The capacity and need to act in one’s own self-interest is a primordial instinct, irretrievably embedded in the DNA that prescribes human conduct. This is why the experiments of social engineers who seek to ‘create’ the selfless socialist man or woman always end in unmitigated calamity. Self-interest defines human conduct, whether individual or collective. To act in one’s own self-interest does not negate the interests of others, but enhances them.
How can South African businesses find economic value in the country's social challenges? Maritha Erasmus, CEO, Managing Transformation Solutions Holdings, was interviewed on this challenging topic. "There has never been a better time and opportunity for executives and senior management leading businesses in South Africa to find economic value in the country's immense and complex social problems."
Mr Ramaphosa, like most South Africans I am relieved that you have ascended to the country’s highest political post. However, you of all people know that you start your Presidency with an economy in deep trouble – and one in which the unemployed have been almost completely ignored.
The current water crisis in the Western Cape has highlighted serious problems with South Africa’s approach to water management and finding viable solutions.
Trust among the general South African population in the mainstream institutions of government, media, non-governmental organisations and business is in steady decline. However, the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that while only 14 percent of the general population trusts the government, 77 percent believe that chief executive officers should take the lead on change rather than waiting for government to impose it.
When the democratically elected government took power in 1994, led by the ANC, three central elements of land policy were announced: land restitution, land redistribution and tenure reform. Land issues are being debated intensely and there are a number of interesting new developments: a new presidency of the ANC; a pending Restitution Amendment Act at present invalidated by the Constitutional Court; the High-Level Panel report to parliament; a new Communal Tenure Bill; and a land audit by AgriSA.
The South African Parliament agreed on 27 February 2018 to review section 25 of the Constitution with a view to amending the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation as tabled by the Economic Freedom Front. This was met with surprise and consternation from banks, the agricultural industry and the international investor community.
During the State of Nation Address, the President of RSA Cyril Ramaphosa said the ANC plans to have a consultative public discussion to explore the merits of the ANC conference resolution on land expropriation without compensation. The ANC and South African government are certainly focused on the land reform project. In my view however, they are not thinking in the right direction.
Governments are often tempted to obfuscate reality through populist promises. South Africa is no different in this regard. For 23 years, health policy has gone from the 1995 policy paper on ‘free healthcare’ for all, to a Social Health Insurance (SHI) proposal in 1999 – hated by labour because it included a payroll tax. By 2004, reality set in. Free healthcare for all was simply not possible.
Many South Africans feel that they woke from a nightmare and that the morning is near. Hearing that Mr. Ramaphosa wants to put South Africa first and that he wants to get people employed is viewed with cautious optimism. Many South Africans still feel the sting of a hostile and selfish national leadership and it will take time to regain the people’s trust.