Making South Africa a better place requires positivity

CFOs encouraged to serve their communities with optimism to make meaningful change across the country.

In the time of social media, bad news tends to spread faster than good news. During a panel discussion titled ‘Our Duty To Make The World A Better Place’ that took place at the Finance Indaba this year, finance professionals heard that in today’s world of doom and gloom it’s important to remain positive, do good in their communities and strive to make South Africa and the world at large a better place.

The panel was made up of Kumba Iron Ore CFO Bothwell Mazarura, Hatch Africa financial director Craig Sumption, Discovery Health CFO Brett Tromp and Coca-Cola Beverages financial director Walter Leonhardt.

Bothwell told the audience that they need to think beyond what they do at work and focus on making a difference in society, which means CFOs should work with churches and community organisations and give back their time and expertise to these communities.

“I’m in the mining industry and our history is not a good one,” admitted Bothwell. “A better world is where the mining industry makes a positive impact. We need to re-imagine mining to have a positive impact in people’s lives, to leave people in a better position than they were in before.”

For Craig, a better world means working towards better corporate governance and growing the economy. In his view, people need good corporate governance and strong laws in place in order to live their lives effectively. “The challenge we have in this country is government’s approach to things,” explains Sumption. “Government needs to be interlinked and we have to get to a point where business, community and government work together.”

Brett agreed, saying that the only way to change people’s lives for the better is if we are integrated into communities. Tromp told finance professionals that they need to find a deeper purpose in life that goes beyond just getting a salary.

Brett added that South Africans have to stop thinking negatively and that the worst is going to happen to them. “Negativity won’t take us forward, let’s change the narrative about South Africa and be positive.”

According to Walter, there’s too much inequality in South Africa and finance professionals have to have a sensitivity to feel where the inequalities are and make a difference through either their personal lives or the companies they work in.

He concluded:

“We need to ensure that people start more at an equal than an unequal footing and help them become successful.”