Team SA gears up for WEF

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

As the annual World Economic Forum meeting draws closer, Team South Africa has met to chart the path for South Africa’s strategy at Davos, Switzerland.

The meeting, which kicks off on 22 to 26 January 2019, brings together more than 3 000 leaders from business, government, civil society, academia, arts and culture and media, as well as the foremost experts and young leaders from all over the world.

The 2019 theme for this year’s gathering is ‘Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Team South Africa, which comprises the leadership of government, business and labour, held a pre-WEF breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

The breakfast provided an opportunity for Team South Africa to develop an integrated approach to South Africa’s input into the WEF deliberations and to identify areas of emphasis in presenting South Africa as a desired investment destination and trade partner.

“My take is that we are going to Davos on a firm footing… We have been building and stabilising the platform so that we can generate further growth in our economy,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa at the pre-WEF gathering.

The President said among the key messages that should be punted by Team SA is that government is open for business.

To provide fertile ground for investment, government is stabilising State-owned enterprises with particular emphasis on Eskom and key institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Revenue Service.

The breakfast also provided government and business bigwigs an opportunity to thrash out concerns and engage on burning issues and how to better position South Africa at Davos.

Nonkululeko Nyembezi, the independent non-executive chair of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), raised concerns at the governing party’s stance and intention with the Reserve Bank following its manifesto launch at the weekend, which included a review of the central bank's mandate

In response to Nyembezi, President Ramaphosa said the ANC did not express an intention to change the mandate of the central bank but a wish that the bank considers employment in its monetary policy deliberations.

“There is no intention to tamper with the independence of the central bank. The wish that is expressed is that as it goes ahead with its policy decision, it should also keep an eye on the issue of employment,” said the President.

Standard Bank Chief Executive Sim Tshabalala probed the President on South Africa’s ambitions in terms of World Bank ease of doing business rankings.

President Ramaphosa agreed with Tshabalala that South Africa needs to improve the ease of doing business.

“We are not well positioned and we need to improve on that. We need to remove bureaucratic clutter and half the time it takes to get permits,” said the President.

The Davos delegation, led by President Ramaphosa, will be coordinated by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

Government will be represented by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation; Economic Development; Trade & Industry; Public Enterprises; Health; Energy, and Communications. –