Sunday, June 23, 2024

ActionSA agric, finmin nominees reflect SA Parly’s 2024 talent upgrade

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Over the past few weeks we’ve highlighted how South Africa is poised for a massive upgrade in the talent occupying its Parliamentary benches. As political competition intensifies with the imminent loss of the ANC’s majority, new faces and new parties are being drawn in. Among them are ActionSA’s Athol Trollip and Pieter Scribante who share insights with BizNews editor Alec Hogg.

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Highlights from the Interview

The interview with Pieter Scribante and Athol Trollip of ActionSA covered their backgrounds, motivations for entering politics, and their visions for South Africa’s future:

Pieter Scribante, with a background in economics and policy analysis, emphasized his transition from the private sector to politics driven by a desire to implement effective economic policies. He highlighted ActionSA’s focus on private sector-led growth, job creation, and reforms like minimum wage adjustments and a universal basic income stimulus.

Athol Trollip, drawing on his extensive political experience, stressed the potential for new ideas and professionalism in Parliament. He underscored the importance of passionate commitment to politics, citing his own journey from a farmer to a dedicated politician advocating for rural development and effective governance.

Both speakers emphasized ActionSA’s mission to bring fresh perspectives and practical solutions to Parliament, aiming to address South Africa’s economic challenges, enhance governance, and foster a more productive political environment. Their shared commitment to service and reform reflects a vision for a proactive, dynamic role in shaping the country’s future.

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Edited transcript of the Interview

00:00:11:01 – 00:00:47:19

Alec Hogg: With South Africa’s watershed election just around the corner, we’ve been taking a closer look at both new and returning faces in Parliament, offering a glimpse of what the South African parliamentary scene will soon look like. Today, we’re speaking with the nominees for Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Finance from ActionSA.

00:00:47:21 – 00:01:19:15

Alec Hogg: Athol Trollip is a name and face well-known, particularly to the BizNews community, and especially to those who attended BNC four in September 2022, where Athol gave an inspiring talk and also won as the best golfer. Joining him is Pieter Scribante, the nominee for Minister of Agriculture, a name that might be less familiar.

00:01:19:15 – 00:01:43:00

Alec Hogg: Pieter turns 31 this year, while Athol has just turned 60, making them almost half a century apart. Pieter, schooled at the London School of Economics, has been praised by your party leader, Herman Mashaba, as a potential finance minister. I notice Pieter, you’re number 13 on the list, with Athol at number two.

00:01:43:01 – 00:01:52:22

Alec Hogg: Athol seems set to enter Parliament. Pieter, what percentage of votes does ActionSA need for you to secure seats next month?

00:01:53:00 – 00:02:15:20

Pieter Scribante: Thanks, Alec. If we were under the old system, it would be exactly 3.25%. However, due to new legislation with 200 seats regionally and 200 nationally, it’s more complex. Nonetheless, I’m optimistic given the momentum in the Western Cape and our strong showing in Gauteng.

00:02:15:20 – 00:02:21:12

Pieter Scribante: I’m not too concerned about our prospects.

00:02:21:13 – 00:02:49:05

Alec Hogg: Your roles are crucial in the MPC project. Neil De Beer recently tweeted a breakdown suggesting ActionSA could reach 9% to achieve the 51%. How realistic is this figure from your perspective?

00:02:49:07 – 00:03:01:16

Alec Hogg: Athol, as number two on the list, what’s your take on Neil’s optimistic projection for ActionSA?

00:03:01:18 – 00:03:23:21

Athol Trollip: Look, ActionSA anticipates a substantial increase in MPs. Pieter, at position 13, and myself at number two, are poised for Parliament. As for the 9%, it’s ambitious but within reach, considering our groundswell support.

00:03:23:21 – 00:03:35:04

Athol Trollip: While I’m not new to Parliament, I plan to retire by 65, having represented for many years. However, I look forward to returning with a fresh caucus.

00:03:35:06 – 00:03:44:09

Alec Hogg: Is Neil De Beer’s 9% estimate overly optimistic for ActionSA?

00:03:44:11 – 00:04:07:22

Athol Trollip: Political parties are cautious about specific figures. If we fall short of 9%, it might be seen as a setback, while exceeding it might not be recognized. We’re a dark horse this election, challenging polling methodologies.

00:04:07:22 – 00:04:21:18

Athol Trollip: From my experience, our grassroots support isn’t fully captured by polls. We’re poised for a strong showing.

00:04:21:20 – 00:04:52:13

Alec Hogg: Athol, you’ve explained your transition from farming back into politics. With your background, agriculture seems a natural fit. What plans do you have for this sector if elected?

00:04:52:15 – 00:05:16:22

Athol Trollip: I ceased farming in 2005 and shifted to the fruit marketing industry, assisting black citrus growers with production and exports. With extensive committee experience, I see vast potential in rural provinces like Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where agriculture remains underdeveloped.

