Limpopo Regional Producitivity Awards speech by Productivity SA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mothunye Mothiba
Programme Director, Ms. Mpho Mathelemusa
The Honourable, MEC, Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Mr. Thabo Mokone
The Chief Director, LEDET Ms. Lily Maja,
Productivity SA and LEDET leadership and staff
Ladies and Gentlemen
Fellow South Africans
Avuxeni, Dumelang, Ndi matseloni, Goeiemôre, Good morning
There is an age old adage that goes more or less like “if you give a hungry person fish today, tomorrow he/she will come back for more, but if you teach a person how to catch fish, tomorrow he/she will not come back to you”. Ladies and gentlemen in that saying I have attempted to capture the primary reason we are here today.
Today we are here to foster the spirit of our ability to sustain ourselves and all the companies represented here have shown what it takes “to catch fish”. By “sustaining ourselves” I am not simply referring to those of us who are gathered within the confines of this building but I am talking about sustaining the entire province of Limpopo and ultimately South Africa in its entirety.
First and foremost, let me start by wishing all of us a happy productivity month (October is declared Productivity Month in South Africa).
Programme Director, allow me to acknowledge our host today, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment & Tourism (LEDET), and the support we always get from the Member of the Executive Council (MEC), the Honourable Thabo Mokone, MPL.
MEC, this event happens at the right time on the backdrop of the President of the Republic, His excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa having unveiled “The South African Economic Restructuring and Recovery Plan, before the joint sitting of Parliament yesterday, the 15th October 2020. The plan aims to expedite the recovery of South Africa’s economy that was, like most economies, deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. What is more relevant for us today, which drives the strategic partnership between LEDT, Productivity SA, LED and SEDA in this province is, Reindustrialising the economy – focusing on small businesses and strengthening medium and large businesses. This will be done through a major infrastructure program and large-scale employment stimulus, coupled with an intensive localisation drive and industrial expansion.” The plan is laid out, all we have to do is implement, and I believe what we are doing here today is the foundations of our commitment to make the plan a reality, and prove the doomsayers wrong. It is us, who should give details to the plan and make it a reality for ourselves – no one, including the analysts, will do it for us.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my considered opinion that, more relevant to us as we converge here today is, LEDET stands true to the adage that, Charity begins at home. This is evidenced by the support the Department and its entities are providing to enterprises and cooperatives present, and the 12 enterprises being recognised here today stands as portfolio of evidence. This is a true illustration that the department is at the forefront of enabling sustained competitiveness and economic growth of the province. Through supporting companies here and others that have not made the cut to the Limpopo Regional Awards finals, LEDET has been true its playing a leadership role in improving the competitiveness and sustainability of enterprises and cooperatives to create the decent jobs that we require the most, and improve the livelihoods of the citizens of this beautiful province. I add to the call made by the president that, as citizens of Limpopo, to contribute to the recovery effort we should buy the products and services of these entrepreneurs and enterprises – BUY LOCAL. This is one way that every one of us can contribute to the rebuilding of our economy.,
n the spirit of call on every South African to contribute to the recovery effort to buy locally made products and services. This is one way that every one of us can contribute to the rebuilding of our economy,
MEC, Ladies and gentlemen, surely Productivity SA, whose mandate is to promote employment growth and productivity thereby contributing to South Africa’s socio-economic growth and competitiveness will definitely not go wrong with a strategic partner like LEDET and its entity LEDA.
Programme Director, our aim today is to showcase companies that have performed consistently despite a depressed economic environment. Perhaps, before I go into the role companies represented here today and LEDET in collaboration with Productivity SA have played, let me take the opportunity to outline the current environment. Those of you who follow football would be aware that recently South Africa borrowed one of its finest exports in football Pitso Mosimane to our counterparts in Egypt as a coach of African football giants Al Ahly (this confirms what the President has directed us to do – increase the export potential of South Africa.
For Pitso Mosimane to reach those levels he had to first understand the playing field as a player and coach. To reach the top you should understand your environment, which strategists would call Macro and Micro Environmental Analysis.
In similar vein to what Pitso Mosimane did to reach the top, we need to acknowledge that before we can even compete globally with the top performing countries we have to understand the challenges facing South Africa. Our reality is that, outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic which necessitated the national state of disaster and the nation-wide lockdown, hit us at a point when most of the macroeconomic and labour market issues which matter most, including our productivity growth and competitiveness levels were at an all-time low. Competitiveness ranking at 59 out of 63 – regression in all the four broad factors in competitiveness (IMD WCY, 2020). This situation will continue beyond COVID-19. The pandemic coupled with technological advancements are worsening our situation in that, they are disrupting, with devastating effect our already fragile economic and labour market systems, as well as infrastructure (health and education) and business models. The reality is that South Africa as a country and its SMMEs are facing low Productivity growth, which is a key driver of long-term competitiveness and economic performance (or enterprise competitiveness and sustainability), therefore, low competitiveness and economic growth which have been getting progressively worse year on year since 2010, and worsened by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The picture looks bleak, but the tenacity of South Africans has shown that nothing is insurmountable.
