Media release: Government-business "partnership" a red herring, says Free Market Foundation


7 June 2023

Debbi Scholtz

The FMF is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, created in 1975 by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies to work for
a non-racial, free and prosperous South Africa.
As a policy organisation it promotes sound economic policies and the principles
of good law. As a think tank it seeks and puts forward solutions to some of the country’s most pressing problems: unemployment, poverty, growth, education, health care, electricity supply, and more. The FMF was instrumental in the post-apartheid negotiations and directly influenced the Constitutional Commission to include the property
rights clause: a critical cornerstone of economic freedom.

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Government-business "partnership" a red herring, says Free Market Foundation

While the Free Market Foundation (FMF) applauds the willingness of organised business to solve the challenges inflicted upon South Africa by a malicious government, the FMF nonetheless believes a “partnership” with the same government is misguided.

Instead, business must insist that government step out of the way and cease its adoption of bad laws and policies that inhibit economic freedom and growth.

In a joint media statement by the Presidency, B4SA, and BUSA on 7 June, a “Partnership Initiative” was announced between government and some big businesses to address a selection of South Africa’s most urgent problems in the “three priority workstreams” of energy; transport and logistics; and crime and corruption.

“The true solutions to South Africa’s energy and transport and logistics problems must necessarily include the full or partial privatisation of Eskom and Transnet, alongside widespread liberalisation of these sectors. The root of corruption is the wide discretionary powers that Parliament grants the executive in legislation. This practice would need to cease,” says David Ansara, CEO of the FMF. 

None of these items are included in the apparent terms of reference of the partnership.

On the same day that government met with organised business, 6 June, the FMF and dozens of other civil groups and business chambers, met to consider the government’s draconian Employment Equity Amendment Act and its associated regulations. This latest race law represents the greatest instance of attempted racial regimentation of the economy in at least four decades.

At the workshop, organised by the trade union Solidarity, the participating organisations resolved that “a system of social engineering that gives power to the Minister of Labour and Employment to manipulate South African society on the basis of race” is to be rejected.

Organised business cannot truly believe a government engaged in this kind of hostile overregulation of the economy and society is committed, in good faith, to addressing South Africa’s economic malaise.

Martin van Staden, FMF Head of Policy, adds, “The palliative solutions proposed by the 'Partnership Initiative' do not address the cause of South Africa’s economic crisis, which is an uninhibited government seeking to implement political control over the private sector.”


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