10X founder Steven Nathan is the BizNews regular Tuesday co-host on the Power Hour with the ex-fund manager upbeat about South Africa’s prospects going forward after the chaotic events that unfolded last week. Nathan and BizNews founder Alec Hogg talk about rebuilding the economy after the national disaster, which will fuel further unemployment and inequality in an already unequal society. Nathan suggests that entrepreneurs will play a key part in restoring and creating jobs in order for the economy to get back on its feet. – Justin Rowe-Roberts
Steven Nathan on the events that unfolded last week:
A week is a long time in our lives in South Africa. A week ago we were talking about this and if you recall I was asking what is the catalyst – was it politically motivated or is it just really opportunistic people who are unhappy and there was an opportunity there for them to gain something without a sinister political force at play. What we’ve learnt is that there has been a political force at hand here, there was some form of insurrection and I think the good part about that is it seems as if it has failed quite dismally.
The faction fighting within the ANC, for a long time we’ve been saying where does the balance of power lie, does it lie within the Zuma-aligned faction or does it lie within the Ramaphosa (reformist) camp. I think that this is another data point, hopefully, that tells us the Zuma faction is quite weak and that they didn’t get a lot of support in their efforts to destabilise the government, the country, the infrastructure. I think that’s a positive.
Another positive is that hopefully all South Africans have woken up, or are more aware and more in-tuned into the challenges that a large part of South Africans experience and feel. We can all hopefully put our heads together and address problems that we know that have been there. It’s not as if the problems are new but I think there was complacency from all levels – from government down to business down to communities, we’ve all got our own stuff to worry about. Hopefully some good will come out of that and we are seeing so many of these amazing stories of communities protecting themselves.
On the noble work done by the Taxi industry to help restore law and order:
It’s a great showcase for us all to understand the benefits of empowering people and bringing people into the formal economy giving them a meaningful stake in South Africa. We always talk about to trying to get a more inclusive economy and trying to get more people to participate in all levels of the economy – in an ownership level, in an employment level and the taxi industry is a wonderful example of that. The taxi industry has seen an opportunity with government’s lack of ability to provide a meaningful transport system. The taxi industry has stepped up and they do an incredible job benefitting so many South Africans. They have a lot at stake within the industry, which is fantastic to see.
On international investors concerns amid the turmoil:
It’s always been a tricky one. It’s quire a hard one and I guess it’s always your reference point, I don’t think we’ve done ourselves a lot of favours in the last 10 years at least. It’s quite interesting, in 1999 I went to Australia when I was a banking analyst with Deutsche Bank and funnily enough Kokkie Kooyman and Piet Viljoen were with me. We went there to go see the Australian financial landscape. It was ahead of South Africa by 10 or 20 years, they had 4 big banks and 3 large life companies. We wanted to get a sense of where South Africa might be heading. We spoke to a lot of the big financial services companies, one of the questions we’d ask them was ‘Would you invest in South Africa?’ – Australians are quite conservative and this was 1999 but they all unequivocally said no, they didn’t even ask about the business case. They said that the perception of South Africa in the 1990s was so poor, it doesn’t matter if there’s an excellent business opportunity – they said they couldn’t even take that to the Board.
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