I want to argue that, compounding the country’s low productivity growth, competitiveness, economic performance, as well as business efficiency are, amongst others:
i. our lack of appreciation of the value of and accountability for productivity (the efficiency and effectiveness with which labour, capital, materials, energy and other resources are combined and utilised in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner to produce quality goods and services for the satisfaction of human needs)
ii. the lack of a productivity-enhancing national policy and strategy to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprises,
iii. a lack of policy cohesion to expand the productive assets in our economy.
These are the issues that should keep us awake at night as policy makers. These provide us a sense of urgency to implement the Economic Restructuring and Recovery Plan. We should be clear that, the continued lack of a productivity-enhancing national policy and productivity culture as essential instruments for economic transformation undermine our country’s ability to unlock its productivity capability and potential of SMMEs for sustained competitiveness and growth.
What we need more than ever before as South Africans is cooperation and collaboration to rebuild a productive economy. We have learned from the most competitive countries that, economies that bring everyone along together, investing in reskilling the workforce and boosting infrastructure, will be best able to withstand global economic crises and/or recover quickly from the consequence of the COVID-19 crisis. These countries integrate into their economic recovery policies and plans productivity growth and competitiveness (which is the case now in the Economic Restructuring and Recovery Plan). We should collectively boost productivity in a focused and targeted manner, with clear and measurable productivity and competitiveness targets and outcomes, and ensure that the set outcomes are closely monitored, and the impact evaluated. To address the low productivity growth, competitiveness and economic performance, we should develop a national productivity-enhancing policy and strategy, and foster policy cohesion to expand the productive assets in our economy. The main thrust of our productivity and competitiveness framework should be the recognition of the vital role of productivity in promoting economic growth, employment creation, global competitiveness, improvement in standards of living and overall national development and prosperity. Government should be committed to creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprises, by assisting them to improve their innovation capacity and expertise through sector-specific productivity improvement roadmaps and stronger cross-sector support capacity. Our interventions and Plans should highlight the need for productivity to be addressed holistically at all levels (national, sector and enterprise) to ensure a systemic change across the economy, which is a departure from previous fragmented efforts to raise productivity.
This is what we should drive in our Memorandum of Agreement (LEDET, LEDA and Productivity SA).
The journey towards economic recovery is daunting and require commitment. I am pleased that together with LEDET, Productivity SA set a target to provide support to programmes aimed at sustainable employment and income growth to 418, which target we met by over 45 as we managed to train over 463 people. Some of you today will recall the training. It is through efforts of this nature that we are able to reach a point whereby we gather today to celebrate such achievements. Speaking of celebration, it is refreshing to see productivity in motion as we celebrate companies that have thrived through utilising Productivity SA and LEDET programmes. The rationale behind our gathering today is to award companies that have shown resilience, focus and ability to overcome challenges despite tough economic conditions.
As we celebrate the Productivity Month 2020, this should be the landmark to committing to this year’s theme, “Unlocking productivity for sustained competitiveness and economic growth post Covid-19”. Next year when we meet as this collective, we should take stock of how far have we gone in promoting the importance of productivity and inculcating a sense of competitiveness in every citizen in this province. This with a clear understanding that, productivity is an enabling tool for transforming our economic growth and the creation of jobs. We should be clear of the benefits of productivity to business (increased profits and wealth for shareholders), to employees (increased income, salaries and benefits), and to government (increase tax, improved GDP and employment growth)
Through these awards, Productivity SA acknowledges companies that have improved productivity and performed beyond expectations. The awards intend to recognise organisations making significant contributions towards making South Africa a productive country. Through the awards and recognising organisations from the public, private and emerging sectors, Productivity SA and LEDET aim to encourage other organisations to strive to be productive and globally competitive.
Through showcasing the productivity successes of the represented companies, Productivity SA is striving to encourage other organisations to increase their productivity thereby contributing to the country‘s economic growth. It is comforting to say that Productivity SA and LEDET are not working in isolation. This is JoinedUp Government in Action.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing I would once more, wish the finalists success in their enterprise and call upon us to support them by buying their products and services. I reiterate that, one element that would buoy us into enhanced economic recovery based on strategic and structured interventions is productivity growth, the outcome of which is sustained competitiveness and economic growth.
If we can adopt this approach, it is only a matter of time before we fill up this room with participants and double if not triple the number of companies that receive awards. Congratulations to all the companies represented here today.