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University of Stellenbosch Business School lecturer

Chasing her destiny: USB lecturer becomes the first woman in SA to receive a PhD in Development Finance

USB News

Chasing her destiny: USB lecturer becomes the first woman in SA to receive a PhD in Development Finance

  • Sep 18
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

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Lecturer. Researcher. Poet. Commissioner. Dr Nthabiseng Moleko is a busy woman. And in between all the different roles she fulfils, she managed to find time to complete her PhD in Development Finance from Stellenbosch University earlier this year – making her the first woman in South Africa to have a Doctor of Philosophy in this field behind her name. The title of her PhD is, Pension Fund reform towards development of national economy:  A South African Case Study.

Moleko, who lectures Managerial Economics and Statistics at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), started with her PhD journey in 2014 with a scholarship from the business school. “I worked in the pension fund industry prior to entering the public space. I’ve always had an interest in how finance, and in particularly pension funds, can be used in developing economies and infrastructure.

“When I was formulating my problem statement, I had a discussion with my supervisor (Prof Sylvanus Ikhide), who saw the potential in this topic. We agreed on various research questions to address, including whether pension funds could be related to the economic growth of the country, looking at the Public Investment Corporation that remains one of the biggest asset managers in Africa, and just trying to understand Africa’s pension fund sector and history,” she says.

Her PhD is a robust assessment of pension funds in South Africa and its contribution to South Africa’s economy. The central question answered is that pension fund assets do have a positive effect on economic growth, namely through capital markets. We also found that despite the highly developed banking sector and capital markets, households have not channelled their income to savings. Income levels are a linkage to boosting savings, thus it would be important to prioritise labour-intensive economic growth whilst improving incomes.

In 2017, with her full-time scholarship coming to an end, she became a lecturer at the business school while continuing with her studies part-time. She still teaches at USB and graduated with her doctorate at the university’s graduation in April this year.

She says a highlight during her PhD journey was being able to present her papers at international conferences. “There are three conferences that stood out for me. I presented one of my papers in Accra (Ghana), where I have never been to before.

“The other conference took place in Zurich (Switzerland) and I presented a paper on poverty in Africa and how it can be reduced,” she says. “It was rewarding being at a conference with not only Europeans but a mix of practitioners and academics from all over the world who all want to alleviate poverty. Poverty is a global problem that requires global collaborations and think tanks to come together, and conferences like that enables the opportunity to collaborate and engage with other thought leaders and practitioners.”

The third conference is attended by mostly academics and will be her third year that she attends if her paper gets accepted this year. “It is very encouraging to hear from other peers, who are experts in their field, that your work is good but also getting feedback on how I can improve.”

She says as an academic how to lessen poverty is key to her. “How do you translate your policy recommendations and reviews into things that can translate into real world policies and applications? That for me is critical,” she says.

Contributing to knowledge and realising that she can contribute ideas to society, is another highlight. “You make contributions to public discussion of the greater society. For example, I wrote a piece for a financial magazine that had a special report on retirement funds. I focused on how we need pension funds and products for the low income market, especially those who are not in the formal economy.

“Having completed a PhD, I have gained more in-depth knowledge and therefore have more authority and a voice in that area. I am able to influence thoughts and thinking in my field, which is great.”

Moleko also serves as a Commissioner on the Commission for Gender Equality and her role often requires her to write. “As you grow you become more confident to write; you find a voice. One of the biggest accomplishments for me is developing a stronger and unique voice,” she says.

Academic papers is not the only form of writing she enjoys. She also has a passion for arts and culture and during October 2017 she launched her first poetry book, Been Chasing Destiny. The book is an anthology about the different phases one undergoes when journeying through life, attempting to figure out your purpose and chasing your destiny.​

Moleko has a deep passion for South Africa and represents a unique voice – a mix of factual and spiritual on South African issues pertaining to governance and also the economy perhaps. “The book is a story of hope and attesting to the love I have for South Africa, by connecting to my audience with my voice,” she says.

So how does she balance it all? “I think you have to have your priorities set out. I knew that I came here originally to do a PhD – everything else was secondary.

