems play into corrupt officials’ hands.

“Corruption exacerbates bureaucracy. It’s a vicious cycle. More rules mean more chances for corruption. We must tackle both with nuance and positivity,” he said.

He said the government should create a business-friendly environment and cut red tape to unlock investment in South Africa.

Wiese suggested a system in which a building plan is automatically approved after three months if the local authority has not approved it or engaged with the applicant within that time.

Such a system will compensate for poorly run local governments, which can cause unnecessary delays and hold back investments.


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