Business Eswatini hosted an extraordinary annual general meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn on Wednesday. Members of this apex private sector representative body were updated on critical issues impacting the business environment in the country.
Critical decisions on the mandate of the Organisation were thrashed out as well as the added responsibilities which members had to pursue. The event was well-attended and delegates went out waxing lyrical about the organization’s achievements in the past two years.
The President of Business Eswatini, Mr. Andrew Le Roux, led the proceedings supported by his vice presidential incumbents in Fikile Nkosi (Nedbank), Bheki Maziya (RES) and Mvuselelo Fakudze (Std Bank) who are responsible for the Trade and Commerce, Industrial Relations and Social Policy and Finance portfolios respectively. The CEO, E. Nathi Dlamini facilitated the programme alongside the president.
In his opening remarks, the president highlighted the importance of unity especially at a time when the country was divided. He further encouraged members to be active participants in the country’s policy direction and to weigh in on matters of economic development. He lamented the fact that the business community had not been able to meet as frequently as they had wanted and heaped most of the blame squarely on the effects of the pandemic and the unpalatable restrictions it attracted. He said that as a result some compliance lapses arose. He, however, stressed that Business Eswatini should always be a standard bearer for corporate governance. He articulated some of the gaps which creeped in as a result of the pandemic amongst which included the failure to convene regular meetings as per the organization’s constitution. The president further decried the fact that Business Eswatini’s priorities had to be frequently shuffled from time to time in order to concentrate on the issues that were deemed to be urgent, especially the response to the pandemic and pressing legislative issues.
The members were updated on new developments which the president said would shape the future landscape of business. Some of the hot topics covered included the need to ensure a conducive tax environment, support for labor-intensive industries such as the textile industry and cross-border topical issues including harmonization of border processes and transport and logistics issues of licensing and violence.
On Industrial Relations, new developments were primarily on the setting up of a coherent and sustainable social security fund, the employment legislation issues and training and localization matters which remained unresolved to date.
The members endorsed the secretariat’s decisions on a wide array of matters and further expressed satisfaction with the organization’s progress of advancing the private sector’s interests.
Another important issue that was deliberated on included the board’s term of office where the members had to debate on whether or not to go for another process of elections or extend the current board’s term. To this end, the membership endorsed a proposal to have the current board continue to serve because if they were to step down, the organization would be left without a board until the next election cycle which is a situation that they said would be untenable especially against the obtaining backdrop of an extremely volatile trading landscape. The view was that the board had done well in managing market challenges and navigating a complex environment in the country on behalf of members.
They expressed confidence on the leadership of the president and his team and went further to applaud their collective work ethic and their ability to uphold common values and consensus. Their institutional memory and acquaintance with the topical issues of the day was counted as a much needed strength. E. Nathi Dlamini BE’s CEO took time to happily congratulate the new team. He said; “On behalf of the management team and staff of Business Eswatini, I would like to congratulate the board of directors and to thank them for agreeing to continue in their current roles. We are well aware that most of them, including the president, had wanted to take a break, but on the secretariat’s behest, they agreed to carry on nonetheless.”