Newly appointed Altron CEO Mteto Nyati has spoken out against “radical economic transformation”, warning that in the short term politicians will use it to convince people that it will benefit them, while in the long term, it “will have destroyed this economy”.
Nyati, speaking in a podcast interview with TechCentral on Thursday, said: “We really need to understand and be careful of this ‘radical economic transformation’.” He said he is deeply concerned about the direction the country is headed.
Nyati, a former CEO of MTN South Africa who took the reins at Altron from Robbie Venter this week, warned that politicians risk destroying what has worked in business, all in the name of radical transformation. This, he said, is a mistake that will cost the country dearly.
“As a South African, I am concerned. I am concerned that we have a country that has been downgraded [to junk] by one of the rating agencies. It is likely to be downgraded by the others to junk status, too. The consequence of that is there is going to be less money to go and address the huge number of challenges we have a country, and that’s a big problem,” he said in the podcast. “What has happened is something that should have been avoided. But this is where we are. We now need to be looking at solutions.
“Let’s take one step back. My big concern is about the rhetoric I keep hearing, because on the back of what has happened is this thing called ‘radical economic transformation’. What that means for me is why some of us are opposed to the ICT policy [white paper]. It is more about breaking what is working to accommodate new players versus coming out and saying, ‘How do we create the space to allow the new players to come in while protecting what is working?’”
Nyati cited the examples of two black-founded and black-led businesses that have carved a place for themselves in South Africa’s ICT sector, Business Connexion and Adapt IT.
“Business Connexion was formed by the two twins, Isaac and Benjamin [Mophatlane]. Adapt IT was formed by Sbu Shabalala. None of these people said, ‘Let’s go and break IBM or let’s go and break Dimension Data in order to create space for us’. No, they looked for ways of coming up with something unique and something that would help them stand out there and be competitive,” he said.
My big concern is about the rhetoric I keep hearing, because on the back of what has happened is this thing called ‘radical economic transformation’
“That is what we need to be encouraging as a country, versus saying, ‘Let’s take away from the people who have done something’. That will damage this country.”
Nyati, who has been highly critical of the ICT policy white paper, saying it will create a new monopoly in telecommunications in South Africa, said getting the country back on track will not be easy. But it’s important that the problems are resolved through dialogue.”
“Nothing is a substitute for dialogue. We need to go back to the old spirit of South Africa. How do we build this country together? Now business is talking to labour. Business is also talking to the politicians. That can only be a good thing. Let’s talk to each other with the view to coming up with solutions. I do not have easy answers to this, but through dialogue — we have smart people in this country — let’s allow them to come up with solutions.” — © 2017 NewsCentral Media
- Listen to the podcast interview with Mteto Nyati