“I focused and put all my energy into my research. I ensured that even if I did my teaching and faculty-related work that I didn’t compromise the pace at what I was moving on my research. I had to balance my time and sacrifice a lot of my social life. I didn’t sleep much; I still don’t sleep much!”

She says she works well under pressure and produces a lot of output when she has too much to do. ”Previously I worked in a very intense job with minimum resources and high expectations. So you have to perform. I think because of this background I was able to balance everything.

“Also, when you start producing academic papers and see the results, it encourages you to pursue with the PhD. That kept me going,” she says.

Being a people’s person, one of the biggest challenges the past few years was the amount of time she had to spend alone reading and doing research. “During the PhD you spend long amounts of time alone reading. Alone, thinking. It’s a very solitary journey. But it’s part of the process – you have to read a lot; gather your thoughts. So you have to be very comfortable in your own space,” she says.

“I also had to learn to receive critique, whether it’s a submission of your work to your supervisor or a journal. You become very humble as you realise that even if you think it’s your best work yet, there’s always a way to revise and improve on it,” she says.

Now that she has achieved her goal that she set out in 2014 to achieve, what’s next on her list? “My life has taken a course that I don’t really plan what happens to me. Opportunities come when they appear. I look forward to make use of this new skill set that I have,” she says.

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USB’s Dr Babita Mathur-Helm appointed as regional editor of international journal

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USB’s Dr Babita Mathur-Helm appointed as regional editor of international journal

  • July 30
  • Tags Gender, Management, journal

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Dr Babita Mathur-Helm appointed as regional editor of international journalDr Babita Mathur-Helm, senior lecturer in Leadership, Diversity & Inclusivity Studies and Gender Studies and Gender Empowerment at USB, was recently selected as the regional editor of the Gender in Management: An International Journal, an accredited journal that has received Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) status. Here she answers a few questions:

Q: What are some of the key topics covered in the Journal?

A: The journal accepts qualitative and quantitative research-based articles as well as critical research reviews and analyses covering a broad range of management topics in so far as they relate to gender issues; including Careers, Communication, Conflict, Cross-cultural issues, Decision-making, Employee-employer relationships, Equal opportunities, Entrepreneurship, Glass ceiling issues, Leadership, Organisational justice, Reward and recognition, Sexuality and sexual orientation and Work-life balance.

The management of gender is critical to the effective functioning of organisations in the emerging markets if they are to become a “developed market”. – Dr Babita Mathur-Helm

Q: Why are these topics so important?

A: Gender in Management particularly encourages papers from emerging regions of the world, which expand our knowledge of these areas and which provide insights into the different cultural underpinnings of research from and about these parts.  The unique and often controversial mix of articles, research, interviews, news and book reviews, makes the journal an essential reading for companies developing appropriate strategies for the advancement of women professionals.

Although many topics that the gender covers are well researched area, the special issues focuses on the advancement of interdisciplinary research in the  wider area of gender studies.

The management of gender is critical to the effective functioning of organisations in the emerging markets if they are to become a “developed market”. The serious academic inquiry in certain fields is relatively new and many topics covered by the journal are conceptualised to evolve the body of knowledge. There are several research-based articles regularly published in the journal, which have the potential to develop new insights to solve the pressing problems which are being faced by the managers and leaders toward management of gender in the workplace.

Q: What can readers look forward to in your first issue as regional editor?

A: As a regional editor for the Gender in Management Journal I will aim to advance knowledge and practice in the area of gender in management and leadership from African perspectives and context. However, the focus will be on empirical research, theoretical developments, practice and current issues in the international field. The regional journal aims to address broad-ranging social issues and their impact on gender in African workplaces and organisations, Africa’s political and legislative practises, social and educational policies and economic factors, in its consideration of gender in management and leadership.

The aim of the regional journal is to enable a community of GIM researchers and practitioners from and in African continents where they can exchange their ideas, develop and contribute to the research agendas and progress in the development of Gender Management, both theoretically and in management and leadership.  The regional editor aims to introduce GIM as essential reading for those who want an overview of the current research and practice base in Gender Management in Africa and for practitioners seeking ways forward to develop GIM through African experiences.

