CEO of the Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Finally, some good news about Telkom. Yes you read that correctly.
The state-affiliated telecoms operator reports significant progress in combating vandalism of its cell phone towers and other property, with over 3000 suspects arrested over the past six years. In collaboration with police and the National Prosecuting Authority, Telkom is turning the tide against highly-organised syndicates that continue to wreak havoc by stealing critical infrastructure underpinning the economy. Not only have suspects been arrested, they are being successfully prosecuted and sentenced, providing some much-needed relief to those working behind-the-scenes to combat the cable-theft scourge.
This success cannot be overstated. Crime and deteriorating infrastructure were at the top of the list – along with load shedding – of obstacles to business growth is the most recent Cape Chamber business survey. Cable-theft goes way beyond Telkom; The Economic Sabotage of Critical Infrastructure (ESCI) Forum, a joint working group between Telkom, Eskom, Prasa and Transnet, estimates a loss off R187bn to the economy, a staggering sum that highlights why the public should celebrate every small victory in what will surely be a long battle against this criminal endeavour.
Closer to home we’ve seen how poor infrastructure destroys jobs and livelihoods, both directly and indirectly. The dip in exports caused by ailing Port infrastructure underscores the need to stop the rot. If we can push back against Telkom syndicates we can surely also push back against those undermining other SOEs, and we hope this imperative translates into the necessary budgetary allocation next month when our Finance Minister reaches into the state coffers.
Without combating crime and supporting business growth there will not be much left in the coffers to dish out.