The 13th Annual Smart Procurement World Indaba, held in Johannesburg from 16 to 19 September, boasted a record number of procurement professional attendees. The event provided a procurement economic roadmap for South Africa, with discussions centering around the major factors that will influence tailwinds and headwinds in South Africa in 2020.
“The conference unpacked how President Ramaphosa’s ability to restore the performance of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) will be key to avoiding a downgrade in the country’s status. It also addressed the thorny issue of corruption and how strong governance should be implemented to avoid large-scale corruption,” said Prof Jannie Ressouw, Professor of Economics, Head of School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand.
Speaker Jacques Pauw, author of The President’s Keepers, said: “Procurement was central to the escalation of state capture. Law enforcement authorities and agencies were destroyed and this made prosecution of top cases practically impossible. The true scale of state capture will never be known, even after the Zondo Commission is completed. Unless people are in jail, the State Capture Commission will be a waste of time.”
Professionalization also came under the microscope at the conference and it was acknowledged that South Africa is lagging behind Kenya and Zambia in terms of professionalization of procurement. “Zambia and Kenya have legislation that makes it mandatory to license procurement practitioners. There is a strong need to develop effective mechanisms essential to drive professionalization of procurement in South Africa. While the National Treasury’s Supply Chain Council is on the right track, progress remains slow and hard to measure,” said Ronald Mlalzi (FCIPS), CIPS Congress Member for Southern Africa.
The event highlighted the fact that leadership in South Africa requires courage and boldness. “This means that leaders need to have the courage to stand up for what is right and the boldness to resist executive pressure if procurement should be repositioned as an independent function in championing strong leadership, post state capture,” references Debbie Tagg, COO at Smart Procurement.
Mediacy Mudekwa, Head of Content at Smart Procurement, added: “Never before have we heard bolder sentiments on a platform like this. The speakers knew exactly which key points needed to be conveyed and they pulled no punches. The industry is definitely going in the right direction.”
“The event lived up to our expectations, with the networking platforms being fully utilised. Judging by the unparalleled support and attendance of the procurement industry at what is in essence their industry event, we are pleased to see the impact this event is having on both the professionalization of the industry and in supporting the socio-economic role of procurement in South Africa,” said Tagg.