“A solid plan to fight crime and corruption is key to unlocking economic growth”
In anticipation of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Iain Williamson, Chief Executive Officer of Old Mutual, has emphasised the urgent need for President Ramaphosa to address the issue of crime and corruption in South Africa, citing these challenges as critical impediments to the country’s economic growth.
“We hope that President Ramaphosa presents a solid plan to fight crime and corruption,” says Williamson. “These issues pose significant risks to South Africa’s ability to create jobs, accelerate economic growth and achieve its national development goals”.
Crime, alongside logistical challenges within our rail system to our ports, and the persistent energy crisis, presents a formidable barrier to the country’s economic progress.
“These challenges have negative multiplier effects, hindering investment, job creation, and overall economic stability growth and stability”, says Williamson.
Williamson recognises the critical role that industries like tourism could play in further propelling economic growth “if these issues were under control”. “The potential for increased international visitor numbers, an invigorated domestic tourism sector and business expansion opportunities is massive, but for this to come to fruition, crime and corruption must be effectively dealt with”, says Williamson.
“If we get this right, it will help instil and grow confidence in the country’s future, attract investments, and stimulate the much-needed economic activity,” says Williamson.
Several positives are already in place for SA to take advantage of in terms of investor interest in the country and while many investors remain optimistic about South Africa’s prospects, tangible progress is essential before we can see further investment flow in.
“Many investors have Emerging Market – specific mandates to invest in South Africa and those investors are ready to allocate funds to the country, provided we navigate through these challenges effectively”.
Furthermore, reflecting on discussions at the recently held World Economic Forum, Williamson expresses optimism about the eagerness and determination between businesses and governments in addressing pressing issues.
“There was a definite positive and encouraging sentiment towards South Africa from the business community in terms of readiness to align efforts through public-private partnerships to tackle energy, logistics, and crime with a view to achieving the positive multiplier effect towards economic activity, confidence, and sentiment,” states Williamson.
“Failure to present a comprehensive plan to address crime and other key risks could lead investors to withdraw their support,” warns Williamson, adding that “we cannot afford to lose the international goodwill that we currently have due to lack of progress”.
With the State of the Nation Address approaching, Williamson says “tangible outcomes are urgently needed”.
“This year must be the year for delivery rather than mere dialogue. We need to see real progress on the ground, benefiting citizens and businesses alike. Let us make this year one where we witness meaningful change. The time for action is now”.
At the consumer market level, Williamson acknowledges the intensified pressure on the consumer saying that the rising cost of living and high cost of capital remain as massive headwinds for the consumer and that relief from these awaits consumers should the government effectively deal with the issue crime and corruption, along with the energy and logistics crises.
Williamson has expressed confidence in the collective determination of business and government sectors to address challenges and accelerate positive change. “Let us strive to turn a new page in 2024, moving South Africa in the right direction,” Williamson concludes.