MESSAGE FROM THE CONVENOR - Sipho Mbele
“Gloom and despondency has never defeated adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our strength as a people is not tested during the best times. As we said before, we should never become despondent because the weather is bad, nor should we turn triumphalist because the sun shines” – Thabo Mbeki,
In the past weeks, a dark cloud overshadowed our country, we had unrest. The business community was highly affected, many families lost their loved ones, people lost their jobs due to the unrest, there was burning of malls and businesses, the logistics industry was affected due to the unrest and we saw the closure of the key corridor between Gauteng, Free State and KZN.
Amidst the many challenges of the coronavirus, economic data reports have been released that indicate that the sales of commodities and minerals have increased due also to the increased global demand amid signs of economic recovery. The trade surplus increased to about 52.77 billion Rand earlier this year. In addition, exports increased by 28,9 percent on a month on month basis.
This good news is a further inspiration to efforts of the Progressive Business Forum (PBF) in its invitation to join its programme of action at a time when resolve is needed most and when confidence is the means to ensure inclusive growth.
Youth Day event:
In the last newsletter, we mentioned the upcoming webinar on 29 June, to commemorate Youth Day. The newsletter went to print before the event.
In recognition of the significant and crucial role of the Youth of our country the PBF hosted a Youth event in partnership with Mail and Guardian, entitled – “Youth participation in the Economy”.
It was a highly successful engagement with the significant attendance reflecting the importance and urgency of Youth issues in our country and proving an inspiration for further action.
We were privileged to have as speakers at this event:
Cde Paul Mashatile – Treasurer-General of the ANC;
Mr Hoosain Karjieker, CEO of Mail and Guardian;
Ms Kedibone Tsiloane; BBCBE Youth Secretary-General;
Ms Tlangi Mogale ANCYL, National Youth Task team (NYTT);
Mr Thobela Maponya – Head of Youth – the Black Business Council (BBC);
Mr Classi Tebogo Kgopa, National Young Professional chairperson, Black Management Forum (BMF).
On 27 June2021, the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, addressed the nation on South Africa’s response to the Corona Virus pandemic. Among others, President Ramaphosa announced major steps to curb and reduce the spread of Covid. Several provinces in South Africa have experienced the Delta variant of the virus, particularly Gauteng, which has become the epicenter of the pandemic. On recommendation of the National Coronavirus Command Council, the Cabinet decided that the country should move to adjusted alert level 4, which would remain in effect for 14 days.
The President re-iterated that the tried and tested public health measures that have been in place remain our best chance at fighting this pandemic. We must always wear a mask in public, regularly wash or sanitise our hands and always keep a safe distance from others. Unless it is necessary, please remain at home.
The President addressed the nation again on 11 July saying, that infections remain extremely high and that with the fast-spreading Delta variant, we are experiencing a third wave that is more severe than the first and second waves. He pointed to the fact that for the previous two weeks, the country had consistently recorded an average of nearly 20,000 daily new cases and that in the last two weeks over 4,200 South Africans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Our health system countrywide remains under pressure, the President added. As a result the Cabinet after consultation with the provinces has decided to maintain the country at Adjusted Alert Level 4 for another 14 days.
In the same address, the President said in the past few days, we have seen sporadic but increasingly violent protests in some parts of the country as a result of which key infrastructure like national roads have been affected, slowing down the transportation of goods and services that keep our economy running. Our Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to freely express themselves and to engage in peaceful protest. While there are those who may be hurt and angry at this moment, there can never be any justification for such violent, destructive and disruptive actions. He added: Those who are involved in acts of violence will be arrested and prosecuted. Those found guilty of breaking the lockdown regulations will receive the stipulated penalty. This will be done without fear or favour. (See the full speech by the President on the link: https://www.gov.za/speeches/president-cyril-ramaphosa-progress-national-effort-contain-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-1
During the month of July we celebrated Mandela Day on 18th July 2021, it is the day “created to inspire people to embrace the values of democracy and contribute towards the ideals of ensuring a just and fair society” *. In practical terms, it is day for everyone to volunteer to perform service to their community and each other, to honor the 67 years of selfless work of former President Mandela in pursuit of social justice and equality. It is a day indeed that recognizes the power in each of us to make a difference to the lives of everyone, promoting in our own way, the eradication of poverty, social cohesion and peace and reconciliation.
In a very real sense, the Mandela Day provides the link and inspiration for our actions both in respect of Youth Day and of meeting the challenge of the coronavirus. Reminding us of the urgency of being proactive in our actions, are the words of Nelson Mandela himself: “What counts is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.
Mandela Day inspires us to act simultaneously in the interest of the Youth of South Africa, of the poor, of the vulnerable, of the sick, of the aged and of each and every one around us. It is a day for everyone to act for the benefit of each other. I urge everyone to heed this call of action, however small that action may be, you can make a difference. Raising awareness of the need to be safe amid this third wave of coronavirus or raising awareness of the importance of the youth of our country, all are actions that are important and substantial.
As readers are aware, the PBF has embarked on a series of engagements with various foreign Missions based in South Africa, to explore and promote enhanced business opportunities between the PBF subscribers and the businesses of those represented countries.
The first such virtual engagement took place on 13 July with the Kenya High Commission in Pretoria, entitled - “South Africa/Kenya – Growing and Promoting Business” and which saw the participation of Cde Paul Mashatile, the South African High Commissioner to Kenya, the Kenyan High Commissioner to South Africa and Kenyan business representatives engaging with PBF subscribers on potential business opportunities of mutual interest.
Engagements with other Missions for virtual webinars, are well underway and we will keep subscribers informed as these events are finalized.
As we do so, we would invite you to be in touch with us, confident that together we can make a difference by our actions.
We look forward to your ongoing active participation in the programmes of the PBF.