Jacob Zuma. Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
Jacob Zuma. Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

BUSINESS leaders have been invited to meet with President Jacob Zuma next week ahead of his state of the nation address for talks that could influence the speech.

Mr Zuma’s "Presidential Investor Working Luncheon and World Economic Review" follows last week’s meeting with business hosted by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in which he and 60 CEOs discussed how SA could avert a downgrade to its sovereign credit rating.

"The president wants to talk to us," one senior banker said on Wednesday.

A number of key executives said they would attend the meeting on Tuesday.

"I have this feeling that the government is making the effort to reach out to business people. I think it’s wonderful for the government to understand what business thinks. We are dependent on one another," another business leader said.

PSG Group founder and chairman, Jannie Mouton, said he was looking forward to the meeting.

"All our businesses — Capitec, Zeder — are in SA. We support a good relationship with the government to make things work. We just have to be positive and help each other," Mr Mouton said.

A senior leader in the African National Congress (ANC) said the party’s lekgotla last week had agreed that government leaders "need to meet with big business and other stakeholders including labour".

"There are matters confronting us in the economy. It’s not an issue that can be attended to by one party. You need buy-in by all parties," he said.

SA will grow less than 1% this year and is at risk of being downgraded to junk status by global rating agencies.

Mr Gordhan and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe have both said negative growth and another downgrade must be avoided at all costs, and that SA had to do "everything" it could to avoid a recession.

Some of the ideas discussed at the two-hour meeting with Mr Gordhan last week included private-sector support for infrastructure investment and the secondment of business people to state entities.