The government and business have agreed to work together to tackle some of the challenges facing South Africa, it emerged after a meeting of the country's senior political and business leaders at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria on Sunday.
South African business representatives attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week had requested the meeting, saying they wanted an opportunity to engage with the government on its priorities ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address on 14 February.
The business delegation was led by Business Unity South Africa (Busa) president Jabu Mabuza and Black Business Council president Ndaba Ntsele, while the government was represented by Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and ministers from the government's economic cluster.
The meeting focused on the importance of achieving job-creating economic growth and on deeper cooperation between the government and business.
'Promoting a positive South African brand'
Speaking after the meeting, Zuma said government and business shared the goal of building a prosperous society free of poverty, inequality and unemployment. "We share the goal of promoting a strong and positive South African brand," he said.
"We therefore need to work very closely together, especially at this critical period when our economy is affected by the harsh European economic meltdown that refuses to go away.
"We have to find a way to cushion the economy, improve our growth prospects and create much-needed jobs. Whenever we pull together, we manage to achieve a lot for our country and its people," Zuma said.
Mabuza said more could be achieved if the government and business partnered together.
He pointed out that the country's economy needed to grow three-fold by 2030 to deal with the socio-economic challenges facing the country, in terms of the National Development Plan.
Identifying constraints to doing business
"Government and the business sector must have the same goal of improving the economy. We are engaging our members to point out three to five constraints that make it difficult for business to triple economic growth by 2030," he said.
The Black Business Council raised the issue of the importance of improving implementation mechanisms for government programmes.
The government delegation raised various issues, including how to get business to absorb 11 000 Further Education and Training college graduates currently sitting at home.
The meeting agreed to work on mechanisms to implement the social accords signed by business, labour, government and the community sector in 2011.
In a statement, the Presidency said the government and business would meet again in two months' time to iron out obstacles to economic growth. The parties also resolved to meet every quarter going forward.