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Opinionista

What has happened nine months after the ‘CEO pledge’? Turns out, a lot

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Steuart Pennington manages www.sagoodnews.co.za, mentors 12 young development journalists and assists in the upliftment of 16 under-resourced schools in the Natal Midlands.

Here is the progress made since business and the government set up a partnership nine months ago to address energy, transport and logistics and crime and corruption.

‘The remarkable progress made in the partnership between government and business over the last nine months shows just how much we can get done when we work together,” says President Cyril Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter on 11 March.

Really?

So what has been achieved? I spoke to Mxolisi Mgojo, previous CEO of Exxaro and one of the CEO sponsors of Business for South Africa’s (B4SA’s) Transport and Logistics Focal Area which works closely with the government and Transnet within the National Logistics Crisis Committee (NLCC) to address the country’s logistics challenges. 

Business and the government set up this partnership nine months ago to address three key economic challenges: energy, transport and logistics and crime and corruption. More than 130 CEOs of the country’s leading companies have pledged their support.

  • Since November 2023, load shedding is 61% lower than the same period a year ago;
  • Electricity generation capacity from different sources has increased by up to 10,600MW, which will enable a significant reduction in the severity of load shedding by the end of this year;
  • Under the leadership of its new group CEO, Eskom is finalising an agreement with business to deploy additional independent skilled experts to support the utility;
  • Transnet has achieved a 45% reduction in vessels anchored outside the Port of Durban and a 36% reduction in the waiting time for container vessels to anchor;
  • There has been a 65% reduction in criminal incidents on the Northern Corridor, reducing the number of trains cancelled;
  • Support has also been provided to modernise the 10111 helpline, with a pilot project initiated at the main call centre in Midrand, and the establishment with the Hawks of a forensics analysis centre;
  • The Investigating Directorate is being established as a permanent entity, including a dedicated forensics laboratory. A key focus of the partnership is to secure South Africa’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force grey list by at least June 2025;
  • Transnet is now forecasting volumes of greater than 151 million tonnes for the 2023/24 financial year, rather than the 142 million outlined in October;
  • Two new executives, Michelle Phillips and Russell Baatjies, were recently confirmed as the permanent CEOs of Transnet and Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) respectively, bringing stability and focused direction to the SOE; and
  • Private sector technical expertise has been engaged and these experts have been seconded to work within Transnet and Eskom to provide critical support to senior executives.

Mxolisi concludes that in the NLCC there are five priorities:

  • Advancing the Economic Regulation of Transport Bill to implementation. I am optimistic that President Ramaphosa will sign off soon on the legislation passed by Parliament on 29 February;
  • Improving security on key corridors transporting coal and chrome;
  • Implementing the Freight Logistics Roadmap, which includes plans for third-party access to the rail network and the splitting of TFR into the Transnet Rail Infrastructure Manager and the Transnet Freight Rail Operating Company;
  • Expediting the Private Sector Participation Framework across ports and rail; and
  • Addressing the remaining procurement issues, relating largely to critical spares.

Mxolisi stressed that the continued poor operational performance and inefficiencies at Transnet continued to cost the economy R1-billion a day, which he said underlined the urgency of both the recovery plan and the associated reforms. 

Trust – a process of fair exchange

Two things happen when parties/people “build relationships”. The first is the goals and success measures they set for themselves, their achievements. Clearly, observers, the media and interested parties will measure success based on these outcomes only. 

The second and more important issue is the relationship dynamic, the ability of the parties to get to know each other, to understand each other, to converse with each other, to share with each other, to make concessions, in a manner that results in a fair exchange where both parties have equal skin in the game. This is how trust develops, this is how futures are built. Generally, observers don’t measure this.

Hopefully the list of achievements as listed above will continue to grow, but more profoundly the government and the private sector, with the involvement of civil society, will all feel that their skin in the game is understood and respected and that there is a growing process of genuine fair exchange.  

It’s early days, but hopeful. I hope to report regularly on progress in all three areas – transport and logistics, crime and corruption and energy supply. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Nic Tsangarakis says:

    Fantastic list of impressive achievements as a result of business / government partnership and collaboration. This is a blueprint for the future. Thanks Steuart.

    • Iam Fedup says:

      Nic, SA would be better off if businesses spent all their energy and resources by lancing the boil first. No matter what the pundits say, the wounds of SA will continue to fester if the ANC and its crooked allies continue to govern.

  • Niek Joubert says:

    Seems selective statistics, especially w.r.t Eskom and Transnet

  • Rob Fisher says:

    These would all appear to relate to Gauteng / Durban transport.
    I wonder what the figures for the Western Cape look like? Oranges and grapes to be exported.

  • Susan Scott says:

    …’their skin in the game is understood and respected…’ – these words give me hope. I look forward to updates, thank you.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    This story bodes well for a potential ANC/DA coalition as we come to the final straight in the race! Not ideal but better than the alternative!

  • Bruce Danckwerts says:

    You talk about Trust. What would build trust, not only between the Private Sector and Government on these various joint committees, but between those committees and the public at large would be if all minutes of these meetings were posted on line, and also a monthly statement of Income and Expenditure for Transnet, ESKOM and the Crime initiatives. The details of all tenders awarded to suppliers should also be available in the public domain. These are all public services and as such, all their finances and management decisions should be public. Trust between the public and politicians is at an all time low, not just in South Africa, but globally. Using the Internet to increase the transparency of all government departments and public utilities would go a long way to restoring this Trust. Bruce Danckwerts, CHOMA, Zambia

  • Iam Fedup says:

    How many times do the words “hope” and “hopefully” appear in this article? While I’m a great admirer of Mr Pennington and his contribution to society, Ramaphosa et al are simply desperate to get votes in order to continue plundering and raping our country. So forgive my cynicism at the isolated examples, numerous as they appear to be, of things going right. Children are dying today in accidents, poisoning, diseases, murders, and the majority of our population is suffering from poverty and hunger. We must do nothing to give the fools in the ANC/EFF/MK an opportunity to boast about results which, after all, we’re initiated by businesses, not politicians.

  • B M says:

    Lets cheer for some cautious optimism. Yes, one swallow does not make a summer. But, every step in the right direction encourages and builds confidence, that things can and will improve. Do the right thing so often that it becomes the norm. A large part of why SA is where it is right now is because the wrong/expedient/corrupt thing was done over and over again. The change, we must do the right thing over and over and over again.

    To delay doing the right thing, because it helps your enemy is short-sighted, destructive, and common. Given the choice between getting R100 if your enemy also gets R50, or getting nothing, most people (unfortunately) will rather get nothing. Silly race to the bottom.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    Highly selective reporting??

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