 


 

More about the Gender in Management: An International Journal

Gender in Management: An International Journal (formerly Women in Management Review) is a double blind peer reviewed journal which publishes original, critical and scholarly papers that make theoretical and methodological contributions to our understanding of gender-based issues in management.  The journal encourages diversity in thinking about gender in management and welcomes papers from all academic disciplines which can contribute to management knowledge about this area. Whilst focusing on management concerns, the journal acknowledges the importance of a broader social context influencing gender in management issues, such as political and legislative decisions, education and social policy, economic factors, etc.  Papers which examine gender-based management issues in specific industries or sectors are encouraged.

This journal is ranked by:

Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS, UK) Academic Journal Guide, AIDEA (Italy), Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) Quality Journal List, Australian Research Council (ERA Journal List), BFI (Denmark), NSD (Norway), QUALIS, Scopus, The Publication Forum (Finland)

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Reading List: Prof Piet Naudé

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Reading List: Prof Piet Naudé

USB Director Prof Piet Naudé suggests that you read these five books this summer. Click on the image below to slide to the next.

  • Stellenbosch Business School DirectorProf Piet Naudé
  • OCT 01 2018
  • Tags Books, Reading List, USB Director

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‘No quick fix for SA’s troubles,’ says Prof André Roux

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‘No quick fix for SA’s troubles,’ says Prof André Roux

  • MPhil in Futures Studies Programme HeadProf André Roux
  • SEP 21 2018
  • Tags Economy, VAT, consumers, South Africa, budget, unemployment

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This article was written by Prof André Roux, head of USB’s Futures Studies programmes

Most consumers in South Africa are probably feeling punch drunk as they have to contend with a seemingly unrelenting barrage of unfavourable political and economic developments. These include regular monthly increases in the petrol price, the rising costs of energy and water, the recent hiking of the VAT rate (and other sin tax rates), the growing likelihood that short-term interest rates have bottomed out, the persistent weakening of the rand exchange rate, and the festering uncertainty about property rights.

“Productivity growth lies at the heart of economic growth and development.”

While some of these developments are not of our own making (e.g., the marked increase in the international price of oil in US dollars; the widespread depreciation of emerging market currencies), many are symptoms of underlying domestic structural fault lines. So, while economic growth this year could be a bit firmer than last year, it will hardly be enough to swell the tax base sufficiently to cope with the demands being placed on the fiscus. In fact, the budget deficit remains unsustainably high, while household balance sheets are being squeezed by high fuel prices, still high interest rates, and the first increase in the VAT rate in more than 20 years. Ultimately, there can be little doubt that – directly or indirectly – consumers are bearing the brunt of the fiscal profligacy and political largesse that has prevailed for the best part of a decade.

In the circumstances, unemployment is likely to remain at 25% or more over the next few years. In this regard the issue of productivity needs to be highlighted. When all is said and done, productivity growth lies at the heart of economic growth and development. However, productivity growth in South Africa is sluggish, to say the least, for reasons that are well-chronicled. These include low efficiencies in the use of labour and capital; a variety of challenges (including regulatory and financial barriers) that prevent businesses from maximizing their potential; and a low competitive base. Indeed, the entire labour market-employment-education nexus requires a radical transformation.

“Collaboration between the public and private sectors is a crucial co-creator of productivity growth.”

These realities are confirmed in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2017/18 Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), which tracks the performance of 137 countries by measuring those factors that drive long-term growth and prosperity. To this end 114 indicators are grouped into 12 pillars. Mauritius is ranked highest in Africa (ranked 45th in the world), followed by Rwanda (ranked 58th), and then South Africa. Compared to the previous year, South Africa dropped 14 positions (to 61st place) in the overall rankings, after having previously improved from 56th in 2014/15 to 47th (and second in Africa) in 2016/17. South Africa’s major weaknesses lie in health and primary education, labour market efficiency, higher education, and institutions.

The WEF also lists, in descending order of importance, the most problematic factors for doing business in countries. Until last year the biggest obstacles in South Africa were typically linked to labour force and bureaucracy deficiencies, while government instability was virtually irrelevant as an obstacle. For 2017/18 the three biggest obstacles are corruption, crime and theft, and government instability. This major reprioritisation of concerns is a reflection of political uncertainty in 2017, which lowered the confidence of South African business leaders, along with a deterioration in the country’s institutional capacity and integrity. Institutions matter – a lot. With few exceptions the prosperity of a country is closely correlated with its institutional quality. When institutions (defined as the legal and administrative organisations that form an enabling environment for wealth creation) fail, trust is eroded and the stock of social capital depreciates, thereby compromising economic growth and development. Moreover, collaboration between the public and private sectors is a crucial co-creator of productivity growth; in the absence of strong institutions, however, the collaboration between the public and private sectors may become dysfunctional, with both sectors colluding in the pursuit of personal gain at the expense of consumers and taxpayers.

In the long term, failure to engender and maintain institutional capacity and integrity, along with an inappropriately educated workforce, obstacles in accessing finance, and political and government instability will produce, at best, mediocre growth and patchy wealth creation.

“A political and leadership revolution is still playing out. And for now President Ramaphosa’s major challenge is to keep the ruling ANC together and record a convincing victory at next year’s election.”

Many South Africans were probably expecting a major and rapid turnaround in the country’s economic fortunes after the ejection of former President Zuma. However, with the best will in the world, one person, and seven months cannot undo a decade of mismanagement and the warped allocation of scarce resources. A political and leadership revolution is still playing out. And for now President Ramaphosa’s major challenge is to keep the ruling ANC together and record a convincing victory at next year’s election. Assuming success in this, he will then, feasibly have 10 years to ignite a renaissance; to herald in a “New normal.” Radical transformation is required to escape from the seductive allure of credit-driven spending; and to revamp labour market arrangements, and the education system, both of which are displaying signs of partial dysfunctionality. Above all, a restoration of the aesthetic and moral fibre of society is called for, so that normlessness, entitlement, and selfishness give way to ethical behaviour; the eradication of elitism, autocracy, and illegitimacy; and the establishment and entrenchment of a shared image of a desired future, with government playing a key visionary role, moulded by foresight and long-term planning. At this crucial juncture of South Africa’s post-apartheid era, the game-changing question is whether President Ramaphosa has the ability and will to introduce and implement a plausible turnaround strategy. However, there is no quick fix that will yield immediate tangible results.

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USB's Associate Professor to Full Professor

New professor shares her journey and reflections

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New professor shares her journey and reflections

USB's Associate Professor to Full Professor

  • JUN 19
  • Tags Staff | Women

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Moving from Associate Professor to Full Professor takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Prof Nicolene Wesson, head of the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management and Administration (PGD BMA), was recently promoted to Full Professorship. Here she shares her journey…

My academic journey started in 1994 at the School of Accountancy at Stellenbosch University where I was an Associate Professor since 2001 and lectured for 14 years. I then took a break to be a full-time mother for five years. I joined the academy again about six years ago when I started working at USB. In 2016 I was promoted to Associate Professor again after obtaining my PhD in 2015 and I’ve now been promoted to Full Professor as from 1 July 2018.

I really enjoy teaching and doing research
– especially bringing research back into the classroom

There is no set time on how long it takes to become a full professor. The guidelines for promotions and appointments depend on the institution (and faculty within the institution) you work for.

USB is part of the Economic and Management Sciences faculty at Stellenbosch University and we have three roles that are regarded as integrated, namely teaching, research and social impact. For promotions those three criteria are used as guidelines. To be promoted to Full Professor you have to be recognised nationally and internationally as an expert and academic leader in a particular field or discipline.

 

HighlightsI really enjoy teaching and doing research – especially bringing research back into the classroom. I’m truly inspired by our students and in the difference they make (and want to make) in society.

A personal highlight for me was the response to my PhD that I completed early 2015. After all the hard work it was very rewarding to see that my research did have an impact on governance. My research title was, ‘An empirical model of choice between share repurchases and dividends for companies in selected JSE-listed sectors’. My research focus remains to be on issues relevant for managing entities in a responsible manner, therefore contributing to the debate on economic and societal welfare.

 

AdviceIt’s definitely not always easy to be in the academy and to balance not only the three roles (teaching, research and social impact), but also your own family and private life. I was fortunate to have a mentor in my supervisor for my PhD who has motivated – and still motivates – me to go the extra mile. I’m also fortunate to have a family that supports me, a husband and two lovely sons, and I can attest to receiving abundant grace.

