President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on business to be patriotic and procure goods and services locally in a bid to boost the ailing economy.
Ramaphosa, delivering the keynote address at the Presidential Jobs Summit at Gallagher Estate in Midrand on Thursday, said companies that bought locally produced goods would be incentivised and that buying local was one of the salient points the social partners had agreed on, and which a number major corporates had already committed to doing.
“Put South Africa first. In a special way and not in an arrogant way,” seemingly avoiding the association of the phrase commonly used by US President Donald Trump.
“As part of this agreement, a number of companies have made specific commitments to local procurement initiatives as part of their operational strategies.
"These include companies such as Adcock Ingram, AngloGold Ashanti, Clientele, Coca-Cola SA, Edcon, First Rand, Lixil, Mondi, Nandos, Nestlé, AB InBev, Sappi, Sasol, Standard Bank and Tsogo Sun.
"They will be the first to be invited to join a “Buy SA Circle”, which recognises companies that are leaders in buying local and have demonstrated in practice their commitment to supporting South African enterprise,” he said.
Ramaphosa said social partners would emerge from the gathering with a framework agreement and some of the matters had already been agreed upon such as avoidance of further job losses.
The president said there was consensus that retrenchments should be avoided at all costs, even if executive salaries are slashed to save jobs.
Ramaphosa said the country would also be embarking on an export drive that prioritises manufactured and processed goods, and ensures that full employment benefit is derived from mining and agriculture.
“We will seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets.
“Social partners have agreed to unblock impediments to expanding exports – such as inefficiencies at ports and poor knowledge of potential markets – and to ensure greater support to companies seeking export opportunities,” he said.
He also pointed out that through the framework agreement, government will be mobilising finance focused on building the country’s manufacturing capacity.
The financial sector, as part of its transformation code, will invest R100 billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises
"Government will work with the financial sector to develop facilities for financing at preferential rates and extended repayment terms.
"The social partners have agreed on strategic interventions in economic sectors that have great potential for growth and even more potential for employment creation.
“The framework agreement makes provision for monitoring mechanisms – including a Presidential Jobs Committee, what I have dubbed the presidential jobs brains trust, to ensure effective implementation of the measures to which we have agreed.
"It acknowledges that there are several areas that require further work and refinement, and social partners have agreed to devote more time for discussion to reach consensus on these,” Ramaphosa said.
Earlier in the event, the president of the South African Youth Council, Thulani Tshefuta, representing a community social partner, highlighted that race played an integral part (according to a Statistics SA report) in determining who gets employed and who did not.
Tshefuta also pointed out that various fines imposed on companies for uncompetitive conduct should not be directed to state fiscus but rather be ploughed back into breaking monopolies in their sectors by stimulating the economy.