IT will take inclusive leadership, pockets of excellence and a balanced economy to get South Africa back among the world's most competitive countries, renowned scenario planner Clem Sunter said yesterday.
Addressing The Herald business breakfast at The Summerstrand Inn Hotel in Port Elizabeth yesterday, Sunter said foreigners were being deterred from investing in South Africa because of policy uncertainty and that recent events at the Marikana mine were not helping to build investor confidence.
"As a friend once said 'businesses do not like to go into a country where you get killed'," Sunter quipped.
Explaining his three scenarios for the future, Sunter said South Africa could be heading either for the "premier league", "second division" or a "failed state".
While predicting only a 10% chance of a failed state, Sunter warned that there were "flags" that risked sending South Africa in that direction:
lThe "possibly disastrous" call for the nationalisation of mines;
lA "clumsy implementation" of the National Health Insurance (NHI);
lThe proposed media tribunal and its punitive measures for journalists; and
lPossible land invasion, which Sunter said was the most toxic one.
"Similar to the judiciary, if you do not have a free media, corruption goes through the roof."
He said South Africa had dropped to 50th place in the International Institute for Management Development's annual competitive report, from the 30s in previous years.
"In the premier league, we return to the mid-30s where we rightfully belong as both overseas and South African companies invest the large hoards of cash that they have been accumulating on the side-lines in our economy," he said.
Sunter said: "A balanced economy is two-pronged. There is the outward economy that earns us enough foreign exchange to pay for our imports and an inward economy that creates jobs and makes a significant dent on our hideous unemployment rate.
"There are three spaces we can dominate on the global stage – resources, tourism and being the gateway into Africa.
"If the country is to create jobs, there should be huge focus on encouraging thriving small businesses and there is no such focus in South Africa," he said.