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Media Statement by President Jacob Zuma at the Conclusion of the Meeting of the Presidential CEO Initiative

Today I convened a meeting of the Presidential CEO Initiative, for a report back on work that has been done by business, government with the support of labour, to build confidence in the economy and reignite growth.

At a meeting with business in February this year I tasked the Finance Minister, Mr Pravin Gordhan as well as the Chairman of Telkom and Business Unity SA President, Mr Jabu Mabuza to lead the initiative. We met again in May this year to receive feedback.

The intended outcome is to build confidence in the economy and reignite growth ensuring that it is also inclusive and to help the country avert a downgrade in the country’s sovereign credit rating.

The meeting was attended by CEOs of major companies, representatives of the Black Business Council, Business Unity SA, COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU.

The Presidential CEO Initiative works through four work streams led by Minister Gordhan and Mr Mabuza, which presented reports.

These are the following;

  • An Investment work stream.
  • A small enterprise development work stream.
  • A Youth Employment work stream.

A work stream addressing issues related to the country’s sovereign credit rating.

The progress thus far includes, among others, the following;

A youth employment programme that will aim to place one million youth in  paid internships in the private sector, over a three year period with the cost to be borne by the private sector and  supported by a negotiated package of government incentives.

Consultative processes among relevant stakeholders in government, labour, business and civil society will begin as soon as possible and further details will be announced in this regard.

A South Africa SME Fund that will make equity investments in small enterprises with growth potential has been established.  The Fund has been established, a Board of Directors appointed and thus far the private sector has contributed almost R1, 5 billion rand.

The Presidential CEO Initiative will address the proposal raised by the Black Business Council for black fund managers to be involved in the management of the fund.

In line with the Government’s Nine Point Plan, work has been done to analyse 8 Economic sectors and identify areas for new investment and growth.

The following areas have been prioritised for further work and project development.  In particular business is working to partner with Government through the establishment of an Agricultural Growth Fund, offer capacity to support South Africa’s tourism marketing work, work with Government to increase the numbers of nurses trained, and work to revitalise declining industrial areas and specifically address the Vaal Triangle.

With regard to a potential ratings downgrade, the private sector together with labour and government has met with investors and the ratings agencies in a Team SA initiative that has built confidence and ensured a positive outcome to the June ratings review.

This partnership sees its work as initiating activities that are intended to foster inclusive growth through joint activities by all social partners.

This will be ongoing work involving business, labour and government.

We are encouraged by the work done thus far. It is encouraging that we are working together in this manner, as business, government and labour.

It is an important partnership which augurs well for the economy of our country and well-being of our people.

We urge all sectors of society to also support this initiative and ensure that together, we focus on initiatives that will boost confidence in our country and the economy and which will boost economic growth and job creation.

The meeting appeals to all in our country to refrain from making public utterances that promote a negative narrative about the country which undermine our collective drive to reignite economic growth and jeopardise job creation.

I thank you.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.