00:05:16:22 – 00:05:45:18

Athol Trollip: Addressing rural economic stagnation is critical, combating joblessness and urban migration. Effective agricultural development can reverse these trends, fostering sustainable growth and security.

00:05:45:20 – 00:06:10:01

Athol Trollip: The plight of rural communities, especially in former homelands, underscores the urgency for reform. We must turn potential into prosperity.

00:06:10:03 – 00:06:38:19

Athol Trollip: Agriculture and related sectors hold the key to unlocking economic opportunities and curbing social unrest.

Read more: Nyati – how Eskom’s killing loadshedding, creating surplus

00:06:38:21 – 00:07:00:11

Athol Trollip: Rebuilding trust with investors, local and foreign, hinges on revitalizing these neglected regions.

00:07:00:12 – 00:07:34:02

Athol Trollip: South Africa must prioritize rural development to address systemic challenges and restore hope to disenfranchised communities.

00:07:34:04 – 00:07:42:04

Athol Trollip: Security and investment are intertwined, essential for sustainable growth.

00:07:42:06 – 00:07:54:00

Alec Hogg: Pieter Scribante, your surname carries weight in Port Elizabeth. Any ancestral ties there?

00:07:54:02 – 00:08:11:11

Pieter Scribante: No, it’s been several generations since our paths crossed. The Scribantes in the Eastern Cape are distant relatives, if at all. Nevertheless, my family has a longstanding presence in South Africa.

00:08:11:15 – 00:08:25:08

Alec Hogg: I was just wondering if we had two guys from the Eastern Cape here, because obviously we know where Athol is from. From your perspective, could you tell us a bit about your career and your decision to enter politics at such a young age?

00:08:25:12 – 00:08:50:08

Pieter Scribante: Thanks, Alec. I hold two master’s degrees, one in economics from the University of Pretoria and another in economic policy from the London School of Economics, as you mentioned. For the past five years, I’ve been in the private sector, conducting macroeconomic and impact analyses across various African countries, encompassing both politics and economics.

00:08:50:10 – 00:09:14:11

Pieter Scribante: Over time, I’ve gained extensive knowledge in economic spheres, observing policies that succeed and those that fail. While analysis is valuable, there comes a point where one wants to take action. My introduction to politics began at the University of Pretoria, where I served on the SRC during the “Fees Must Fall” movement. My background bridges both economics and politics, motivating my decision to pursue this path.

00:09:14:11 – 00:09:37:11

Pieter Scribante: Until joining ActionSA, I refrained from affiliating with any political party due to a lack of alignment with sound economic principles. ActionSA’s platform resonates with economists like myself, offering policies that can effectively address our country’s challenges.

00:09:37:11 – 00:09:58:19

Pieter Scribante: I believe I bring substantial value, particularly in advocating for private sector-led economic growth over expanding state control, a critical priority for addressing our unemployment crisis.

00:09:58:21 – 00:10:22:17

Alec Hogg: Herman Mashaba, ActionSA’s leader, is known for his entrepreneurial background and successful tenure as Johannesburg’s mayor. Was this appeal part of your decision to join ActionSA?

00:10:22:19 – 00:10:24:20

Alec Hogg: Was that part of the appeal to you?

00:10:25:00 – 00:10:52:12

Pieter Scribante: Absolutely. One of the intriguing aspects of ActionSA and Herman Mashaba’s approach is their intuitive grasp of sound economic policies. Herman’s practical experience and policies, including those focused on private sector growth, resonate deeply with economists. Our emphasis on creating a competitive economy to attract international investment and foster local entrepreneurship is paramount.

00:10:52:12 – 00:11:17:01

Pieter Scribante: Addressing our unemployment crisis through innovative economic policies, such as minimum wage reform and universal basic income stimulus, distinguishes us from other parties fixated on expanding the grant system.

00:11:17:03 – 00:11:41:00

Pieter Scribante: The current dominance of trade unions in government, particularly under the ANC, has constrained job creation and economic growth, especially for SMEs and entrepreneurs. ActionSA aims to rebalance these dynamics.

00:11:41:02 – 00:12:16:20

Pieter Scribante: We believe this balanced approach is crucial for South Africa’s economic revitalization.

00:12:16:22 – 00:12:36:12

Pieter Scribante: Furthermore, fostering a competitive environment is essential to spur economic growth and opportunity.

00:12:36:18 – 00:13:10:23

Alec Hogg: Earlier today, I spoke with Eskom’s chairman, Nteto Nyati, about transformative initiatives within the institution, such as 50 days without load shedding. With your experience, Athol, having been in Parliament, do you foresee innovative ideas shaping the next parliamentary term?

