Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) is concerned about the state of the economy. Another downgrade will put severe strain on the economy, due to reduced investor confidence and an increase in borrowing costs, said Cas Coovadia, CEO of Busa, at the Agbiz congress.

“The South African economy is undergoing serious challenges. We are also worried about the recent downgrades and the strike in the platinum sector, followed by the metal workers’ strike. Strikes contribute to the erosion of confidence in the South African economy. The business sector needs appropriate policies and consistency in the application thereof. Policies must protect investment and they must emphasise the protection of property,” Coovadia said.

He pointed out that Busa believes that business and government need to engage on the difficult issues inhibiting economic growth and investment, namely policy certainty and appropriateness; skills and education; inequality; service delivery, as well as a number of other issues. This engagement must take place with a national interest agenda on the table.

“Busa is also concerned about the deterioration of property rights in South Africa. The current land reform proposals could inhibit investment. Some areas of the labour law also constitute critical contributing factors to the state of the economy. Collective bargaining that ignores the different dynamics of large and small businesses, as well as the refusal to conduct secret ballots on strikes, comes to mind.

“The bottom line is that government, labour and business must engage in a national interest agenda by stepping out of our comfort zones, instead of giving preference to our own agendas. Such engagement must deal with the long-term sustainability of South Africa and must factor in compromises that are in the national interest,” Coovadia said.