PARTNERSHIP WITH BUSINESS SHOWS THAT WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER

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Dear Fellow South African,

The remarkable progress made in the partnership between government and business over the last nine months shows just how much we can get done when we work together.

The partnership was established in June last year to tackle the electricity supply crisis, the severe challenges in freight rail and port operations, and crime and corruption. These areas were identified as the most immediate obstacles to faster growth and job creation. By addressing these challenges we would be able to unleash great potential in our economy.

We decided on a focused approach, undertaking those actions that would have the greatest impact in each area. Where appropriate, business has participated in government’s broader response to these challenges, and has dedicated substantial resources and skills in supporting government’s work. Since the partnership began, the private sector has contributed more than R170 million of direct support and has mobilised over 350 technical experts. More than 130 CEOs of the country’s leading companies have pledged their support.

This collaboration builds on several successful partnerships between government and other social partners in recent years. Drawing on the collective capabilities of business, labour and civil society, we were able to mount an effective response to the COVID pandemic and develop an economic recovery plan. We have also worked together in other areas, such as in combating gender-based violence, putting in place a national minimum wage and turning the tide against HIV and AIDS.

Last week, we held our regular meeting of ministers and business leaders to assess progress and chart the way forward. Significant strides have been made across all the areas of work.

Since November 2023, load shedding is 61% lower than in the same period a year ago. Among other things, this has been made possible by the return of units at Kusile power station and the impact of new generation capacity from rooftop solar and private sector investment. Under the leadership of its new Group CEO, Eskom is finalising an agreement with business to deploy additional independent skilled experts to support Eskom.

Business is supporting a number of the workstreams of the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC), providing technical, security and operational expertise to Transnet’s efforts to improve the performance of ports and freight rail.

Working together with all stakeholders, Transnet has, for example, achieved a 45% reduction in vessels anchored outside the Port of Durban and a 36% reduction in the waiting time to anchor for container vessels. A major success has been the provision of security by business on the rail network, which has resulted in a 65% reduction in criminal incidents on the Northern Corridor, reducing the number of trains cancelled. Work is currently underway to ramp up the deployment of SAPS resources to secure network infrastructure in the longer term.

Steady progress has been made in the crime and corruption focal area. Through the Joint Initiative on Crime and Corruption (JICC), the private sector is providing business information and resources to assist with the fight against infrastructure crime. Support has also been provided to modernise the 10111 helpline, with a pilot project initiated at the main call centre in Midrand, and the establishment with the Hawks of a forensics analysis centre.

Building on this progress, government and business are now focused on actions that will make a considerable and lasting difference over the course of the next few months.

Among other things, we are working to increase electricity generation capacity from different sources by up to 10,600 MW, which will enable a significant reduction in the severity of load shedding by the end of this year. This includes improved Eskom plant performance, additional private investment in rooftop solar and large-scale power projects, and connecting projects from previous renewable energy bid windows to the grid.

Following the recent appointment of permanent executive leadership, Transnet is focused on rebuilding internal capacity and drawing on private sector technical resources to restore the operational performance of strategic rail corridors.

An important part of the work to tackle crime and corruption will be the passage of the NPA Amendment Bill, which will strengthen the independence and investigating capacity of the NPA. It will also enable the establishment of additional infrastructure to support the Investigating Directorate as a permanent entity, including a dedicated forensics laboratory. A key focus of the partnership is to secure South Africa’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force grey list by at least June 2025.

While this partnership between government and business has been focused on specific immediate actions, the broader work to grow the economy and create jobs draws on the contributions and capabilities of all social partners and stakeholders.

As we work to rebuild our economy, we will strive to deepen these partnerships and to reach out to all South Africans to be involved in these efforts. By broadening the involvement of all social partners in this work, we will continue to build durable social compacts that make a real difference in people’s lives.

We have long believed that it is only by working together that we can make progress. The partnership between government and business has shown what is possible when we are focused and committed towards the achievement of a common goal.

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