Beware 'radical economic transformation': Nyati - TechCentral

Beware ‘radical economic transformation’: Nyati

Mteto Nyati

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


  1. Greg Mahlknecht on

    That’s the core problem with the ANC’s plans – it attempts to fix the inequities of the past by taking the easy route of dragging the succesful players down, not the far harder task of lifting the disadvantaged up.

    By big bugbear is that I started varsity in 1990, just as Apartheid fell, and the racial makeup then was about 1/3 black,indian,white and to my knowledge has been at least that since – the blacks came from families who were FAR more advantaged than most the whites (and had been for a looooong time); so for 20+ years varsities have been giving all the races an equal opportunity at the education needed to lead this economic transformation, yet if you listen to the ANC, it would seem that they haven’t used their opportunity.

  2. Excellent observation.
    A shorter version might read: The ANC have been in government for the past 23 years and during those benighted 23 years they have proven to be a thundering disgrace, both to themselves and to their own citizens, BIGLY.

  3. Mongezi Mhlophe on

    This man has short memory. The current players in the market are against new entrants. Look at what happened when a new exchange licence was granted to a new player, they were taken to court. Same what happened to eTV regarding set top boxes. The current economy and its western players are against transforming and enabling a space for new players. If he calls what is happening at JSE regarding ownership, where less than 10% is black people and says that is “working ” then clearly he is naive. This CEO doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

  4. Your memory is even shorter or you looking but don’t know people irrespective of colour. Why do they have so many taxi wars, because they don’t want see a another having a piece of the pie. The only difference is, they shoot and kill one another. Who are the bosses, not the so-called whites. Take the beam out of your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from your neighbours eye.

  5. Which varsity were you attending in the 90’s were “blacks came from families who were FAR more advantaged than most whites…”?

  6. Greg Mahlknecht on

    University of Kwazulu-Natal (UND – U Natal-Durban back then). Myself (and many of my friends) had to get bursaries or student loans, our families couldn’t afford the R7k/year it cost back then for a B.Sc. Not being part of the Afrikaans community it seems we were excluded from the white privilege back then 🙁 Work hard and earn your way is what we were taught, it’d be nice if our president sang that song rather than the “free land!” one he’s trying to sing now.

  7. Elias Tšotetsi on

    Mteto Nyati sees and understand the “radical economic transformation” as I see and understand it. It is contrary to investment that the ANC says must happen to create jobs by attacking the established businesses as “White monopoly”. Destroying these companies or preventing them to invest further will not do any good to this country that is hungry for jobs. I always wonder whether ANC people understand what they are saying. They blindly follow what Zuma is saying although most of them should understand the problem this is going to cause better than Zuma who lives in his own world.

  8. Mteto makes a great point. The strongest economies in the world work this way. The big corporates start out as a small organisation who have found a way to add value that existing businesses can’t (or won’t) add. They then grow, create jobs and build capital. They don’t complain about the existing businesses they compete against. Instead, they focus on being better.

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