The week that South Africa changed gear

It is the very basic tenet on which the society is founded and on which the Constitution is based: ubuntu. I am because you are. And what can I be if you have no food, no proper roof over your head, if you have to go to school under a tree or are denied basic health care.

This week the framework was created for us to work together rather than against each other. To put our brothers and sisters’ well being before our own enrichment and to work together for a better future for all.

We desperately need a social compact in South Africa. The country has taken a major step in the right direction and the positive outcomes will start to take shape as a result.

Deputy President Motlanthe said: “If we are to be competitive we must have in place sound economic policies; cultivate a favourable legal and business environment; roll out socio-economic infrastructure; constantly improve our trade and industrial policies; and lower the cost of doing business.”

That is what being competitive entails. There is no place for short-cuts. No place for posturing and no time to play games.

The country’s survival is at stake.

The Goldman Sachs report reminded us of the many achievements we can be proud of in the first 20 years: tripling of GDP, more than halving inflation,  16-fold increase in gold reserves, six-fold increase in welfare payments, dramatic rise in the middle-class, eight-fold increase in tax collection and a six-fold increase in the number of tax payers.

These are remarkable achievements.

But the red lights flash on unemployment – youth in particular – inequality on racial lines, a 6.5% budget deficit and the shrinkage in the mining and manufacturing sectors.

The good news is that it can all be fixed with a collective effort to improve productivity, GDP growth and foreign direct investment.

We did it before and we can do it again.

The tide has been going out for much of the past 20 years. This week it started coming in.

Read more about the inaugural South African Competitiveness Forum: