Addressing the July 2017 graduates of the Wits University Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Stephen Koseff, CEO of Investec Bank and a Wits University Alumni, said South Africans need to work together and find a new social pact that transcends ideologies and backgrounds, and unite under a common goal to tackle the country’s current and future problems.
Koseff was honoured by Wits with an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce degree. He is one of four extraordinary South Africans to receive honorary doctorates in the second cluster of Wits University's graduations for 2017. The others include musician Hugh Masekela, historian Professor Shula Marks and Telkom chairman Jabu Mabuza.
"We need to rebuild trust. Let's not fall prey to the negative narratives that are designed to divert attention from the real issues. Instead, let's rather reframe the challenges facing our country within the lens of shared values. We must unite under a common goal and tackle the problem with innovative thinking and bold and pragmatic leadership. We must agree, simultaneously, to grow and transform our economy."
Referring to the current climate of corruption and distrust between politics, business and the society, Koseff said he was worried about some players making business the scape-goat for all the ills of our society. He expressed concern, in particular, about slogans like "White Monopoly Capital", "Fake News" and "alternate narratives", which he said are being used as a ruse and a distraction to enable "rent-seeking and looting".
He believes South Africa needs to create a deracialised, vibrant, diverse and globally competitive economy that enables all South Africans to have the opportunity to participate in the economy and earn a sustainable livelihood.
"Business is not the enemy, it is the key to creating jobs and enabling transformation. It is for this reason that business, labour and government must partner to create the right kind of growth, to achieve the desired outcomes. Some will call this inclusive growth, others prefer the term "radical economic transformation" - not a term that I really like, but I attempted to redefine it, because this means different things to different people. Ultimately the task is to ensure "accelerated inclusive growth" - one that supports transformation and job creation. That is what I believe is necessary to uplift the majority of our people out of poverty."