Siya Kolisi's Leadership Shines Amidst a 6% Drop in CEO Confidence

In this quarter’s Merchantec CEO Confidence Index, CEOs were asked to choose the individual they believe exhibit the most effective leadership qualities among Siya Kolisi, Bongiwe Msomi, Cyril Ramaphosa, Temba Bavuma and Ronwen Williams. In a resounding vote of confidence, Siya Kolisi emerged as the overwhelming favorite, garnering a remarkable 90% of the vote following the Springboks’ win at The Rugby World Cup. This result highlights the immense respect and admiration CEOs hold for Kolisi’s leadership on and off the field, particularly his ability to unite and inspire, build teams, and navigate challenging situations with composure and integrity. CEOs have also emphasised that leadership is about action, not position, and raised concerns about the state of our government’s leadership. It is clear that the topic of leadership in South Africa is a subject of great importance and discussion.

CEO Confidence also experienced a sharp decline of 6% compared to the previous quarter, reflecting growing anxieties amongst business leaders. The current economic climate, characterised by rising interest rates, inflationary pressures, and a weakening rand, is taking a toll on business sentiment.

Most CEOs believe that South Africa is on the edge of the precipice and no one at the helm, load shedding and an indecisive government pose significant hurdles to economic growth.

Technology witnessed the sole increase in confidence, attributable to the ongoing integration of advanced artificial intelligence technologies. In contrast, all other sectors experienced a marked decrease, with Basic Resources registering the most significant decline in CEO confidence.

Reflecting on the year, the most significant effect on the CEO confidence index has been; loadshedding, political uncertainty, global economic uncertainties and supply chain disruptions. These factors have collectively shaped the business environment, influencing strategic decision-making and contributing to the nuanced fluctuations in CEO confidence levels observed throughout the year.

Basic Resources decreased in confidence by 16% to 36.25 points, compared to a score from Q3 in 2023 at 43.33 points. The decrease in confidence was generally attributed to lack of  confidence in economic conditions.

Technology recorded the only increase in Q4 of 19% in confidence. This was driven by a 48.3% increase in confidence relating to economic conditions and 41.5% increase in industry growth expectations.

Consumer Goods recorded the second largest overall decrease (13%) in confidence with a score of 46.29 points, down from the 53.24 points recorded in Q3 2023.

Consumer Services saw a 5 % decrease in confidence citing the lack of company growth prospects as the reason, brought on by reduced consumer spending accredited to the increased cost of living in SA.

Financials score decreased, dropping 5%. The decrease in sentiment was primarily driven by a 35% decrease in confidence relating to economic conditions.

Industrials decreased by 2%. This fall in confidence can be attributed to a 16% decrease in confidence relating to the ability to secure debt and equity capital, and a 11% decrease in company growth expectations.