The relationship between big business and the government in South Africa

South African companies need to acknowledge their role in apartheid and apply their resources to the challenges of today.

Had they taken that opportunity to reflect on their role in a fundamentally unfair system and, coming out of that process, to institutionalise the necessary changes, they would be playing a much more meaningful role in the transformation of South Africa today.

The relationship between big business and the government would also be in a far healthier state than it is, 21 years after we achieved democracy.

For example, when US presidents visit another country, they never fail to take with them a representative from a big American company, such as GE or Boeing.

Even though the US government isn’t a shareholder in those businesses, the president backs them from a distance when he makes a state visit.

In the years ahead, we should see business stepping up with innovative solutions rather than waiting for government to impose policies such as black economic empowerment or, worse still, being caught out in scandals of collusion, as have been seen in the construction sector and even the bread industry.




source: Reimagining South Africa, edited by McKinsey & Company.

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