SOUTH Africa needs to be inspired by leadership to lift its gaze above the problems that asphyxiate the country, and focus on the solutions to solve the problems and those solutions should not be ideologies, but practical ones.
This was said by Safika Holdings chairman and former ANC national executive committee member, Saki Macozoma, during the inaugural Black Management Forum annual gala dinner at the Queens Casino and Hotel on Wednesday evening.
Safika Holdings is an investment house with interests in commodity marketing, agriculture and financial services, mining and exploration, education and aerospace, among many others.
“You have to lift your eyes above the problems that threaten to drown us to where the world is, where it is going and what that means to you. We have to focus on the solutions, which should not be ideologies and -isms,” Macozoma said.
He said every situation had to produce a leader who would respond to it. The macro issues facing the country had an impact on the economy and society.
Macozoma said unemployment, recently reported at 27.1%, would not improve, but get worse.
“What is the implication of artificial intelligence on job creation? There will be an ability to make gadgets think, have a memory and perhaps emotions. “Cars will drive themselves and people who are paid to drive, will lose their jobs,” Macozoma said.
Education and training were on shifting sands.
“The world is changing in a manner we should be wary of. Today’s teachers are not equipped to understand these things. It’s not their fault, they have to be trained to understand when the knowledge is shifting.”
Macozoma said it was wrong to stand up and say the ocean economy was the future, yet there was no swimming pool in town for children to learn how to swim.
“The state of our education is a national crisis. We have watched the high school system go down and now we are watching universities on a downward spiral.
Macozoma said the country had a crisis of faith in God and towards each other. All the things making people social beings were evaporating, with people looking for instant solutions, including using Doom for healing, eating snakes and drinking petrol.
“The first failure of the leadership is not making time to analyse and learn. The political or economic idea that we can solve unemployment with 19th-century industrialisation, won’t work,” he said. Leadership had to think ahead and have the intellectual capacity to solve problems, create platforms for engagement and encourage people to make the right decisions.
“Leadership must help build appropriate institutions. The biggest problem with black people is that they don’t build, but instead kill institutions. We must build facilities for students to enjoy themselves because if we don’t, there are shebeens and sex,” he said.
In what might be seen as a swipe at education MEC Mandla Makupula, he said money was returned to National Treasury from his department as it was unused, “but the person responsible keeps his job because he is a comrade”.
Loser mentality had to be dropped.
He said all the “nonsense” about a woman president would not happen if women were empowered. Factionalism had to be thrown out, as it hindered progress, while political stability was needed. “There was Queendustria here and many of these industries were exploitative. The wage structure of Queendustria can’t be the same as that of Coega. We are talking with unions to ensure the limitations are waived in such a way that people can get jobs,” Macozoma said.