Roell Meyer during the Third Earth Reform of Imbiso on February 26, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. ANC Secretary General Guy Mantasche warned farmers who attended imbizo for catastrophic economic consequences similar to Zimbabwe if white South Africa "does not come in the road and cooperates with the ANC when it comes to land reform." (Photo: Gallo Pictures / Photo24 / Denzil Mareghele)
Roell Meyer became one of the most famous people in South Africa during the transition to democracy when he held negotiations on behalf of the National Party with the main mediator of the ANC, Kiril Ramaphosa. It's 20 years after he left an active policy to play behind the scenes role in global conflict resolution. But Meyer is now working with the government of South Africa once again: this time to help start the economy.
Roel Meyer was in Zimbabwe when Daily Maverick spoke with him on Wednesday, January 30.
Of course, he was: if a country is destroyed by civil strife, chances are good, Meyer will work unobtrusively behind the scenes to try to find a resolution.
The 71-year-old described his role in negotiating the transition to democracy in South Africa in an international career in conflict mediation. Mayer describes his organization, The Transition Initiative, as "very involved in many countries in providing advice to address challenges."
The challenges involved include some of the world's brightest geopolitical issues. For example, take Myanmar.
"I'm involved there, "said Meyer, and laughs rude." It's one of my headaches. "
He works in a "advisory capacity" with the government of Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi leader, who has faced increased international condemnation for maintaining the repressive regime and failed to act in the midst of a brutal military operation against Muslims Roingya.
Mayer spoke very little about his work in Myanmar. A Keeper report in November 2018. described Meyer as one of the "few figures" who still had Sui Kyi's ear.
"I have access to it, "Meyer admits Daily Maverick. "Does she always listen to me, is another matter – and she does not have to."
He says the situation on the ground in Myanmar is "much more complicated" than is generally portrayed in the media.
"It's not just Rohingya's problem. There are at least 15 armed ethnic groups in the country, all of whom should be dedicated to finding solutions. "
However, of all the current projects of Meyer, the one who describes himself as the most exciting is the playing of home soil. On Tuesday, January 29, President Cyril Ramaphosa attended Business Enaba in organization of Business Unity South Africa, where the Public Private Development Initiative (PSGI) for Ramaphosa presented its plans for ways in which the private and public sector in South Africa could to work together to fight unemployment and strengthen the economy.
PPGI is the idea of Meyer and his friend Johan van Zil, the executive director of Toyota Europe and Africa.
The way Maier speaks it was the inaugural state of the Ramaphosa nation that spurred the concept of PPGI. In particular, it was the President's call to call the public in South Africa, Thuma Mina – send me – it made the inspirational trick.
"We came to this idea to respond from the private sector to what the President said [in his SONA address], Says Meyer.
"The emphasis was on monitoring the sectoral approach; to participate in various sectors of the economy and to say: "This is what the private sector can do to boost the economy and create jobs." "
A random meeting of the plane between Meyer and the minister in the presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma helped provide a government bunch. The two are returning back, serving together in Nelson Mandela's first democratic office. Meyer says Dlamini-Zuma was "immediately interested" in the project and called Meyer and his colleagues at the Union Buildings to discuss further.
What is known today as PPGI has resulted in CEOs and representatives from 22 sectors of the South African economy, vowing to work with the government to create jobs, move the needle to economic growth and contribute to skills training.
By Tuesday, PPGI identified 18 concrete projects in different economic sectors for this purpose. They were presented to President Ramaphosa, ministers of the economic cluster of his cabinet and relevant department directors.
"There was a demand that we should allow the president to say something [the forthcoming] SONA had about 10 projects, and we gave him 18 years, "says Meyer.
"Each one is really exciting. There is one of the small business sector that says: "To create partnerships at the local government level", whereby municipalities can create opportunities for small businesses. It's something exciting that I do not think was put on the table so far. "
It is clear that the administration of Ramaphosa sees cooperation with the private sector as an essential ingredient – perhaps on a key ingredient – to put up jumping cables on the South African economy. Indeed, PPGI is not the only initiative of its kind at this time: The 2018 Presidential Jobs Summit was built around a similar model of public private co-operation.
South Africans could be forgiven for seeing PPGI as just another speaker, promising the world, but it is unlikely to deliver the goods in practice.
"This is not just a pie in the sky, "Mayer explains.
"From what I noticed in working with different sectors was an absolute enthusiasm by CEOs and companies. They want to do something for the country. There are more than 20 sectors that have committed themselves in this way and have done it voluntarily. "
He acknowledges that the critical factor will be the readiness of the government to address the "inhibitors" which the private sector quoted on Tuesday as disrupting its ability to contribute to economic growth: from political uncertainty to the unstable energy situation.
"There are harmful factors that we must first prevent and get out of the way, "Meyer said," the factors that have led to a decline in the economy over the past ten years. "
Although describing himself as eternally cautious, Meyer is nevertheless convinced that there is a new spirit in the air in South Africa, which makes this moment a real moment for significant economic growth to take root.
"I would not even try it [a project like the PPGI] under the previous administration, "he admits. DM
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