Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Ms Thembi Siweya,
Acting CEO of Brand South Africa, Ms Thulisile Manzini,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Brand South Africa’s 4th Annual Nation Brand Forum, a platform created for deliberation and engagement on how South Africa’s Nation Brand identity and narrative is repositioned.
Nothing nurtures a sense of shared national pride better than the country consciously making efforts in nation building activities; and nothing unites a people better than sport, arts and culture.
I’m certain we are all proud of how the Springboks have been showcasing our sports progress in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan having secured South Africa’s spot in the finals with their phenomenal performance against Wales yesterday.
We have no doubt that the Boks will bring back the Rugby World Cup to our shores at the end of this tournament.
We wish them well in the finals against England next Sunday. #GoBokke
As a nation, we equally pride ourselves with the performance of our National Netball Team, the Spar Proteas, who were crowned the 2019 Africa Netball Cup champions last week.
Our young people have also been showing the world what we are made of.
The Ndlovu Youth Choir left us with goosebumps after their recent performance on America’ s Got Talent. How can I forget the pride I felt when I watched Trevor Noah interviewing one of our own, DJ Black Coffee on The Daily Show, not forgetting our starlet, Sho Madjozi who brought home Best International Act from the BET Awards earlier this year, with her recent single titled John Cena making international music charts.
We cannot forget our Soweto Gospel Choir who have consistently flown our country flag high by winning international music awards, including the Best World Music Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards earlier this year.
These are just a few examples of moments that make us so proud to be South African.
We are truly showing the world that we are an inspirational nation to be reckoned with.
All these phenomenal achievements in the arts, culture and sports sector are a manifestation of how far we have come as a young democracy underpinned by a Constitution which has been applauded as one of the most progressive in the world.
We have in only 25 years, created a thriving democratic dispensation which enshrined in our Constitution, the freedom of expression, access to information, media freedom and independent Chapter 9 Institutions supporting our democracy, which have ensured that all South Africans are able to freely exercise their democratic liberties.
Our political system is one which is envied by other nations. We have consistently over the past 25 years, held free and fair general elections every five years.
The most recent 2019 National and Provincial Elections had a record number of 48 political parties registered to contest the elections.
There were 19 more parties that contested since the previous national elections held in 2014.
This is indicative of a maturing democracy within a politically stable environment we have created since the dawn of democracy.
We have created a representative legislature, an independent judiciary and a capable government which serves all people of South Africa irrespective of their race, class, gender or creed.
Our Constitution also recognizes the institution, status and role of traditional leadership according to customary law in our society.
We have, in only 25 years, created and crafted a nation where a people who were previously systematically divided by a brutal Apartheid system, now live together in a peaceful and harmonious society.
Our democratic Government has achieved this through crafting pro-poor policies which have ensured that the previously disadvantaged black majority have equal access to basic services.
Our 25-Year Review Document which will be launched by President Ramaphosa next month, shows the significant strides we have made as a democratic Government and as a country.
We have delivered services such as water, electricity, sanitation and housing including provision of social support to the indigent, encompassing a special municipal services dispensation, fee free basic and higher education for the poor and free public health support, as well as social grants.
Our Government has ensured that people have the right to live in urban areas removing in particular the compound-hostel status of our townships, whilst improving the rural areas and working for a better life for all.
All the indices bear out our contention not only about the delivery of services, but about advancing the transformation of the State from an insular apartheid machinery to broad-based democratic institutions for an even distribution of public goods and services.
Whilst we are proud of the strides we have made as a young democracy, we still have a long way to go in dealing with the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Our country needs a thriving economic sector to drive development and transformation imperatives destined to improve the quality of life and a better life for all.
As an entity, Brand SA was established with the strategic aim to make an indirect contribution to economic growth, job creation, poverty alleviation and social cohesion by encouraging local and foreign investment, tourism and trading through the promotion of Brand SA.
We also have Country Heads based in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and China with the sole purpose of promoting South Africa in order to improve the country’s global competitiveness.
