The implementation of the transformation has elicited mixed sentiments. But one of the most intriguing observations regarding is that it is has turned to be an obstacle to investment. It is viewed as a bureaucratic hurdle that is only worsening the difficulty of doing business in South Africa.
But is that not alarmist?
First of all, it has to be acknowledged that the ultimate objective of the transformation agenda is levelling the economic playing field. And ideally all economic actors should subscribe to it. However, from sentiments what Transform SA has gathered from businesses drawn from different sectors in conferences it the process of compliance, which is the dti’s (Department of Trade and Industry) way of ensuring that everyone stays in tune, is viewed as “punitive”.
In reality what has emerged is a black middle class who can afford a few trappings that define success, but the majority are still stuck in the fringes disillusioned. And it is clear that the country’s transformation path is not headed towards addressing the yawning gap between the so-called black middle class and the shack dwelling masses. In fact, in front there lies a blind alley.
Given this lopsidedness, Dr Robin Woolley, Executive Director of Transcend Corporate Advisors, advocates for the revision of the transformation agenda.
He says: “In an environment where we have a worsening state of inequality, it is vital for the country to revise its efforts and focus wholeheartedly on promoting social inclusivity, in an attempt to deal effectively with varying expectations in South Africa.
“However, it is when we translate this national compact into a business context that difficulties emerge. We need to simultaneously promote and stimulate economic growth and at the same time promote inclusivity if we are to emerge as a country that effectively serves all its citizens.”
Nonetheless, Woolley believes for this approach to work the country needs influential leadership. “Strong leadership at business, labour and government levels is essential in the quest for sustainable transformation,” he says.