5 March 2012
South Africa is politically and economically stable and investors should not be put off by debate about the country’s policies, which is natural in a fledgling democracy, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Addressing the Ernst and Young Strategic Growth Forum Africa at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town on Friday, Motlanthe said it was “normal in a fledgling democracy that you will have a plethora of views, but we think we are doing very well in terms of national cohesion”.
The country has been alive with debates on nationalisation, land reform and labour policies in recent months.
Making space for opposing views
“We come from a [past] where views were not tolerated, views were suppressed, so we have to open up space for people to ventilate their views in public,” Motlanthe said.
“The trick is knowing which views influence policy processes and how policy is adopted,” he told business leaders and government officials from across the continent.
South Africa is a constitutional democracy owing its allegiance to the Constitution.
“Certainly as the executive we know we have to work in a co-operative fashion with the other two arms of the state [the judiciary and and legislature] and that we are held accountable to the Constitution,” Motlanthe said.
Predictable investment environment
South Africa remains an attractive investment destination – it has a predictable investment environment, is politically stable, has a stable banking system and offers many investment opportunities, the Deputy President said.
The country also enjoys goodwill with neighbouring countries, which bodes well for investors looking to expand across Africa.
Motlanthe said the country’s response to the 2008-09 global financial crisis – which brought the government, labour, civil society and business together in a national dialogue – was even adopted as a model by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Cabinet ‘to consider amendments to labour laws’
Earlier last week, Motlanthe said the Cabinet would be considering amendments to the country’s Labour Relations Act over the coming months, as part of a range of measures to ensure that more jobs are created.
Responding to a question in Parliament from leader of the opposition Lindiwe Mazibuko on Wednesday, Motlanthe added, however, that South Africa’s current labour legislation was flexible enough to allow for competition in the labour market.
He said the improvement of the country’s tertiary colleges and training institutions, mooted in the recently released Green Paper on Post-School Further Education and Training, would accelerate efforts to build a capable labour force.
Turning to what was being done to ensure that economic growth was being led by the private sector, Motlanthe said the private sector played a major role, but that there would also be a role for government to create an enabling environment for growth.