South Africa is currently the 60th most competitive nation in the world, out of 140 countries ranked in the 2018 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum.
We are also ranked 82 among 190 economies on the Ease of Doing Business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings, whilst on the African Continent, we are the 3rd biggest economy following Nigeria and Egypt respectively.
South Africa is also ranked 35th in the world for its high-tech density, which stirs heightened expectation for ventures like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the Northern Cape, where the world’s largest radio telescope was erected.
Innovation is a sure driver of Nation Building, thus we look forward to housing many firsts, creating a secure future for our children.
During his first State of the Nation Address for this 6th administration, President Ramaphosa outlined the Seven Apex Priorities of Government for the next five years, with the transformation of the economy and the creation of jobs being the first priority of this Government.
The low levels of economic growth and high levels of unemployment which have recently escalated to an alarming 29% requires Government and all stakeholders to come together to forge a new economic path for the country.
In appreciation of the need to put the country on a new economic trajectory, the National Treasury recently published an Economic Policy Paper of which the public has made valuable input on.
We look forward to our Minister of Finance delivering our Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday which will outline a new economic plan for the country to ignite growth in various sectors of our economy and create much needed jobs.
Building a Nation Brand requires that we lean on all pillars of society, from business, government and civil society.
It is only when we collectively and effectively deal with all the undesired elements in our society, which negatively affect our nation brand that we will be able to attract investment in our pursuit to grow our economy.
But, in achieving a coherent Nation Brand, we cannot turn a blind eye to the recent acts of violence against women, children and foreign nationals, and strongly condemn anything that seeks to break down the foundation it collectively took us to build.
As the South African Government, we have acted strongly by arresting the perpetrators of public violence and have implemented multi-faceted plans and interventions to prevent gender-based violence.
We want to strive for a violence free future that allows all to thrive.
Public perceptions of corruption and state capture have equally tainted our Nation Brand.
It is for this reason that Government has established a multi-pronged approach to dealing with corruption and state capture through, among other, the Public Audit Amendment Act which gives the Auditor-General of South Africa the powers to act against those to loot the public purse.
Government has also established a serious of commissions to unearth allegations of state capture, with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Investigative Directorate in charge of all state capture and corruption related investigations.
Key to building our Nation Brand is our participation at international multilateral forums which forge international relations and cooperation among states.
Amongst others to note, South Africa has had the privilege of chairing SADC, the AU and is currently chairing the Presidency of the rotating chair of the United Nations Security Council.
We are equally proud of our participation at forums such as the G20 and the World Economic Forum, having recently hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.
We also chair the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI), which aims to improve continental infrastructure (rail, road, water, electricity, etc.) in so far as these are aiding and abetting sub-regional, regional and continental integration.
Our participation in these Fora is a clear indication that we are part of the world family of nations.
The investment drive initiated by President Ramaphosa that seeks to raise R1.2 trillion over five years which will be used to among other, build infrastructure both in the public and private sector and ignite the growth of our economy, needs us all as active citizens to find meaningful and sustainable ways to ensure that we alleviate poverty and grow the South African economy so that we are able to realise Vision 2030, as espoused in our National Development Plan (NDP) which remains our lodestar.
As we build up to the 2nd Annual South African Investment Conference, to be hosted next month here in Johannesburg, it has become increasingly important that we join hands in profiling South Africa as a competitive business and investment destination to global and local audiences.
We want people of the world to fall in love with South Africa, perceive it positively and ultimately, trust us enough to invest with us.
Several pledges were made last year by both domestic and international investors to the tune of R300 billion with the aim of reviving the country’s economy.
Enhanced nation branding is a shared responsibility, therefore I challenge you, fellow South Africans, to find your niche, and utilize it at your optimal.
South Africa is on journey of transformation to eradicate inequality, unemployment and poverty, for the sake of social cohesion, inclusive growth and an innovative society.
It’s our story to tell and we must all commit to elevating the Nation Brand identity at every opportunity granted to us.
I thank you.
Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa