At the Top 500 Awards in 2018, Colin Coleman spoke about South Africa’s new ‘golden era’. Here, he outlines what it will take to fully realise it.A more efficient public sector in which South Africans get ‘more bang for the buck’ for taxes paid for public investment, perhaps even with more being done by fewer public servantsPublic sector efficiency savings releasing funds for productive investments in ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projectsModernisation of the State Owned Enterprise (SOE) sector with private sector partnerships, concessions, and strategic equity partnerships to get our roads, ports, rail and power plants to operate more efficiently, at lower cost, for corporate and individual consumersUndertaking industrial mega projects to create new job and industrial capacity to dynamise the sectorEmbracing workers as key partners to the economy, with more participation in the governance and equity of the economyCreating manufacturing hubs, with special economic zones offering labour and tax incentives to industry to invest in locally manufactured products for exportTargeted tax incentives for high impact economic sectors like tourism and the green economy, or for labour-absorbing projects.
“It will require a Herculean effort to unite South Africans on a path to renewed hope and prosperity for all. Adventurist politics or economics will be ruthlessly punished by investors and assets will reprice accordingly.
“President Ramaphosa and his team will need to navigate a global audience of investors, rating agencies and public supporters and critics, alongside a domestic audience hungry for signs of progress of transformation, growth and opportunity.
“If the President can demonstrate steady progress on this reform agenda, he will be able to steady the ship and sail into and through the 2019 national elections, emerging on the other side with calmer waters on which he can consolidate his power within the governing ANC and across the country. That is in everyone’s interest.
“On the one hand the major flashpoints of the land, mining and public sector wage issues must be managed, resting as they do on the shoulders of the apartheid legacy, along with years of mismanagement and neglect. On the other hand, growth must be stimulated, through modernisation of the economy, beyond the 2% range-bound growth experienced since 2012.
Such an economic modernisation programme will need an effective social compact between government, business and labour, with the following elements at the core of a jointly embraced agenda:
“With the right mix of fiscal consolidation and a more dynamic economy, the environment for monetary policy easing will also give rise to growth-enhancing economic conditions, with the potential to approximate a target GDP growth rate closer to 4%, thereby adding closer to 800 000 jobs per year and eating away at the current 37% unemployment rate that threatens us all.
“ We, as South Africans must all put our shoulders to the wheel to use this “New Dawn” to optimal effect and to seize the hopes for prosperity, transformation and growth.”