Red tape is stifling trade in Africa, businessman Christo Wiese has said.
“The real problem, I believe, much more than corruption, is simply the stifling red tape in Africa,” he told the Cape Town Press Club today.
Wiese, who is South Africa’s third-richest man, noted that trade among African states comprised only 15% of their export business.
“For the other 85%, we trade with the rest of the world, and not with each other. One of the … major reasons for that is simply bureaucratic red tape,” he said.
“To move a shipment of goods for (retailer) Shoprite, from South Africa to Mozambique, you have to fill in 1 600 forms to cross the border. And most of those are required by the South African authorities.”
Wiese has a controlling stake in Pepkor, which owns retailer Shoprite Checkers.
He called for a “free-market approach for the movement of capital and goods across our borders”.
Earlier, Wiese spoke out against those with a pessimistic outlook on the country’s future, which he said did not help its international image.
“I think one of the worst aspects, in terms of what’s happened to our image, is South Africans tending to shoot themselves through both feet … Mainly white South Africans can never get enough of complaining,” he said.
On black economic empowerment, he said the past could not be ignored.
“The point is, we cannot simply ignore the past … When I look at black economic empowerment and employment equity, it is clear it is something right and wrong. That’s the world in which we are.”
However, Wiese did call for an end to cadre deployment, and said a professional civil service should be developed.
“We’ve got to start employing people on the basis of merit, and not skin colour or political party affiliation. We are moving in that direction, and we will get there, but if we don’t, we are going to have a little Arab Spring,” he warned.
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