In a recent meeting between top CEOs of South African companies, many listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and the Ramaphosa-led government, critical measures to address crime, corruption, energy crisis, and infrastructure deterioration were discussed. However, the timing of this agreement, just 12 months before the country’s next general elections, raises questions about whether big business is inadvertently supporting the political status quo.
The partnership with the African National Congress (ANC)-led government may serve as a much-needed blessing for the ANC’s election campaign in 2024. While it is essential for business to work with the government to tackle national challenges, the history of racialized economic development and misgovernance in South Africa has left millions of ordinary citizens, particularly the poorest, without significant improvements in their lives.
Despite countless exposés on ANC-related criminality, little accountability has been seen, and implicated individuals often continue to hold positions of power. The ANC’s current leader, President Ramaphosa, who promised hope upon taking office, has yet to fulfill expectations fully. The fear of his successor, Paul Mashatile, leads many to prefer the “devil they know.”
With the upcoming elections, business leaders are striving to project an image turnaround for the Ramaphosa-led ANC government, focusing on measures to grow the economy and reduce unemployment. However, skepticism remains, as achieving these goals may take time and consistent adherence beyond the elections.
South Africa needs help to recover from its past misgovernance, and the involvement of organized business is crucial. Success in implementing new approaches may lead to a win-win situation, but vigilance is necessary to ensure genuine progress for the public’s interests.
As the country looks ahead, the question of trust in safeguarding and enhancing public interests remains a pressing concern.