South Africa has reached a critical junction as a constitutional democracy and needs resolute commitment to deal with corruption and structural economic and social economic imbalances, says Gareth Ackerman, the co-chair of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) and chairman of Pick n Pay.

Addressing the annual summit of the GCCSA in Johannesburg today, Ackerman said South Africa is delicately poised between success and reversing the economic and social gains that have been achieved since the advent of democracy in 1994.

“Not only has the strength of the democracy been tested by recent political events, but the government’s commitment to sustained economic growth has also been brought into question, notwithstanding the policy pronouncements that have been made, especially since the last credit crisis in 2009,” said Ackerman.

He said as the largest industry and employer representative body in South Africa, the CGCSA believes there is now need for resolute commitment to dealing with structural economic and social imbalances that the country faces. “A commitment to transparency, respect for state institutions, accountable leadership and dealing with corruption are non-negotiables if South Africa is to move forward,” Ackerman said.

He said the issue of state capture have “engulfed” South Africa over the past year, and continues to take centre stage. “The narrative on corruption continues unabated, and worryingly has encroached into the private sector as evidenced by recent events surrounding KPMG/McKinsey/SAP,” Ackerman said. “On our part, the CGCSA, working with sister organisations such as Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) has and continues to raise awareness of the need for good governance and accountable leadership in both the public and private sectors,” he said.

Ackerman said the CGCSA’s more than 12 000 member companies, are committed to playing their role to complement efforts to restore economic growth and address the social inequalities in the country, create employment and achieve inclusive growth which remains the centrepiece of the country’s economic policies.

CGCSA members, who include the retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors, currently contribute 18.4% or over R508.51 billion to South Africa’s GDP and employ over 2.9 million people, translating to about 23.7 percent of total employment in the economy.

“Our members have, despite the negative economic outlook and challenging trading environment, demonstrated remarkable resilience. Indeed, times are tough; consumer spending is under extreme pressure, while the impact of crime – especially business related crime and robberies – continues to be a major cause for concern,” Ackerman said.

“On average up to three or more businesses are robbed daily in South Africa and this not only results in loss of business , but increases the climate of fear among both business owners and consumers,” he said.

Statistics show that although there was an overall decrease of 9% in particularly armed robberies and burglaries between January and September 2017, compared with the same period in 2016, the number of armed night robberies increased dramatically by 224%.

“This is a serious cause for concern because the financial losses incurred by businesses during crime incidents (that is either during the incident or loss of trade) can have such a negative impact which could lead to job losses which in turn impacts the economy,” Ackerman said.

“We have asked for a meeting with the Minister of Police in the run-up to Christmas to discuss this issue, including the concerns of our members about security of people during month-ends when social grants are paid through some of our members,” he said.


Issued by Corporate Image on behalf of the Consumer Goods Council of SA