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Letters to the Editor: November 16 to 22

Business, be a force for good

After several years of weak growth and rising unemployment, news that the private sector has pledged to invest nearly R290-billion in the South African economy shows a clear willingness by business to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

But we need a drastic change of approach if we are to maximise the effect of these investments.

Historically, South Africa has a poor track record for converting investment into inclusive growth.

Even during the “good” years, when the economy was experiencing growth in excess of 5%, unemployment and inequality remained stubbornly high.

Much of this has to do with a mismatch of skills in the labour market. This has been exacerbated by a failing public education system in which fewer than half of South Africans pass matric and only 6% of young people get some form of tertiary qualification within six years of matriculating.

The 2018 Business Contribution Index (BCI) tracks the direct and indirect contribution made to the economy by various sectors and found that the private sector is collectively the most important contributor to economic growth and prosperity in South Africa. It’s also the biggest employer.

By understanding the essential role that business plays in generating economic opportunity in South Africa, the BCI shows how we can leverage that role and amplify its effects for the benefit of the wider economy — and ourselves — by improving financial inclusion and developing practical skills and capacity in our younger employees towards transformed and empowered futures.

On their own these investments may seem relatively insignificant, but it is as a collective that their true effect will be felt.

We are committed to using business as a force for good and hope that others will examine their own contribution. — Adam Craker, chief executive officer, IQbusiness

Let Muslim cops keep their beards

Senior police commissioners in KwaZulu-Natal are ordering Muslim policemen to shave their beards.

How does a beard have anything to do with a policeman being able to apply the rule of law or be fair?

South Africa is a secular state. Religious freedom is guaranteed in that context. For everyone to enjoy the right to religious freedom, tolerance is crucial. In a society as diverse as South Africa, no religion should be preferred over another and religious freedom should be promoted.

It doesn’t cost anything. It could boost morale and staff retention in a small but significant way. And a policeman with a well-maintained beard can look as dignified and sharp as a clean-shaven cop. — Shaista Mia, Durban

Women, unite and use your strength

The abuses against women are more than amply proven. Assembling more women to come weep and look helpless is getting tiresome. Women should change tack and project their power and not their weakness.

The way to go from here is to run campaigns under one, and only one, rubric, “Under Your Watch”, for every offence against women. People must account or resign. Don’t march with politicians, march against them. Set targets and hold them to the targets. They will continue to neglect this matter unless pressure mounts. Make it more costly to neglect women’s issues.

This thing will never end when those in charge escape accounting but come to join the moaning and mourning of victims. Who is in charge? At this stage, they are part of the problem. Women can and must paralyse this country and force it to change. — Dr Masitha Hoeane

Control the most dangerous species

In his article, R6.5-billion lost to alien invaders, Sipho Kings states that trout “kill off indigenous species”. No evidence exists to show that trout have exterminated any indigenous species in South Africa.

For more information consult my article “Why Trout?” posted on Politicsweb on June 29 this year and read Duncan Brown’s book, Are Trout South African? Stories of Fish, People and Places. — Ed Herbst

I’m delighted that Sipho Kings has returned to the Mail & Guardian. His articles are always worth reading (one hopes that the relevant government departments do read them too), and they create much concern.

Our species is responsible for the degradation occurring throughout the world, and Africa must take some blame. From climate change and water and land shortages to problems with electricity and sewage disposal, it is the fauna and flora that suffer. It all boils down to the explosion in the human population worldwide. What is needed is a concerted programme of family planning, but I suspect that I am stirring a hornet’s nest. — AJ Coles

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