“If you talk to the average citizen, average business person, they would sum up their message by saying that the three words that will make a big difference for South Africa are: implementation, implementation, implementation – that’s where the emphasis has to fall,” BUSA’s deputy CEO Raymond Parsons told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.
“That also means much more co-operation between the government and the private sector to make things happen, and to improve the delivery that the man in the street is asking for.”
This after the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its latest World Competitiveness Report, which shows that Mauritius has overtaken South Africa as the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This isn’t the first time that Mauritius has overtaken South Africa, they’ve sort of been jockeying for first place over the last several years. What happened this year is that Mauritius put in place a number of important reforms. On the other hand, in South Africa we saw a bit of a weakening in specifically, the area of macro,” Jennifer Blanke, chief economist at WEF had said.
“Overall, two very competitive economies for Africa and both really doing well in a lot of the more complex areas that we measure in the report,” she added.
Parsons indicated that he was not entirely surprised by the results of the report and emphasised the need to achieve the outcomes of a national plan, such as the National Development Plan, to develop South Africa’s competitiveness.
“Mauritius have perhaps piped us of the post because some reforms have started to help them and isn’t that the message? If you have certain structural weaknesses, and that is what the NDP has identified, we’re not going to get out of a low growth trap unless we take some bold decisions about how to implement that particular plan or implement within the framework of that plan,” he said.
“We talk about the enabling state, the development state, all these wonderful sounding words. I think what the man in the street wants is a delivery state, they want to see outcomes. That’s the message of the National Development Plan.”
He added that this may be the last opportunity that South Africa has to mobilise the country towards a path of a stronger and better economy.
“When we look at the messages, I think what we are seeing is that it resonates with the debate in South Africa about what should be our priorities. I’m thinking in particular of the National Development Plan, which identifies a number of these weaknesses, especially in the field of education.”