The USB started out (53 years ago) with a very small full-time academic staff component and have in recent years been able to expand our academic faculty. I do expect to see many of our excellent faculty joining me (and my colleagues) with their Full Professorship in the near future!

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strategic

A strategic architecture perspective to stimulate strategising in organisations

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A strategic architecture perspective to stimulate strategising in organisations

strategic

  • JUN 04
  • Tags Strategy, Inaugural Address

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A strategic architecture perspective to stimulate strategising in organisations. This was the title of the inaugural address by USB’s Prof Marius Ungerer who delivered his address on Thursday evening, 31 May 2018.

In the photo are Prof Piet Naudé (USB Director), Prof Ingrid Woolard (new Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at Stellenbosch University), Prof Marius Ungerer (Professor in Organisational Strategy) and Prof Wim De Villiers (US Rector).

In his concluding remarks, Prof Ungerer said an effective strategic architecture will move organisational thinking to a higher level. “Strategy, as the act of producing greater certainty for stakeholders on what to expect and what to do, is necessary but not sufficient for organisational survival. We need leaders with the necessary wisdom who display both the moral will and the moral skills to lead us into an uncertain future.”

We need leaders with the necessary wisdom who display both the moral will and the moral skills to lead us into an uncertain future.

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Restore the Soul of the Nation to Stop its Bleeding

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Restore the Soul of the Nation to Stop its Bleeding

  • OCT 27
  • Tags Technology, Business, News, University

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Article written by Commissioner Nthabiseng Moleko 

The nation has gone through a season of intense testing and tribulation that has culminated into a tumultuous week.  Heart wrenching moments that kept many of us awake as we have watched the nation bleed at the destruction of our institutions, downgrading of the economy, and vicious attack against her soul from all angles. I believe we must now rebuild the broken pieces, as a nation well capable and armed to do exactly that.  A nation must be judged by how the most vulnerable in society are treated.  With violence against women and children reaching frighteningly high proportions.  Spousal abuse by intimate partners, molestation of children, intimate partner killings, sexual violence statistics show the majority of South African women have been violated in one way or the other.  Children too. Shocking statistics shown by the Centre of Violence and Reconciliation and Statistics South Africa lead me to believe this cannot be solved by government interventions, judicial processes and the justice system alone. South Africans are bleeding.  4% of 15 year olds teenagers are mothers, one in 4 women experience violence from a loved one, the horrific nature of sexual violence against children we know all too well.  The State of the Nation Address (SONA) should address the true state of our nation, we are hurting and need healing.

I believe we must now rebuild the broken pieces,
as a nation well capable and armed to do exactly that.

– Commissioner Nthabiseng Moleko

Surprise swept across the nation last week as the first ever SONA was postponed. These last 4 years we have seen a series of knee jerking and nail biting events taking place at previous SONAs. We have watched South Africa robbed of its decorum and dignity in what once was a dignified event. The lobbying and divisions we saw in Parliament due to justified reaction by opposition leaders at the lack of decisive action against acts (and non actions) within Parliament (by leaders still in power), paralyzing the nation. One need not see the delay as a calamity, but rather a time for us to see the division that has torn apart our nation. Has the State of the Nation truly delved into the status and condition of our nation so that we can move forward? Unless a man looks at himself in the mirror and sees his true condition, dealing with the flaws will be deemed ineffectual. We need the incumbent President of the Republic, to tell us the true state of the nation.

Many experts agree that South Africa is bruised and battered from a divided and dysfunctional education system, with Grade 4 learners that can barely read and write. Our teachers lack content knowledge and presence in the classroom, we decimated ourselves with the closure of teacher training colleges. We need to urgently revive and reclaim areas where we have lost substantial ground, not just these last two terms but since time memorial. At the State of the Nation we need to hear of how improvements in the education sector will be done, as a matter of urgency. If we do not rectify our underperformance, we set our children up for failure with a pass rate of a measly 30%, failure will remain systemic within our entire department and transformation of our nation will remain a dream.

