IMG_3833 edited

From left to right: WBS Director and Head of School Professor Wendy Ngoma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib. Photo: Nokuthula Manyathi

By  Ray Mahlaka and  Nokuthula Manyathi

SOUTH Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is trying to find remedies for the country’s socio-economic problem.

He addressed the Wits Business School (WBS) Alumni annual general meeting yesterday.

Motlanthe was joined by the incoming Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib and WBS Director and Head of School Professor Wendy Ngoma.

Habib, in his introduction, said Motlanthe was a thoughtful leader who governed with integrity.

“The one [Motlanthe] I would regard as the one with the greatest integrity. Few politicians are as liked and respected and are willing to engage,” added Habib.

In his address Motlanthe wanted to interact with the audience; to find out how South African citizens could heal all aspects of the country for the sake of their future and economy.

Economic dilemma, labour productivity, universities and development ambitions

Motlanthe raised the following questions: “What is the nature of our current economic dilemma, how can our nation improve labour productivity, what role can the universities play in South Africa’s development ambitions, can the private sector do more than it’s currently doing to help South Africa achieve the set goals?”

Unemployment, poverty and inequality were considered by Motlanthe as a “triple challenge” to the government’s development goals.[pullquote]“The Deputy President doesn’t want to lecture, but facilitate a debate and a conversation”[/pullquote]

He also argued that the shadow of apartheid had not fully receded in South Africa.

On the current economic climate, Motlanthe said there was little investment in new production and that South Africa was becoming a consumer economy.

“We are disindustrialising…labour productivity has declined by 42% since 1993,” said Motlanthe.

The decline in labour productivity was a point of concern to Motlanthe because he considered labour production as the fundamental ingredient to economic growth.

Solutions to South Africa’s socio-economic problems

In trying to find effective solutions Motlanthe supported the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) and also suggested greater investment into the education system.

“The NDP has been accepted as the roadmap to growth in South Africa and laid out the parameters to contribute to a shared vision,” said Motlanthe.

He also said the long-term solutions to our socio economic problems were based on having a sound education system.

“Universities are well positioned to contribute to South African challenges. Universities must become the core of innovation. We need closer ties between universities and government,” Motlanthe said.

As part of creating effective solutions Motlanthe urged the private sector to be more involved in mentorship and in social development programmes.

“More than any point in our history does the private sector have more to contribute,” he said.

In his closing remarks Motlanthe said continuing conversations between South African citizens and the government were the stepping stones to finding long-term solutions.

Habib said the aim of hosting the WBS forum was to create a free space where members of corporate, [Wits] staff and student community can engage with the Deputy President on the broader issues currently plaguing the country.

“The Deputy President doesn’t want to lecture, but facilitate a debate and a conversation…We will never address problems unless we learn to talk openly beyond institutional boundaries,” said Habib.