In her latest weekly newsletter, Busi Mavuso, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, emphasised the urgent need for South Africa to address the challenges posed by “new and emerging” threats to its economy. Highlighting the significant disruptions in key areas of the national water infrastructure as a pressing concern, Mavuso raised awareness of the growing issue of water scarcity impacting various parts of the country. This call for action underscores the importance of proactive measures to safeguard South Africa’s economic stability in light of these critical challenges.

By Nathi Ka Donda

Amid South Africa’s challenging economic downturn, Busi Mavuso, the CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, has highlighted critical issues like water scarcity affecting major urban areas and industrial sectors.

Residents of Johannesburg are facing a dire situation as the country’s primary economic hub grapples with a water shortage crisis. This issue is exacerbating existing problems such as power outages and crumbling infrastructure, placing immense strain on the city’s residents and businesses.

In her latest newsletter, Mavuso highlighted the importance of proactive crisis management to prevent disruptions to economic activities. She specifically warned of potential threats like the impending cut-off in gas supply, which could put several job opportunities at risk. While South Africa’s economy has shown signs of growth, Mavuso pointed out, there remain concerning disparities in per capita income levels that need to be addressed.

“There is no excuse for us to not get this right. We have the resources and we have the plans, and if there is sustained political will, we will succeed. The risk is that in an election year, there are many distractions when we need to keep focused on delivering the reforms needed.

“At the same time, it is critical that we also plan to manage new and emerging threats to the economy. At the moment, the national water system is an increasing concern. We have already seen how local water service delivery failures can damage business, forcing factories to close and relocate. Water service failures seem to be growing with reports last week of taps running dry from Mbombela to the south of Johannesburg.

“Incidents are blamed on crumbling infrastructure, load shedding and a culture of non-payment by consumers. Bulk water supply to large manufacturers and mining companies is an increasing concern, posing further risks to economic activity.

“The ongoing water supply issues in Johannesburg have caused a lot of concern among its residents since late 2023. Regular notifications of planned water service outages by the city’s water authority have become a regular occurrence, and unexpected shutdowns have made disruptions even worse in various parts of the city.”

Mavuso underscored the importance of avoiding a scenario in which the resolution of energy and logistics challenges is overshadowed by a new crisis that impedes economic activity.

“We cannot find ourselves in a situation where we have resolved the energy and logistics crises only to be confronted with a new crisis that ultimately means economic activity doesn’t happen. So, while tackling immediate crises head-on is important, we must maintain vigilance on what the next major constraint is. As I wrote last week, the looming cut-off of gas supply to industrial users is a challenge we are having to grapple with, mobilising late in the day to try and ensure gas consumers are not left unable to function come mid-2025 when existing supplies will cease.”

Discussing the nation’s GDP, she stressed that the primary focus of the country’s efforts should be on promoting economic activities: “The national effort needs to focus on what matters: economic activity. Electricity, logistics, gas, and water are all important to enable it, as are many other things like tackling crime and corruption. Last week’s GDP figures were a very loud clarion call for us to act fast. The people of South Africa are becoming poorer, and their legitimate aspirations to be able to work, generate incomes and take care of their families are being frustrated. It is incumbent on government and business to work together to support the economy, ensuring key network industries deliver and that utilities function as intended.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *