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The “must” country that rarely delivers

Posted By Chris Reay, Thursday, 25 September 2014


For all the “must” talk in which those in government indulge, very little actually gets actioned. If there have been intentions to make it easier for small business to flourish, then they seem to fall into the category of rhetoric only. I learnt only this week of a new product line that the manufacturer has introduced into some 105 countries over that last five years, and who has stated that SA has been the most difficult, bureaucratic and plainly obstructive of all, as though the intention is to prevent the business from proceeding. And it is one which would enable the self-owned business or entrepreneur to develop and grow with little investment other than time, hard work and focus.


We are all tired of reading the usual “speeches” by officials at the interminable conferences and congresses about what we “must” do. Most of it is simply common sense that does not need a Minister to harp on about as though it were new rocket science level discovery. “We must improve our science and maths at schools” stuff as though it was news to us. All interminable talk, little action.


Now there are the new entry requirements for potential immigrants and tourists. Ministerial prerogative finds it acceptable to defy the objections from the airline industry, employers seeking specialized skills, tourists and business in general. The vulnerable falling Rand and investment rating downgrades do not encourage foreign skills currently on Dollar, Euro and Pound rates seeking a Rand equivalent in SA to get accepted. It’s too high for local industry.


The “reality” dashboard shown last month continues to see the pointers moving further into the red. Is it believable that the policy makers can be so disconnected from the reality of an economy in crisis? The “cleva people” as defined by Zuma are noticeably and more audibly astonished and frustrated by the lack of concern and action. Do they really think that the NDP is going to save the country? Please, Mr Minister of Finance, do answer the question we have been asking for the last 3 years: from whence cometh the R840 billion to do the 18 SIPs projects (in three years - your own claim) and where will the required skilled engineering resources, placed in the right structures at the right time, come from? You will also need to rescue Eskom first.


Shortly, a presentation on the most recent exercise on scarce engineering skills will be presented at Ministerial level. It has taken note of years of ineffective action and will make some radical proposals to get skills development moving properly. The SAIMechE input made it evident that candidate phase training needs to be taken seriously by both employers and the SETAs with the SAIMechE providing a facilitating role to enable the collective participation by Candidate, Employer, Mentor and Supervisor focusing on the criteria of the outcomes by which the programme is assessed. Those industries that are the likely participants in the SIPS/NDP will be asked to identify the resource needs at a job specification (not generic) level so that training in those disciplines can be actioned.


I would like to ask one question of the Minister of Higher Education. Do the subsidies that are paid to universities for the students in the Faculties of Engineering and the Built Environment get used fully for that purpose, or are they diverted to other “non-engineering” causes?

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