Since December last year South Africa has experienced some of the most challenging political, social and economic upheavals since the advent of democracy. Ongoing, intense power struggles within the ruling party and, sadly, within the Cabinet exacerbate economic uncertainty and social instability and affect how South Africa is viewed by the outside world. More importantly though is that South Africans have begun to doubt themselves and our ability to grow together to make South Africa a truly prosperous country. We require stability, certainty and intense focus and will to grow the economy and create prosperity; we all look to our political leaders for inspirational leadership

Today the AHI observed the Minister of Finance display just that kind of visionary leadership and the highest levels of integrity.

The AHI sincerely backs the Minister’s objective to pursue inclusive economic growth and social transformation above all else to ensure sustainability and a peaceful society. The AHI vision, “Together we create sustainable prosperity”, commits our members to play a partnership role with government and civil society to achieve this goal. The AHI is committed help create a future that will have far less inequality than we currently have.

Corruption is one of our most insidious and devastating ills, affecting us all, but tantamount to theft from the poor who depend on government spending for health and wellbeing. This year the AHI signed an MOU with the Ethics Institute and we encourage all our members to manage their businesses in an ethical way. Corruption needs to be systematically rooted out by leaders and followers alike, therefore AHI applauds the minister for his statements.

The AHI is however not sufficiently satisfied with the proposed measures to promote small-, medium- and micro-enterprise development. Far more tangible reform must happen to create the conducive environment SMMEs need to grow and develop unhindered as a contributor to job-creation and economic growth. A large percentage of our membership represents the SMME sector. In this regard the AHI implores the Department of Small Business Development to join the AHI and similar organisations to facilitate the entry and success of SMMEs in the market. Hitherto, despite sincere efforts by the Department under the leadership of Minister Lindiwe Zulu and DG Prof Edith Vries, too little had been done to ensure growth and job creation.

Furthermore the AHI is deeply concerned about the state of municipalities. Minister Gordhan while still Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs initiated the Back to Basics project. We will study the Municipality Money initiative and comment once more detail is available.

AHI also welcomes the new Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts for all 257 municipalities today. We will continue to request meetings to engage the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, though our approaches have thus far been rebuffed. AHI will simply not give up since it is up to us to make our agreement with Cogta work. We will meanwhile encourage our members to continue to engage the municipalities in the towns and cities they are located.

Earlier this year the AHI board decided to develop a municipal index to measure service delivery. Discussions are well underway to develop this in conjunction with the University of Stellenbosch Business School’s Good Governance Forum together with some of our corporate partners. AHI wants to make a constructive contribution to understanding the scale and specificity of the problems South Africans still face that local and provincial governments should be addressing.

The AHI urges the President, Minister of Finance and the entire Cabinet to align their efforts rather than work against each other. All of our leaders need to model themselves as exemplary and inspirational especially to the youth of our country, who have high expectations that their generation will surpass the achievements of their parents’. AHI therefore welcomes announcements on measures to address the financial issues around the Fees Must Fall Movement, mentorship and internships for young people. Their talents must be unlocked to stem frustration and contribute to nation building.

We take note that BUSA President Jabu Mabuza has been singled out for the role BUSA plays. The AHI is a proud member of BUSA. Much more can and should be done to foster a spirit of cohesiveness to restore the trust in our institutions and leaders we as a nation have sadly lost. Fragmentation among the organised business fraternity does not serve the country’s interests. AHI is committed to work together with all of our counterparts so that business ultimately can speak with one voice to propel us into a thriving future.