Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso said Eskom is the biggest existential threat to South Africa, which justifies the association’s funding of the utility’s former CEO Andre de Ruyter’s controversial private investigation into Eskom.
“We stand by that report because if not the private sector, then who?” Mavuso said in the latest instalment of the PSG Think Big series.
She said the private sector has a vested interest in solving the country’s electricity crisis. However, the government and the broader South African society also benefit from “getting to the bottom of what’s wrong at Eskom”, which De Ruyter’s investigation aimed to do, Mavuso said.
“Eskom is the single biggest existential threat we have as a country. If we do not sort that out, we can forget about having a conducive trading environment within which to operate.”
“Never again will business stand on the sidelines,” she said. “Enabling a capable state is part of our strategic focus, and funding this data-gathering exercise, which the police and the government failed to do, was part of the ‘enabling a capable state’ intervention.”
A partnership initiative was recently announced between the private and public sectors whereby business leaders will form part of workstreams tasked with solving the country’s most pressing problems, including the energy crisis, transport and logistics, and crime and corruption.
Mavuso said the litmus test for whether their efforts are successful will be whether they ensure the country draws foreign investment.
South Africa has been losing a lot of investments to East Africa. “We are no longer the destination of choice for investors wanting to invest in Africa,” she said.
This is because many local and global investors have lost trust in the country’s growth prospects and the government’s ability to address South Africa’s significant problems.
Mavuso said the government lacks the resources to address the country’s crises but has the necessary policy tools.
Therefore, the private sector can provide the required “fiscal muscles” while the government gets the policy environment right for investments.