00:13:11:00 – 00:13:38:19

Athol Trollip: Certainly. Before I directly answer, I want to reflect indirectly on the importance of historical lessons and new ideas. Looking back at the pre-1994 era, while I opposed apartheid, the agricultural sector saw significant development. Projects like the Gariep Dam enhanced water supply, transforming regions like the Eastern Cape into South Africa’s breadbasket.

00:13:38:21 – 00:14:09:11

Athol Trollip: We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we can draw from successful historical strategies to stimulate rural economies and promote food security. As for innovative ideas in Parliament, ActionSA brings a fresh cohort of professionals and newcomers, unencumbered by traditional political baggage.

00:14:09:12 – 00:14:35:06

Athol Trollip: These individuals can inject new perspectives into parliamentary committees, fostering constructive debate and hopefully altering entrenched habits that hinder progress.

00:14:35:06 – 00:14:58:18

Athol Trollip: Professionalism is key. Current parliamentary conduct often falls short, but I believe new voices can rejuvenate the legislative process, especially in portfolio committees.

00:14:58:20 – 00:15:20:02

Athol Trollip: I left politics but returned due to Herman Mashaba’s inclusive call to fix South Africa’s issues. I’m committed to contributing to a team, regardless of party lines, focused on meaningful change over the next five years.

00:15:20:02 – 00:15:44:05

Athol Trollip: Leadership must set a mature example to overcome the current parliamentary challenges. ActionSA aims to elevate the discourse and address South Africa’s pressing issues effectively.

00:15:44:07 – 00:16:04:08

Athol Trollip: Portfolio committees offer a space for genuine progress. With proper preparation and diverse perspectives, we can drive positive legislative outcomes.

00:16:04:08 – 00:16:22:19

Athol Trollip: I’m optimistic about the potential for change and collaboration across party lines in Parliament.

00:16:22:21 – 00:16:48:01

Athol Trollip: Herman Mashaba’s vision resonates with me, and I’m eager to contribute to fixing South Africa’s challenges with a unified approach.

00:16:48:01 – 00:16:48:21

Athol Trollip: I’m fully committed to the task ahead.

Read more: Investors anticipate stable ANC-IFP coalition post-election’24

00:16:48:23 – 00:17:14:19

Alec Hogg: 400 people make the laws for this country, largely invisible except for a few with cabinet posts. With the energy I see, especially from both of you, there’s potential for better results. Pieter, what do you expect when you get to Parliament?

00:17:14:19 – 00:17:24:21

Alec Hogg: Some say it’s terribly boring. Will you be bored stiff or find ways to make a difference?

00:17:24:21 – 00:17:50:08

Athol Trollip: Alec, it depends on the caucus you join. Parliament’s weakness is its proportional representation system, where MPs must toe the party line. If led one-dimensionally, it can be frustrating and dull.

00:17:50:09 – 00:18:19:09

Athol Trollip: During my time as opposition leader, I found Parliament stimulating. Embracing your portfolio, researching, and fieldwork can make it incredibly productive.

00:18:19:09 – 00:18:38:16

Athol Trollip: It’s up to us to make Parliament productive. In ActionSA, with a focus on fixing South Africa, I foresee dynamic engagement and collaboration.

00:18:38:18 – 00:18:39:22

Alec Hogg: That’s great. Pieter?

00:18:40:04 – 00:18:41:08

Pieter Scribante: Absolutely, can’t wait.

00:18:41:08 – 00:18:59:12

Alec Hogg: What are your career expectations? At 31, you have a long road ahead. Will you commit long-term to politics?

00:18:59:13 – 00:19:22:09

Pieter Scribante: I take it five years at a time. I’m fortunate if I can serve as long as Athol has. Politics, like a calling, allows me to contribute my skills to fixing South Africa.

00:19:22:12 – 00:19:26:16

Alec Hogg: Pieter Scribante and Athol Trollip from ActionSA. Sorry, go ahead.

00:19:26:17 – 00:19:48:04

Athol Trollip: I was elected as a district councilor at 31 in 1995. Pieter, it’s doable. I hope you have 29 fulfilling years ahead. Politics can be extraordinary if driven by passion and purpose.

00:19:48:08 – 00:19:51:06

Alec Hogg: Has it been a calling for you, Athol?

00:19:51:15 – 00:20:07:01

Athol Trollip: Absolutely. When I decided to return to politics, my wife, though surprised, encouraged me, knowing it’s in my blood. Politics and my country are my passion.

00:20:07:01 – 00:20:17:02

Athol Trollip: I’m a farmer at heart, but politics is where I can make a difference and serve.

00:20:17:04 – 00:20:25:03

Alec Hogg: Athol Trollip and Pieter Scribante will be in Parliament next year with ActionSA. I’m Alec Hogg from BizNews.com.

Read also

  • Understanding what’s at stake in SA’s watershed election – Martin Van Staden
  • FT: SA’s ‘born-free’ generation scorns democracy as ‘pyramid scheme’
  • Election uncertainty: New poll says 33% of SA voters are undecided

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