EDITOR'S NOTE

Time for a meaningful change

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Welcome to another edition of South Africa’s favourite business monthly, as we settle into the Ramaphosa era, with the changing of the guard in many ministries giving business the hope of a better relationship with the government and economic development, which was strained under the previous regime.

Our new President, by bringing in some of the all-star Ministers from the past like Pravin Gordhan, Nhlanhla Nene, Jeff Radebe and Naledi Pandor into key positions, has certainly created a fresh buzz in the air, especially in the renewable energy sector, which has been in stalemate over the non-signing of the next round of the renewable energy programme.

Thankfully, the new Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe is pushing the process along once again, albeit with some resistance from the mining trade unions. I think it is shortsighted and anti-environmental to try to stop the roll-out of more renewable energy (RE). I understand that the unions are trying to save jobs in the coal sector, which would be affected if more RE appears on the grid.

But that would be the only reason. In the long term, this is inevitable and the unions should rather adapt and promote the re-skilling of miners to do work in the flourishing renewable energy sector. So, instead of losing thousands of jobs, rather re-direct some of the talent into new, emerging industries.

Anybody who has driven through Gauteng recently will know that the smog from coal-fired power stations is one of the main pollutants of the air, with a negative effect on the climate, food security and people’s health.

What I find telling is when I went to watch the Proteas play the Aussies at Newlands Cricket Ground, one of the advertisers was from Australia. And the electronic billboard at the side of the field said something like, ‘Coal is our future in Australia’—which was presumably sponsored by the Australian mining authority. One thinks that Australia is an advanced country, but in terms of outlook, they are often in the dark ages.

They are also grappling with environmental issues and a fine balancing act between big business and Mother Nature. And their Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, offering South African farmers a fast-track visa is below the belt, trying to pinch vital skills in a time when we need to hold onto the talent, while developing an inclusive culture and economy.

This ties in with the whole land issue, which has arguably been used as a political tool ahead of the next general election. But it does raise important points that need to be discussed and debated, as South Africa’s land legacy is fraught with some people taking more than they are entitled to, which is the catalyst for discontentment, according to Thuli Madonsela..

This is the time for true nation-building and a meaningful change for the men and women on the street, and not for a PR campaign.

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