Media release

Government's response to the Sunday Times article – Stand up and fight back, says Spicer

22 August 2011

22 August 2011

Michael Spicer has been at the helm of Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), for seven years. He has had ample time to make a meaningful contribution to the transformation of business in South Africa.  However, business in South Africa still remains largely fractured and divided along racial lines, with black business largely excluded and marginalised.

That he chooses to speak only now at the end of his tenure is slightly disingenuous and smacks of opportunism.  It is also unfortunate that he unfairly lambasts Government for alleged failings, while conveniently forgetting about the clear failings of business to transform itself. 

Though his term as the head of BLSA is ending, Michael Spicer remains Vice President at Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).  Given his clear disdain for a democratically elected government and his failure to transform business the question must be asked, can the country afford more of his failing leadership?

He says that, “Government is using the nationalisation debate to shift the blame for its own very poor performance in most of the mining areas”.  Government’s position on nationalisation has been very clear from the start and has never shifted.  President Jacob Zuma and a host of senior government leaders have said repeatedly that nationalisation is not the policy of Government.

He makes sweeping generalisations on the performance of Government, which cannot be left unchallenged.  Government has worked hard at improving access and the quality of education and healthcare for all its citizens.  Where Government has failed, we have acknowledged as much and worked at finding sustainable long-term solutions.

Unwarranted attacks on Government are counter-productive and do not serve the interests of business or our people.  What is needed is sound leadership, which focuses on creating jobs and getting business to create space for new budding entrepreneurs to enter the labour market.  

Government is open to constructive criticism on its workings, but his assertion that, “the difficulty business faces now is that there is no such thing as Government”, is cheap politicking of the lowest order.   South Africans voted this Government overwhelmingly into power in our last national elections.  Government continues to provide strategic leadership in all spheres of society and will never shirk its responsibilities of providing a better life for all.

We wish Michael Spicer well on his future endeavours as he prepares to relinquish the reins at BLSA.  Government looks forward to engaging in meaningful dialogue with his successor on moving business forward.  Transformation of the business sector needs to be accelerated so that all South Africans can share in the wealth of our country.

Neo Momodu
Chief Director Media Engagement (GCIS)

Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)

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