Mbeki, business leaders meet

24 August 2007

The issues of electricity security, improvements to South Africa’s criminal justice system, and skills development dominated the agenda of President Thabo Mbeki’s meeting with local business leaders in Cape Town on Thursday.

The second meeting of the year between the Presidency and the Big Business Working Group discussed recommendations on how to manage the changeover to new capacity in the midst of tight electricity supplies in the country.

Safika Holdings deputy chairman Saki Macozoma told reporters after the meeting that possible measures discussed included looking at the role of independent power producers (IPPs).

According to a document on local government expenditure released last year by the National Treasury, a tender has been issued for IPPs to provide about 1 000 megawatts of new capacity by 2009.

Other measures discussed at Thursday’s meeting included the role of renewable sources of electricity and continued demand-side management of electricity usage.

Macozoma said the current electricity supply situation would not necessarily affect South Africa’s economic growth. At the same time, he emphasised the importance of raising awareness on saving electricity among both household and industrial consumers.

State electricity company Eskom has already made considerable savings from such measures, a factor that would be critical during the next five years, the meeting noted.

Crime
Another key item discussed was the partnership between business and the government in tackling crime in South Africa.

The meeting noted that crime levels were still high in the country, but expressed satisfaction with progress in key areas, such as the fight against organised violent crime and the overall re-engineering of the criminal justice system.

The government made a presentation on a plan to improve the capacity and efficiency of the justice system. Details of the plan will be presented to the Cabinet before being publiched for public comment

Macozoma said a key element of the plan was ensuring “systemic planning” across the criminal justice system.

Skills development
The third key issue discussed at Thursday’s meeting was how investment in skills development had progressed in the country.

Macozoma said skills development was a key focus area for business, with research showing that South Africa companies are generally spending about 4.7% of their payrolls on training, including the one percent already going to the skills development levy.

Macozoma added that he was unsure as to the quality of this training, and said this was an issue to be examined in the future.

A key question related to the training of artisans, whose skills are in great demand as South Africa experiences a construction boom.

Source: BuaNews