The nation is bleeding from the crisis in education system which will inflict far greater harm on the national development plan agenda than we could ever envisage in the long run. The calamity of 67.4% unemployed youth, leaving the majority of our most productive on the fringes of economic activity is a tragedy. The failure of the South African labour market and economy to absorb them must be urgently addressed. Our education outcomes a sham, with matric certificate not revealing that the majority of schools with good results are Model C’s and those on the outskirts worsening in performance. We expect the President to declare a strategy of how to improve the poorest, marginalized and least funded schools in townships and rural areas as a long-term strategy. The curriculum has to be amended with teacher training colleges revived as a matter of urgency, if this government is serious about the redemption of our nation and its goals. The revival of governance and management in TVET colleges is something that must be prioritized. Revival of partnerships with industry, and complete restructuring of SETAs, using them to link industry to youth labour market using the subsidies and revenue in a more effective and efficient modus operandi. Reforms must take place. Billions have been transferred to SETAs over the last decade and the impact does not match the resources transferred. The proposed increased fiscus allocation to higher education of R12.5 billion, moving us from 0.68% to 1% of fiscus as a percentage of GDP is a positive move by the state as tertiary education cannot be the panacea for the wealthy, elite and middle class. It is a luxury that must be afforded to all South Africans for inclusive growth to be realised.

Our economy de-industrialising at a frightening rate, yet we continue to see a bloated fiscus that is unsustainable with a shrinking, unproductive economy. The economy is shrinking dramatically whilst the rest of the world is growing, with output rising, yet our own national output dwindled dropping to recession levels last year, and is currently at a dead stop. Last years growth estimations range in parameters below 1%, grossly below our East and Central African counterparts. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda have been growing at more than 5% growth per annum during the same period, and are amongst the fastest growing economies globally. Yet despite our institutional and infrastructure advantages we have not made gains enough to dent unemployment, which is rearing its ugly head worsening to 36.4%. We need to include those who gave up looking for work a week ago in our discussions, they too remain unemployed. The announcement of land expropriation without compensation can be classified as a reminder of many other announcements, which we have not realised significant gains from. Economic access and inclusion remains a national project, with more than 30 million suffering poverty, 17 million reliant on state grants. Policy makers are correct to argue that these perhaps have pulled many out of poverty trap, however if handing out social grants has been the most effective source of declining poverty there is much more work necessary in growing our economy. This is the South African story, but other nations never rely on cash transfers alone, rather agricultural reforms, land access, improvements in health and education outcomes and financial inclusion (for the poor). Such improvements have enabled China to move 300 million Chinese out of poverty in less than two decades. Enhanced productivity, increasing manufacturing output and supporting exporting capabilities and placing greater emphasis towards improved intra-African trade we expect to hear within SONA. The primary and secondary sectors with the advancement of technological gains can enhance Africa’s gains in the 4th Industrial revolution.

Rationality and reason whilst ignoring values and the moral foundations of a society, with all the infrastructure and technical advantages, a country will find itself wanting. Moral decay has shown that without a value system in this nation, we cannot develop. The high levels of violence against women and children unprecedented, communities remain unsafe due to criminality and stability in our communities a long forgotten desire. If we are unsafe in our homes, places of worship, malls, schools it limits our fulfillment as citizens.

There is no country where the poorest of the poor remain on the peripheries, uncared for and we talk about sustainable development. Statistics say we are poorer, thus economic participation of all South Africans in building the nation must come from beyond receipt of cash transfers. The work of rebuilding the nation is a problem for all of us, not just the problem of government. Civil society, business, labour and government must work together to improve conditions for all. But we expect the state, and our newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa to give direction on how the country plan will be informed by integrity. We must rebuild what is broken. Secondly, a coherent budget and implementation plan led by the state highlighting education, and boosting the economy for inclusive growth, so that we can include the most vulnerable. Moral regeneration must underpin our socio- economic development, with values coming to the fore of this new era. Devoid of the values of respect, truth, love, justice, dignity and equality, we will remain in a degenerative state.

Commissioner Nthabiseng Moleko is Commissioner for Gender Equality and is an Economics and Statistics Lecturer at University of Stellenbosch Business School.

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